The Guns of Brixton

«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.

«The Guns of Brixton» was a mainstay in the band’s set and when played live Simonon used to switch instruments with Joe Strummer (Simonon on rhythm guitar and Strummer on bass) because he felt uncomfortable playing the bassline and singing lead vocals at the same time.

«The Guns of Brixton» 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 led to the riots, the recession and other problems at that time. Paul Simonon was originally doubtful about the song’s lyrics, which discuss an individual’s paranoid outlook on life, but was encouraged to continue working on it by Strummer.

The song has been covered by numerous bands over the years, including Arcade Fire, Unwritten Law, Dropkick Murphys, Rancid, Jeff Klein, The Bandits, Nouvelle Vague, Calexico, Optimus Rhyme, My Red Hot Nightmare, German punk band Die Toten Hosen with and without Gentleman (see below), Argentine band Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, The Libertines, and the Italian singer Enrico Ruggeri.

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