A precursor to the super, duper deluxe edition re-issue of London Calling, this new mix of the title track offers only the most minute changes to the original.
"London Calling (2012 Mix)," which was mixed by Clash guitarist and co-songwriter Mick Jones, cleans up the original version. While the original vinyl track merged the instruments together, so that those iconic guitar downstrokes felt like massive blows, the new mix seems digitized and each instrument has more clarity. Interestingly, it allows for more dissection of the song and exhibits the delicate interplay between the instruments that often goes unmentioned in Clash discussions. The mix is significantly louder than before, but some of the warm mod range is lost in the new heightening of sound. Also, a clip of Clash vocalist Joe Strummer's starting the tune now kicks off the song, but it does little to enhance the track. But still, the song was pretty much perfect in its first iteration, so any tinkering is likely to send it downward. The new mix allows for a more scientific examination of the parts, but by clarifying the songs' bits and pieces, the singular thrust of it is weakened slightly.
By contrast, the B-side, which is an instrumental version of the A-side, is something of a minor revelation. Perhaps because Strummer died early, Jones' contributions to the group are slightly understated. With Strummer's vocals stripped away, the mastery of Jones' guitar playing becomes evident. While "London Calling" isn't one of the Clash's reggae efforts, the sound doctoring of Jamaican dubbers seems to have left a mark on Jones' notes. But, where the famed Jamaican producers would manipulate sound with knobs, Jones seems to command the strings like they were mixing boards. On the second half of the song, Jones' guitar jumps out of the darkness, only to snap back into murkiness immediately. Throughout the song, Jones bends notes, stinging a single strum into a 20-second stretch, growing in color, shape, and sound, until the note is completely different than its genesis, even though Jones has only struck with his left hand once. It would seem that the note molding of Thurston Moore and J. Masics had foreshadowing, if not a precursor.
This new mix is unnecessary, but it does allow for a more in depth analysis of the parts of "London Calling" than before. And of course, the core of the song is so phenomenal that even a midi version would be damn close to perfect. Interesting, but unnecessary. For Clash maniacs only.
[Editor's note: Review is for new material and remastering, not for original recording. Everybody knows the original version of "London Calling" is the best thing ever, and doesn't need any tweaking, and... oh wait.]