15 December 2009

"The ice age is coming, the sun's zoomin' in..."

Today is the birthday of a fellow named Paul Gustave Simonon (click on "menu" and then "about" to read about Paul Simonon and his bandmates, using the grey button on the inner right side to scroll down). The band that he used to play bass and sing for, the Clash, released their seminal album London Calling in the UK thirty years ago yesterday, the day before Paul's 24th birthday. And it is Paul who graces the album's cover, caught by the lens of Pennie Smith as he threw his bass guitar at the stage floor during a performance at NYC's Palladium, next to lettering that recalls Elvis Presley's debut album (though it was the Clash's third, after their eponymous debut in 1977 and 1978's Give 'Em Enough Rope).

These days, Paul concentrates on his painting but there's no doubt that due to his time with the Clash, his musical legacy is solidly secure.

This is the first song Paul wrote and sang on, "The Guns of Brixton," which is featured on London Calling. He grew up in Brixton, a rough section of London with a sizable Jamaican population. He studied reggae music in order to help himself learn to play the bass guitar. (Props for littlewonder80 for posting this. I love this clip!)

The official video for the title track. Note Paul's style of playing, as though he is a gunslinger!

A live video of Mick Jones singing "Train in Vain." The song is not listed in the track sequence on the original album as it was added at the last minute.

"Lovers Rock" was also on London Calling, but it is not as well known. I have heard several interpretations of this song's meaning: a reference to oral sex; the need to take sexual relationships seriously instead of just resorting to one night stands; and the notion that men need to take as much responsibility for birth control (i.e. wearing condoms) as women. Take a listen and decide for yourself. You may come up (no pun intended) with something completely different.

"Crooked Beat" was not on London Calling; it was part of the next album Sandinista! It's another one of Paul's that he wrote and sang on, showcasing his love of reggae and dub. Check it out!

If you want to read more about the Clash, here is a blog that is updated quite frequently and is about all things Clash.

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