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Posts Tagged ‘punk rock’

At number 24 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 100 greatest songwriters of all time is English singer-songwriter Elvis Costello. Elvis Costello first came to my attention in the late 1970s when he had some punk hits with his band The Attractions, and in fact I have already blogged about one of their songs, “Oliver’s Army” here.

By 1986 Costello had split from his band, and embarked on a solo career. This solo career has seen him radically change his style from his early punk days, in fact his solo career has ranged from country and western to old style ballads A good example of this diversity is the song I have decided to include here, “Veronica”, a song he co-wrote with Paul McCartney, and which was released in 1989.



At number 24 in Rolling Stone Magazine's list of the 100 greatest songwriters of all time is Elvis Costello.

At number 24 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 100 greatest songwriters of all time is Elvis Costello.



“Veronica” only got to number 31 in the Disunited Kingdom singles charts, but in the US it got to number 19, possibly because of McCartney’s involvement. Since then, Costello has also gone on to work with such songwriters at Burt Bacharach in the late 1990s. He has also composed music for an opera, and is surely one of the most diverse songwriters in this list.


Is it all in that pretty little head of yours?
What goes on in that place in the dark?
Well I used to know a girl and I would have
sworn that her name was Veronica
Well she used to have a carefree mind of her
own and a delicate look in her eye
These days I’m afraid she’s not even sure if her
name is Veronica

[Chorus:]
Do you suppose, that waiting hands on eyes,
Veronica has gone to hide?
And all the time she laughs at those who shout
her name and steal her clothes
Veronica
Veronica

Did the days drag by? Did the favours wane?
Did he roam down the town all the time?
Will you wake from your dream, with a wolf at
the door, reaching out for Veronica
Well it was all of sixty-five years ago
When the world was the street where she lived
And a young man sailed on a ship in the sea
With a picture of Veronica

On the “Empress of India”
And as she closed her eyes upon the world and
picked upon the bones of last week’s news
She spoke his name outloud again

[Chorus]

Veronica sits in her favourite chair and she sits
very quiet and still
And they call her a name that they never get
right and if they don’t then nobody else will
But she used to have a carefree mind of her
own, with devilish look in her eye
Saying “You can call me anything you like, but
my name is Veronica”

[Chorus]


Here is a video of the Costello-McCartney song “Veronica”.






Which is your favourite Elvis Costello song?

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At number 15 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s 500 greatest songs of all time is “London Calling” by The Clash. I have already blogged about this song here, when I blogged about the album of the same name, which is listed as the 8th best album of all time. But, you can’t get too much of a good thing, so I am happy to blog about this song again!



At number 30 in Rolling Stone Magazine's '500 Greatest Songs of all Time' is "I Walk the Line" by Johnny Cash.

At number 15 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s ‘500 Greatest Songs of all Time’ is “London Calling” by The Clash.




This song just tears at you from the opening guitar note. So powerful, so energetic; to me it is one of the best songs to come out of the “punk” era of the late 1970s. It was written by Joe Strummer and Mick Jones, and released in December 1979. It only got as high as number 11 in the Disunited Kingdom singles charts, and didn’t break into the US’s main singles charts at all. Just shows that chart success is not always a good sign of what and what isn’t a great song.


London calling to the faraway towns
Now war is declared, and battle come down
London calling to the underworld
Come out of the cupboard, you boys and girls
London calling, now don’t look to us
Phoney Beatlemania has bitten the dust
London calling, see we ain’t got no swing
‘Cept for the ring of that truncheon thing

[Chorus 1:]
The ice age is coming, the sun’s zooming in
Meltdown expected, the wheat is growing thin
Engines stop running, but I have no fear
‘Cause London is drowning, and I live by the river

London calling to the imitation zone
Forget it, brother, you can go it alone
London calling to the zombies of death
Quit holding out, and draw another breath
London calling, and I don’t wanna shout
But while we were talking, I saw you nodding out
London calling, see we ain’t got no high
Except for that one with the yellowy eyes

[Chorus 2: x2]
The ice age is coming, the sun’s zooming in
Engines stop running, the wheat is growing thin
A nuclear error, but I have no fear
‘Cause London is drowning, and I live by the river

Now get this

London calling, yes, I was there, too
An’ you know what they said? Well, some of it was true!
London calling at the top of the dial
After all this, won’t you give me a smile?
London calling

I never felt so much alike [fading] alike alike alike


Here is a video of this incredibly powerful song. Enjoy!





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At number 8 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s 500 greatest albums is “London Calling” by The Clash.



At no. 8 in Rolling Stone Magazine's 500 greatest albums is "London Calling" by The Clash.

At no. 8 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s 500 greatest albums is “London Calling” by The Clash.



This album was released in 1980, and is maybe the high-point of so-called “punk rock” (or “new wave” as it was called in the USA). Of all the albums in the top 10, it is the most recently released, and the only not not released in either the 1970s or 1960s. Interestingly to me, it is placed well above the album which brought punk rock to an unsuspecting World, the Sex Pistols’ “Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols”, which was released in 1977 and is at number 41 in this list of the 500 greatest albums. Here is the link to what Rolling Stone Magazine had to say about the Sex Pistols’ album.

I did not own “London Calling” before seeing this list, although I was a big fan of the biggest hit from this album, the song “London Calling”. But, along with the other album in this top 10 which I did not already own (I will come to that album in a few weeks’ time), I bought “London Calling” about a year ago when I first saw this “500 greatest albums” list. I already had no. 10 “The White Album” and no. 9 “Blonde on Blonde” long before I saw this top 10, so “London Calling” at no. 8 was the first in the list which I did not previously own.

Before buying the album I was not familiar with many of the other songs on the album, but having now listened to it over a dozen times in the last year I can say that there are quite a number of the 19 tracks which I like. To me, it sounds different to all the other albums in this top 10 list, which I guess is testimony to the fresh direction which punk rock brought to what had become a pretty jaded music scene. Until punk rock came along, British and American music was wallowing in “glam rock”, “adult oriented rock”, “progressive rock” (e.g. Emerson, Lake and Palmer) and dreadful (in my opinion) “big hair” middle of the road “rock” bands like REO Speedwagon, Foreigner etc. Music needed a kick up the arse, and punk provided that.

“London Calling” has more energy and more rawness than most of the other albums in this top 10, and certainly does not have the level of studio sophistication which an album like The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper” or The Beach Boys’ “Pet Sounds” have. In comparing it to the Sex Pistols’ “Never Mind the Bollocks”, “London Calling” is far more varied musically. Whilst it retains the raw energy of punk, it also shows different musical styles from raw driving rock to ska and reggae and even disco!

Here is the title track of the album, the seminal and apocalyptic “London Calling”. Rock doesn’t get much better than this!


Songwriters: STRUMMER, JOE / JONES, MICK / SIMONON, PAUL / HEADON, TOPPER
London calling to the faraway towns
Now that war is declared and battle come down
London calling to the underworld
Come out of the cupboard, all you boys and girls
London calling, now don’t look to us
Phony Beatlemania has bitten the dust
London calling, see we ain’t got no swing
Except for the ring of that truncheon thing

The ice age is coming, the sun’s of an end
Meltdown expected, the wheat is growing thin
Engines stop running but I have no fear
Cos London is drownin’ I… live by the river

London calling to the imitation zone
Forget it brother, you can go it alone
London calling to the zombies of death
Quit holding out and draw another breath
London calling and I don’t wanna shout
But while we were talking I saw you runnin’ out
London calling, see we ain’t got no highs
Except for that one with the yellowy eyes

The ice age is coming, the sun’s of an end
Engines stop running, the wheat is growing thin
A nuclear error but I have no fear
Cos London is drowning and I live by the river

The ice age is coming, the sun’s of an end
Engines stop running, the wheat is growing thin
A nuclear error but I have no fear
Cos London is drowning and I live by the river

Now get this
London calling, yes I was there too
An’ you know what they said – well some of it was true!
London calling at the top of the dial
An’ after all this, won’t you give me a smile?
London calling…





I think this album is well worth listening to. But, do you think it deserves to be in the top 10 of the “500 greatest albums” (of all time)? Personally I do, as it is symbolises the revolution punk represented.

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