London Calling-video opgraderet

Har tidligere her bragt videokunstneren Nacho’s restaurerede værker med både David Bowie og Echo and the Bunnymen. Nu har han også kastet sig over The Clash, hvis ‘London Calling’-video i går blev lagt op i hans optimerede version, med lovning om mere The Clash på vej snart. Her Nacho’s detaljerede kommentarer til den ‘nye’ video, som demonstration for med hvilken ihærdighed, entusiasme og kærlighed til den ypperste kvalitet, han arbejder…

Now Get This

It is impossible to say what the greatest Clash song is. Checking my own Clash favorites playlist, I could maybe narrow it down to 10 songs. Certainly London Calling would be in that Top 10. In ’78 & ’79 I had a few chart “Punk” singles – Undertones, Buzzcocks, Gen X & I think Tommy Gun & Cost of Living EP by The Clash. But it was with London Calling that I began to really get into them. I was not alone. By January 1980 the single was No. 11 in the UK charts, the band’s biggest hit thus far. DJ Annie Nightingale had made a bet with Joe Strummer that London Calling would make the UK Top 10 without them appearing on Top of the Pops, the stake being a Cadillac. When the record peaked at number 11, Nightingale was saved by a listener who donated a Cadillac. The band subsequently auctioned it to raise funds for the recession hit steel town of Corby.

Live By the River

I remember seeing the London Calling video, and being mighty impressed by the swagger of the band, apparently oblivious to the dark London night & lashing winter rain.

The promo was directed by British film maker, DJ & musician, Don Letts. Letts had already directed several Clash music videos, as far back as White Riot in 1977. Later, in 1984 he co-founded Big Audio Dynamite with Clash guitarist Mick Jones. In 1990 Letts directed the documentary, The Clash: Westway to the World.

London Calling was shot at the beginning of December 1979. The video shows the band playing the song on a barge moored next to Albert Bridge on the south side of the River Thames. It was a cold and rainy night, which probably made for a very unpleasant shoot, but suits the apocalyptic lyrics of a drowned London.

Wheat Grown Thin

The video legacy of The Clash, like many other great artists, is not being given proper love & respect. Old fans, new fans and musical historians alike rely on the videos in circulation to remember, understand & enjoy facets of an artist, that listening to the music alone cannot provide.

Leading the pushback against the seeming indifference of many artists / their estates / management / labels etc. is Neil Young, with his magnificent & ever expanding online treasure trove, Neil Young Archives. Meanwhile the material online of many other important artists is in appalling quality. Or worse; festering in an archive unseen and sometimes even undigitized from the original celluloid, and therefore deteriorating year by year.

The Clash are a case in point. The “official” sources of the London Calling promo [Clash YouTube channel, Essential Clash DVD, iTunes store downloads etc.] are a mess. The various versions available are obviously not mastered from first generation sources, and are in low definition. Most of them are running at about 3 or 4% too slow. The audio quality of them is bad, presumably from the original 40-year old soundtrack. At least the YouTube version is complete, featuring the Big Ben scene at the beginning & the shot of the Thames in the fade-out. Whereas the versions on the Essential DVD & other sources, omit the intro and just after Topper Headon’s last cymbal crash, before the song has even finished its fade-out, whilst Strummer is still “alike alike alike-ing” the video just abruptly ends.

Won’t You Give Me a Smile?

And so, collecting together and combining all the video sources I could find, and dubbing in the excellent 2013 Sound System Box Set remaster of London Calling, I have tried to create an improvement on what’s currently out there. It’s far from perfect, but it’s better than anything else I’ve seen in circulation.

This is the first of several Clash video restorations I have in mind.

Hope you dig it!

With thanks to my three Clash mates, Adam, Pete & Richard for providing invaluable info, some of which I quote almost verbatim.


Video Source:
The Clash • London Calling • Original promo video • Directed by Donn Letts • Shot in London, December 1979

Audio Source:
The Clash • London Calling • 2013 Sound System Remaster • Recorded at Wessex Studios, London • August, September, November 1979 • Released December 7, 1979

Joe Strummer • Lead vocals, rhythm guitar
Mick Jones • Lead guitar, backing vocals
Paul Simonon • Bass, backing vocals
Topper Headon • Drums

Guy Stevens • Production

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