Twice As Nice?

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London Calling - The Clash
I took a long bike ride today and finally listened to “London Calling” all the way through (yes, I know it came out in 1979. I’ve been very busy doing important other things, okay?).
This record is routinely cited as one of the very few collections that merits the double length, and couldn’t be improved by cutting it down to a single LP (along with The White Album, Exile On Main St., and (occasionally) Tusk). I’m thinking that it doesn’t quite make that grade, or at least that they could’ve dropped “Jimmy Jazz”.
I’d love to get your responses on the whole double album thing, though. What do you think is the best double album of all time, and why? Bonus points if you can make a coherent case for the inclusion of “Revolution #9” or “Turd On The Run”.

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2 thoughts on “Twice As Nice?

  • Gotta disagree with you here. I just don’t think you can mess with an album like London Calling. In order to turn it in to a single disk, you’d have to have to eliminate more than just “Jimmy Jazz”. You’d have to take away 7 or 8 songs. Impossible. I think the lesser-quality songs have their place on a powerful album like this. I think you need songs that change the mood a little, give you a breather. Otherwise you are left with too many intense songs in a row. In a way they can make the whole package better.
    Another debate would be about their follow up to London Calling, Sandanista!, a 3-record set. Most people think it’s completely overblown and would have been a better 1- or 2-record set. I disagree. While it has a few songs that annoy me (“Lose This Skin” and “Career Opportunities” sung by a 4-year-old), I actually like the weird filler songs, New York DJ blab, dub remixes, etc. Check out “If Music Could Talk”, with separate sets of lyrics in the right and left speakers. It’s just too much to try to digest in one sitting. When I used to listen to it on vinyl I’d usually listen to one disk at a time.
    I like it when artists at the height of their creativity take a chance and create something really huge and ambitious.
    Other 2-record sets that I’m glad are 2-record sets, besides the ones you listed:
    Layla, Physical Graffiti, Blonde on Blonde (I know, “Sad Eyed Lady…” didn’t need to be 17 minutes long), Tommy (pompous, but wonderfully so), Captain Fantastic, Step Inside This House (Lyle Lovett).
    Joe Jackson once made a pretty good album called Big World that was a 1 1/2-record set. I always thought that was pretty clever.
    Dan

    • But what if the Clash had decided to release one killer 8 song disc called “London Calling”, and then taken the next best 8 songs, written one or two more great ones, and then released another one titled “London Just Called” (or something) 9 months later? That’s the usual response from people who think there are too many double albums.
      I totally agree with you on the whole weaker-songs-can-make-a-better-album thing, though. They provide a little breathing room that can actually make the stronger ones stand out even more. I appreciate that even on a single LP.
      As far as other great 4-siders, I would definitely add Blonde on Blonde (and I love that Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands covers a whole side!) and two of my favorite albums ever: Electric Ladyland and Sign O’ The Times. Damn! If it rains again this year, maybe I’ll just sit inside and listen to all of these…

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