sun 21/07/2024

CD: Various Artists - London's Calling | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Various Artists - London's Calling

CD: Various Artists - London's Calling

The multi-cultural streets of London are alive with the sound of music

London's Calling: a wealth of multi-cultural musicians reinvent some classic London songs

It’s perfect timing for the release of this collection of cover versions of London-themed songs by multi-cultural London-based musicians. The big surprise is that some of the tracks could so easily have descended into cheesiness or simply not measured up to the original, yet nearly every band has successfully put a new spin on the song they’ve chosen, in some instances even momentarily blocked the original from memory.

The Soothsayers reggaefied “Streets of London” makes you forget Mctell’s maudlin original, Katy Prado & The Mamboleros retain the punk spirit of 77 on their version of the Vibrator’s “London Girls” (renaming it “London Boys”) while adding a joyful slice of Latin/oriental 60s kitsch, Krah Collective charmingly add an Ethiopian flavour to Lily Allen’s “LDN”, and Strummer himself may well have approved of Transglobal Underground’s global fusion/dancehall take on ‘London Calling’ in that it doesn’t even try to compete with the cinematic clout of the original, but has enough street swagger to stand alongside it.

But my personal favourite is Los Desterrados strutting Flamenco-ish take on Elvis Costello’s “(yo no quero ir a) Chelsea”. This is partly because it dispenses completely with the song’s core riff yet still remains wholly faithful to the original. And partly because it’s such a pleasure to hear a good female vocalist put a sensual new spin on Costello’s spiky lyrics.

Out of a total of 14 tracks there are only a couple of weak links. I wasn’t wholly convinced by Arun Ghosh’s version of “London Calling”, for example, simply because the clarinet is not a strident enough instrument to carry the splenetic, impassioned vocal melody, and so the track comes across a bit Geoff Love Plays the Clash. But the bottom line is that this diverse and constantly surprising album is a prescient reminder of what a wealth of vital contemporary musical talent we have in London from all over the world.

Watch a video on the making of London’s Calling


Strummer himself may have approved of Transglobal Underground’s global fusion/dancehall take on ‘London Calling’


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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