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The Guns of Brixton - The Clash

The Guns of Brixton

London Calling
punk punk rock rock british reggae


"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. 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, Polish street punk band The Analogs and Kazik & Buldog (they also played this song live since 2007 and with wind instruments on 2008 mini tour), Argentine band Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, The Libertines, and the Italian singer Enrico Ruggeri. In 1981 a German punk band named Soilent Grün used the melody of "The Guns of Brixton" for their song "Spitz Wie Lumpi". Sydney born band The Beautiful Girls released a cover version in 2003 entitled "Guns of Brixton / Dub Be Good to Me". The bass line was also sampled for Beats International's 1990 hit "Dub Be Good to Me" and Cypress Hill's 2004 hit "What's Your Number?". French dub-rock outfit Guns of Brixton formed in 2004 took their name from this song. In 2006, MC Chris used "The Guns of Brixton" as a beat on the song "Blastic", from the album Dungeon Master of Ceremonies. Arcade Fire's acoustic version of the song was likely played for the first time during their 5 day mini-tour of London in early February 2007; it was also used to close their 4 night stint at Brixton Academy in March 2007. They also performed it on the BBC's Culture Show. In January 2007, NME reported that The Good, the Bad and the Queen, which features Simonon on bass, ended the first set of their UK tour (Trinity Hall, Bristol) in promotion of their debut album with this song (and Simonon on vocals). Santogold covered the song in 2008 for her Top Ranking mixtape with Diplo. The lyrics were changed from Brixton to Brooklyn.


The Clash were a punk rock band from London, England, United Kingdom, active from 1976 to 1985. One of the most successful and iconic bands from the first wave of punk in the 70s, they incorporated rock and roll, reggae, rockabilly, and eventually many other music styles into their repertoire. They were legendary for their uncommonly intense stage performances. From their earliest days as a band, The Clash stood apart from their peers with their musicianship as well as their lyrics Show more ...

The Guns of Brixton - The Clash

When they kick at your front door
How are you gonna come?
With your hands on your head
Or on the trigger of your gun

When the law break in
How are you gonna go?
Shot down on the pavement
Or waiting on death row

You can crush us
You can bruise us
But you ll have to answer to
Oh, the guns of Brixton

The money feels good
And your life you like it well
But surely your time will come
As in heaven, as in hell

You see, he feels like Ivan
Born under the Brixton sun
His game is called survivin
At the end of the harder they come

You know it means no mercy
They caught him with a gun
No need for the Black Maria
Goodbye to the Brixton sun

You can crush us
You can bruise us
Yes, even shoot us
But oh-the guns of Brixton

When they kick at your front door
How are you gonna come?
With your hands on your head
Or on the trigger of your gun

You can crush us
You can bruise us
Yes, even shoot us
But oh-the guns of Brixton

Shot down on the pavement
Waiting in death row
His game is called survivin
As in heaven as in hell

You can crush us
You can bruise us
But you ll have to answer to
Oh, the guns of Brixton



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