LIVE SESSION: The Clash – “Train in Vain”, live at the Lewisham Odeon, 18/02/1980, 16 Tons Tour

LIVE SESSION: The Clash – “Train in Vain”, live at the Lewisham Odeon, 18/02/1980, 16 Tons Tour.

Evidence of their grasp of the roots of rock & roll, on “Train in Vain” the Clash reference Robert Johnson in the title and Ben E. King in the chorus, though in the Clash song the jilted-lover protagonist bemoans “Did you stand by me/No not at all.” With a funky popping guitar riff and a rootsy train whistle-like harmonica hook, the song stands as one of the most infectious and buoyant pop songs of the era. 

The song was literally the hidden gem of the master-stroke London Calling, which spans much of the history of rock & roll — from blues and jazz, to early rock & roll and rockabilly, to funk, ska, and reggae — all injected with a raw enthusiasm and played with an aggression that was still called punk.

.allmusic

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