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January 11, 1980 - Image 7

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1980-01-11

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The Michigan Daily-Friday, January11, 1980-Page 7

RECORDS

By R. J. SMITH
You can hear it in the offices and in
e bedrooms, and all the drugs and
white noise in the world can't drown it
out. It's the sound of Oliver's army a-
rap-a-tap-tapping on your front door,
asking you politely to come with 'em to
Afghanistan, Iran, Salisbury, Los
Angeles. They ask once, and then they
break down the door and cave your
head in if you don't come.
The Clash hear it, and they do the
'ly logical (and the most stupid)
ing: they wait for the door to be
trampled and then they fight, until the
blood gurgles out of them and they keel
over onto the floor.
On their new album London Calling,
the Clash sound like Third Worlders
brought up in America. They have an
affluent, Madison Avenue-weaned per-
spective that has only been hinted at on
their first two albums. But they also
have hunger and frustration that have
never come across so fully. That's a
'ntradiction, and the Clash on London
ling are consummately contradic-
tory. They are a rock group that has
achieved pop stardom by making
apocalyptic sounds launched at the
throat of the pop world. On London
Calling they soften their sound with less
ferocious music and a production that
time and again undercuts the songs' in-
tensity. The result is an album that
manages to bring the rage and frenzy of
warfare into daily life - and this time
to invest it with an almost religious
calmness, poking in and out of the
songs, asking that the struggles of life
be attacked with a persistent dignity
most unknown in rock and roll.
1,.WHAT IT IS not is your basic Clash
album. Lots and lots of songs have hor-
ns on them, and what was dense and in-
cendiary on their past albums is
hookier here and even playful. There is
still plenty of punk, as well as Mott and
Beefheartian. But it all fits into a much
bigger pattern than it ever did before.
London Calling plays off textures and
emotions; we get a lightweight,
straightforward punker next to a song
Wat sounds like a Spector-produced
lood on the Tracks outtake, and a
cover tough enough to have been on
either of the first two albums, followed
by an original too smooth to be on any
other album.
And there is nipre reggae than ever
before. Rockers like Graham Parker,
and even predominantly white groups
like the Specials, fuse reggae rhythms
with the speed and fierceness of the new
wave. But the Clash go for something
J se altogether - they dig inside for
nd find the strength and faith that
allow them to relate their vision of
apocalypse with a kind of calmness that
spiritually makes London Calling as
close a kin to The Basement Tapes as it
is to reggae. There are numerous-songs
where the reggae beat and cross-
rhythms are used in a pop format, as
well as the straight dub-sounding "The
Guns of Brixton," and the ecstatic
cover of "Revolution Rock."
THAT THE CLASH presents their
end-of-the-world message as stoically
and majestically as they do, is
remarkable. That this achievement
stretches out over two albums worth of
music and works across the board is
staggering. Elvis Costello plays pop
music against intense emotion for
dialectical impact, but this isn't the
case with the Clash, even with
something as dramatic and melodic as
"Spanish Bombs." What they're after,
always seems, is a place where
orrors such as "the buses (going) up
in flashes, the Irish tomb (that) is dren-
ched in blood" are negated. And the

Bley due
at Power
Mention big band jazz to today's
new breed of fan and you'll be con-
sidered anachronistic, or at best a
little out of touch with the times.
What most listeners don't realize is
that big bands don't begin and end
with Duke Ellington. The format is
alive, well, and kicking, and its
foremost proponent is coming to Ann
Arbor this weekend.
The Carla BleyBand is aband like
no other. Utilizing her inter-

tlW(Couzij
presents

&,r. FRIDAY
- SATURDAY
Ul 9pm - barn
NO COVER!
theGoqt
1140 South University
3
- 0o p (\6
CJQ '$Q as ,n\
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i
.r 00 01

Jazz artist Carla Bley will bring her
band and unique fusion sound to Ann
Arbor to kick off another year of
Eclipse concerts.
nationally recognized talent as a
composer, arranger and band
leader, Bley fronts an organization
of unprecedented diversity,.ranging
from composer/bassist Steve
Swallow to new wave drummer D.
Sharpe, and featuring noted trium-
peter Michael Mantler.
Although an extremely prolific
recording artist, Carla Bley has
gained near-legendary status
through her band's live performan-
ces. Their sometimes flambuoyant
virtuosity is tempered by a sense of
humor and the theatrical. The show
takes place on Saturday, January 12,
at the spacious Power Center and
could well be the highlight of the
Eclipse season.

a

Mick Jones coaxes feedback from his guitar during a recent Clash perfor-
mance in Atlanta.-

The first woman to wear diamonds
was Agnes Sorel, mistress of King
Charles VII of France. Until then, only
men of importance wore them.

Clash know that atat'I no place on earth,
for this album is a tour de force that ex-
poses the lies of drugs, money, fast
talking, and every other possible decep-
tion people have to keep them from
facing up to the miserable things they
do to each other. On songs like "Death
or Glory" and "The Guns of Brixton"
they disassemble the notion of death as
the end of human pain, and human
struggle.
I don't much like the overall sound to
London Calling; it would have been suf-
ficiently softened without songs like
"Clampdown" or "Death or Glory"
being robbed of a great deal of punch.
And even allowing for the gropp's
problems, this is a severely schizophr-
enic album. It stacks up that
reggae/religious detachment up again-
st a desire to grab everyone in their
audience and shake them up with
energy and intensity, sometimes within
the same song. On London Calling the
Clash are poised to spring into the
unknown; they seem to tell us that what
we have to get through th3 day is faith
- not faith in any thing, just simple
belief. But they also want to do
something about the way things are,
and it is this balance of distance/in-
tegration that charges their music.
They have yet to find a music to express
their vision. It isn't reggae, and it isn't
punk. Until they find the perfect Clash
music, however, we'll have records like
London Calling - a record of songs

which most groups could never come
close to.

I

_l_

I

-_

-L

J

516 E.LIBERT A N
JOE COCKER
Sunday & with THE LOOK
MondayTONIGHT
Jan. 20, 21 OIGHT
$1.0(.MORIAH,
- appearing through Sunday.

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