The Siren Sound of the Clash’s ‘London Calling,’ 40 Years Later

Released in 1979, the Clash’s third album changed everything—punk rock, the band that made it, and the fans who worshiped it. Decades later, its rich, eclectic, propulsive sound hasn’t aged a minute, and its messages are as urgent as ever.

By Elizabeth Nelson

“Every Cheap Hood / Strikes a Bargain With the World”

Guy Stevens, the Clash’s hand-picked producer for their pivotal third LP, a double album titled London Calling, was not happy with how the band was performing. So he applied the Guy Stevens method: He charged out of the control room and began a violent assault on the space where the group was attempting to get through the song—thrashing his limbs, dancing wildly, and screaming in their faces. They reacted with a combination of rage and horror and disbelief: Imagine trying to cut a track while some fully hysterical nutter is 5 inches in front of you, all brandy breath, spit, and bile. After all this was done, Stevens announced: “It’s a take!”

The Clash’s first two LPs, 1977’s self-titled debut and 1978’s Give ’Em Enough Rope, thrilled critics and galvanized a large and loyal following. Now it was up to them to consecrate their standing as the biggest band in the world, or at least “The Only Band That Matters,” a nickname they had self-applied. Brimming with talent, energy, and esprit de corps, the Clash sensed they were close to something monumental—a commercial breakthrough and a masterpiece. They had material to spare and an unbreakable date with destiny. They just needed someone to bring it all together, to bring it out of them. They sorted through their options. And then they hired Guy Stevens.

“I’m So Grateful / To Be Nowhere”

It starts in Camden, by the Thames, waters rising, alarms at full blaze. It starts at the end. An apocalyptic event, another kind of destiny. World War II and the bombing of Britain and the economic shudder of the empire through its shaky postwar years and the rise of the right and the shadow of the Cold War and the memory of the Aberfan disaster. Everything, it seems, is in those two chords. London is drowning and the Clash are … ambivalent? Stalwart? Maybe the word is prepared. Prepared for death or the feral future of life in the aftermath of utter catastrophe.

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Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Bill Nighy to reunite for special 20th anniversary celebrating “Love Actually”

The stars of Love Actually will reunite for a special 20th anniversary special on US network ABC, it has been announced.

The one-hour special will look at how the film became a beloved Christmas tradition and a global sensation, with exclusive interviews with cast members.

Love Actually

Hugh Grant, Dame Emma Thompson, Bill Nighy, Laura Linney and Thomas Brodie-Sangster will sit down with ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer for the show.

It will also include an appearance from writer and director Richard Curtis, as well as a message from Martine McCutcheon.

ABC said the special would offer new insight into behind-the-scenes secrets and the film’s famous scenes as well as examining how the Covid-19 pandemic “refocused the ways we love and connect”.

In an exclusive clip of the interview, Dame Emma recalled watching the film for the first time.

“Hugh came up behind me as we were walking out and said ‘is that the most psychotic thing we’ve ever been in?’” she said.

Grant, who plays the British Prime Minister in the iconic Christmas film, also reveals he thought he would “hate” the iconic dancing scene in Downing Street.

“But I will give myself the credit of having the secretary catch me,” he says.

In another clip, Curtis tells Sawyer: “I do think that the way to think about life is that every day has the potential just to be gorgeous.”

Sawyer also poses the ever elusive question to cast members: “Love actually is?”, to which Grant answers “dead”.

The special comes after cast members in 2017 reunited for the short sequel, Red Nose Day Actually, which was also made by Curtis and further developed key character storylines.

Several scenes from the short echoed iconic moments from the film such as the cue card scene with Keira Knightley’s and Andrew Lincoln’s characters.

In the mini sequel, Grant, Liam Neeson, Linney, Colin Firth and Rowan Atkinson made appearances.

Curtis, who was also involved in Four Weddings and a Funeral and Bridget Jones’ Diary as a writer, said in the lead-up he would “never have dreamt of writing a sequel to Love Actually”, but added: “I thought it might be fun to do ten minutes to see what everyone is now up to.”

“We’ve been delighted and grateful that so many of the cast are able to take part – and it’ll certainly be a nostalgic moment getting back together and recreating the characters 14 years later,” he said.

“We hope to make something that’ll be fun – very much in the spirit of the original film and of Red Nose Day – and which we hope will help bring lots of viewers and cash to the Red Nose Day shows.”

Love Actually has consistently rated as the top searched-for Christmas film in France, Italy and 17 other countries, totalling 887,000 worldwide searches a month.

The story of the original film, which is an international co-production between the UK, the United States and France begins five weeks before Christmas and is played out in a weekly countdown until the holiday, followed by an epilogue that takes place one month later.

The Laughter & Secrets of Love Actually: 20 Years Later – A Diane Sawyer Special, will air on Wednesday, November 30 at 1am UK time on ABC.

Source: Love Actually: Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Bill Nighy to reunite for special 20th anniversary TV special celebrating popular Christmas film

The Day Fairport Convention’s Bus Crashed, Killing Martin Lamble

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May 12, 1969 bus crash killed Fairport Convention drummer Martin Lamble and severely injured other members of the group.

As the summer of 1969 approached, the future looked bright for Fairport Convention, as their second album, What We Did on Our Holidays, expanded the band’s audience with a more rock-inflected version of their folk sound. But an awful tragedy nearly destroyed the band just as all their hard work was starting to pay off.

In the early morning hours of May 12, as the group traveled back from a celebratory gig in Birmingham shortly after wrapping up work on their next album, their van veered off the road — and in the aftermath of the crash, Fairport Convention would never be the same. The wreck killed drummer Martin Lamble, who was just 19 at the time, as well as fashion designer and magazine columnist Jeannie Franklyn, who’d been dating guitarist Richard Thompson. Thompson suffered a broken shoulder and bassist Ashley Hutchings was sent to the hospital with assorted serious injuries, while guitarist Simon Nicol, who’d been sleeping on the floor of the vehicle when it went off the road, escaped with a concussion.

“Our road manager and sound guy, Harvey Bramham, did most of the driving although I’d do a bit to relieve him. On this particular gig, he’d been feeling peaky all day, quite unwell,” explained Nicol in a post on the Fairport Convention website. “I had a bad migraine so I wasn’t in a seat; I was stretched out on the floor with a blanket over my head trying to sleep off this terrible headache. When I woke up, the van was doing things which didn’t involve the wheels being in contact with the ground: when it stopped moving, I was the only one left. All the gear had gone out of the back and all the people had gone out through the windows and doors.”

With the release of their next album mere weeks away, the members of the group had to decide whether they could even carry on as a unit. “That was a big watershed, I think. In the aftermath, we thought a lot about what to do, whether to call it a day. It had been fun while it lasted but it took a definite effort of will to continue,” recalled Nicol. “It had given us a lot but now it had taken away a lot: was it worth it if it was going to cost people their lives?”

“We were totally fractured, in more ways than one,” Hutchings told the Guardian. “It seemed like I was in hospital for months. When I woke up at the side of the M1, I thought I’d lost my sight. As it was, it was just that both eyes were terribly cut and bruised, and eventually, that improved. But I had a broken nose, broken cheekbone, a lot of head injuries, a broken pelvis, a bad ankle injury. All of those things took a long time to heal. People were asking us about the future, but we couldn’t conceive of planning one.”

“We were very traumatized,” added Thompson. “And there was this feeling: ‘Should we carry on? Has the stuffing been knocked out of us?’ But eventually, we made a conscious effort. We got together and said, ‘Yes, we are carrying on.'” As Nicol put it, “We all felt psychologically traumatized as well as being damaged physically. But by the time Ashley’s face was back together and Richard’s bones were healing, we’d decided to rebuild the band and carry on.”

While Fairport Convention handled the last few bits of work to prepare their third LP, Unhalfbricking, for its July 1969 release, DJ John Peel hosted a benefit concert featuring Family, Pretty Things, and Soft Machine on May 25 to raise money for Lamble and Franklyn’s families. While they soldiered on, the pall of the accident continued to loom; as Hutchings later told the Guardian, he can’t even look at the cover of Unhalfbricking without thinking about the tragedy. “My memory of it is bound up with the terrible car crash. On the back cover we’re all eating around a table. The shirt and the leather waistcoat I’m wearing are what I had on when the crash happened. I can clearly remember them being bloodstained,” he explained. “You don’t forget things like that.”

In fact, although the group soon found a new drummer in Dave Mattacks and rebounded to create one of their most successful albums with Liege & Lief later that year, Hutchings was on his way out of the band. “I believe the crash hung over the band in unseen ways,” mused Nicol. “I think it was one of the unspoken reasons for the next big change, when Ashley decided to leave the band later that year after we had recorded Liege & Lief and relaunched the band to some fanfare and acclaim. Whatever the upfront reasons about musical differences and wanting to concentrate on traditional material, I think the accident was the underlying reason why Ashley felt he couldn’t continue with us.”

Fairport Convention’s lineup would continue to change quite a bit over the years, but aside from a hiatus between 1979-’85, they’ve continued to tour and record steadily — and although Nicol is the only original member left, he wouldn’t mind seeing the Fairport name continue after he’s gone. “I’d like Fairport to become the first band to be like a male voice choir, carrying on through changes of personnel but retaining its identity,” he wrote on the band’s site.

“After all, no one bats an eyelid about a brass band playing on long after all the original members are gone. Why shouldn’t there be a Fairport Convention in fifty or a hundred years?”

Source: The Day Fairport Convention’s Bus Crashed, Killing Martin Lamble