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Route 19 Revisited: The Clash and London Calling
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Route 19 Revisited: The Clash and London Calling

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  130 ratings  ·  27 reviews
Twenty-eight years after its original release, The Clash’s London Calling was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame as a “recording of lasting qualitative or historical significance.” It topped polls on both sides of the Atlantic for the best album of the seventies (and eighties) and in publications as wide-ranging as Rolling Stone, VIBE, Pitchfork, and NME, and it regular ...more
Paperback, 560 pages
Published October 1st 2010 by Soft Skull Press (first published 2009)
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Oct 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Detailed, obsessive study of The Clash's celebrated 3rd album from just about every angle: biographical, historical, mythological, semiotic, aesthetic, you name it. You probably have to be at least half-infatuated with both the band and their work to want to read a book like this, but I'm happy to plead guilty as charged. And there can't be many people, even among Clash diehards, with the passion and stamina for such exhaustive, and probably exhausting, research as Marcus Gray demonstrates here. ...more
Paul Childs
Sep 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Okay, I really like The Clash. I've liked them since their first album, and still listen to it on occasion (on vinyl) and think London Calling is one of the few truly brilliant albums of the last 35 years.But this book is for the person who likes The Clash and London Calling in an OCD sort of way. More than twenty five pages on Rudie Can't Fail, including a jugged history of Rude Boy music and culture. Much the same about Lover's Rock. The gearhead in me did like the bits explaining how the stud ...more
Iain Cargill
Jul 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Just an extraordinary read. Suggest a bonus Spotify playlist of all the influences.
Breno Coelho
Jun 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Another tough one. It´s a well researched in depth clash bio, that will please all fans. It also de-mythologise The Clash; so far so good, they were human and there's always some posturing involved, but the way he goes about it has the effect of turning pop music as little more than entertainment and music executives as benevolent forces that stop artists from being self centered or taking too long to develop ideas. How the author doesnt notice the cynicism of his writing and addreses it is beyo ...more
May 20, 2018 rated it liked it
Interesting read and enlightening at times, but too bloated by irrelevant detail that has pretty much nothing to do with The Clash, and I found myself skipping entire pages at times, when the author decided he wanted to write about the history of Jamaican music instead of about the making of London Calling.
Rob Miech
Sep 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The making of London Calling ... and, well, the making of the Clash
This is fantastic. How they formed, then, how they assembled one of the best albums of all time. Just about every line of every song means/meant something. Going down this road is a must!
Apr 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Look at you with your blue suede brothel creepers moonstomping your way straight to five stars. Come on, The Specials AND Herr's Dispatches? Four full pages about Stagger Lee leading me straight to Under Milk Wood? I can't stand it!
Eric Gilliland
May 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
Are rock albums worthy of a 500+-page book? In the case of The Clash's landmark 1979 album, London Calling, Yes! Marcus Gray's detailed study of London Calling is much more than a by the numbers "making of" account, but a portrait of an era similar to our own. The year 1979 witnessed the Islamic Revolution in Iran, a near nuclear meltdown at Three Mile Island, fears of climate change, massive unemployment in the West, the end of detente after the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, and the rise of ...more
Nestor Rychtyckyj
Jan 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
Do we really need 500 pages to discuss one album (actually a double album)? It does seem very pretentious, but Marcus Gray’s ode to the Clash’s brilliant London Calling turns out to be more than justified. As you can probably guess – I am one of those that believe that Clash was the “only band that mattered” and “London Calling” was their masterpiece. I was lucky enough to see the Clash (with Topper) twice and can attest that they were brilliant (even if they weren’t the first time).

Marcus Gray
Chris Coates
May 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If you believe, as I do, that London Calling is the finest album ever recorded (yes, including Pet Sounds and Blood On The Tracks), and that no detail of its genesis is too small to puzzle over in order to understand why it is, then here is your book. As great as the first two Clash albums were, there is little in them that prepared anyone for London Calling (including the band itself). It was as if everything the band had sprung fully formed and all at once. For my people, it was the Big Bang.

Blog on Books
Oct 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Much like the famed 70’s London grafitti that once declared “Clapton is God,” in the 80’s, England’s Clash picked up the appellation “The only band that matters.” If that was the case, the work that mattered most was their seminal third album “London Calling.”

“London Calling” was the band’s first (and only) double album and a piece of work that cemented the band’s reputation with both fans and critics alike (planting itself at or near the top of every critics list from the revered Village Voice
Aug 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book rocked! Great in depth analysis of The Clash during the London Calling period. Although I do think The Clash were overrated (I think based on the fact they read more books than The Damned or The Pistols which was refelcted in their lyrics so the press jacked them off for years and people bought into them being "the only band that matters") they are still a great early punk band. They're behind The Damned and The Pistols in my book but ahead of the Buzzcocks. Just a good tale of a band ...more
DJ Yossarian
Gray's "Last Gang in Town" is one of the most informative and enjoyable music books I've ever read, so I had high expectations about "Route 19 Revisited". I wasn't disappointed. I've listened to this album hundreds of times since I bought it when it first came out, and "Route 19" did the nearly impossible — it revealed behind-the-scenes info about the recording techniques, musical/cultural influences, and biographical details about the band that made me hear these songs anew. It's right up there ...more
Dec 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing
“And after all this won’t you give us a smile”

Lengthy and very well written rock album biography of London Calling.

This book is the definitive story of London Calling. It is for fans only. It contains five hundred pages of minutiae, extensive research, and interviews in the “making of . . .” ilk. (There’s a three-page description of how the drums were mic’d ferchristssakes). Additionally, endless other background information is revealed in the telling of the story. Marcus Gray expertly fills in
Jacob Jones-Goldstein
Jan 05, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: music
Not bad. Some of his conclusion are a bit off the wall (There's no need to discuss the origins of the skull and crossbones as to why the clash wore it on their clothes, Bob Dylan probably did not do his radio show because Joe Strummer did one, etc) and it would be nice to get the sense that Marcus Gray actually liked the Clash.

As the story of the album it's solid. He does a quality job talking about the history and how it came about. As a critical analysis of the album though, it fails.

If you'
This was an amazing find. It's centred round the recording of the London Calling album, and has detail on everything about it.
I'm no musician, but the book evokes a real sense of the process involved in writing and recording.
Each album track is analysed in terms of instruments used, which channel they were recorded on, the influences on the lyrics and musical style and it's context.
The book also charts the evolution of The Clash, their habits, relationships and backgrounds.
It's a truly intricat
Mar 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: music
A 500-page record review-- and of one of my all-time favorite records, no less! Clearly, this is right up my alley, and indeed, it's perhaps the finest example of this kind of long-form music criticism that I've yet read, but even I find parts of it to be a little tedious; the section about the creation of the album artwork is tedious, for instance, but the song-by-song breakdown is pretty consistently compelling (if you love London Calling, anyway) and I also appreciated the "Where Are They Now ...more
Nov 24, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music, 2009
Loved this lengthy, detailed book on London Calling by The Clash.

Face it, this is one of the best albums ever made and any Clash fan will revel in all the little bits and pieces of info that Gray throws out with wild abandon (like 10 pages on the LP cover!).

Yes, the Clash had all kinds of faults and contradictions but that doesn't detract in the slightest from the wonderful music and electrifying live gigs.

Not sure what to say other than you really should read this book if you love the album o
Sean Gardner
Nov 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a great book for any fan of the Clash or the punk movement in general, Marcus Gray does an incredible job writing about the making of the record and the impact that it had on the world after its release. I really loved the in-depth analysis of every track on the record, makes you appreciate the genius of Joe Strummer and the boys. This book also made me reconnect with one of my first musical loves, Reggae Rocksteady! Pick this up and I am sure that you will love reading it!
Richard Lee
Oct 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is an excellent analysis of the making of London Calling. It covers the lead up to the making of the album and subsequent years as they related to London Calling. It tells you things you want to know about the songs, the recording process, the personalities and crucially the business arrangements. If I have a criticism it's that in some cases it's over detailed
Feb 28, 2011 rated it it was ok
Much as I love London Calling, this bloated track-by-track extravaganza was very disappointing. and the title is completely misleading. This has next to nothing to do with the number 19 bus. Poorly written, virtually unedited, and barely proofed, this seems like an early draft of a book about which a half-decent editor might reasonably say, "But what's your main idea?" Try again, Marcus.
Jim Hofmann
Oct 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A highly detailed and comprehensive story about the making of one of the greatest rock albums - London Calling.
Jun 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
i thought it was excellent but def for only Clash fans
Nov 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: rock-bio
It's amazing how much can be written about the making of one album and still be interesting, even for a hard core fan. Still, I thoroughly enjoyed the ride. Great job of researching by Gray.
Jessie McMains
Apr 15, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: owned-books
It's really great, for what it is, but even for a die-hard Clash fan like me I found it hard to get through. I want more of the stories and feelings and less of the cut-and-dried facts, y'know?
Sep 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
very detailed , very thorough - the story of the Clash in the year they recorded their landmark album, and how they took it to the world
Oct 11, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a great book. Not only is it an in depth review of a brilliant album it also provides an amazing history of the times, the songs influences and all the characters involved. Fascinating.
Christopher Roger
rated it it was amazing
Aug 16, 2018
Agustin Harriague
rated it it was ok
Jan 02, 2016
rated it really liked it
Mar 22, 2011
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