The Guns of Brixton (3:09)

Cover of London Calling

From London Calling and 38 other releases

“The Guns of Brixton” is a song by The Clash on their third album, London Calling, released in 1979. It was written and sung by bassist Paul Simonon, who grew up in Brixton, south London. It has a strong reggae influence, reflecting the culture of the area, with a knowing nod to the classic reggae gangster film, The Harder They Come. A somewhat heavier, faster version than the one found on London Calling appeared on the live compilation From Here to Eternity: Live, released in 1999.

The song pre-dates the race riots that took place in the 1980s in Brixton but the lyrics depict the feelings of discontent that were building due to heavy-handedness of the police that lead to the riots, the recession and other problems at that time.

Not originally released as a single in 1979 when London Calling was released, “The Guns of Brixton” was released by CBS Records as a CD single from the remastered version of the album in July 1990 (catalog number 656072-2), to reach #57 in the UK Singles Charts. The track listing is:

1. “Return to Brixton” — 3:47
2. “Return to Brixton” — 6:55
3. “Return to Brixton” (SW2 Dub) — 6:00
4. “The Guns of Brixton” — 3:09

It was the only track written solely by Simonon to be released on any original Clash album.

When playing the song live Simonon used to switch instruments with Strummer because he felt uncomfortable playing the bassline and singing lead vocals.

A section of “The Guns of Brixton” appears as a reprise at the end of the song “Broadway” on the Clash’s album Sandinista!, sung by a very young Maria Gallagher, with a simple keyboard accompaniment.


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