"The Call Up" is a song by English punk rock group The Clash. It was released as the first single from the band's fourth album, Sandinista!. The single was released in November 1980, in advance of the release of Sandinista!, with the anti-nuclear "Stop the World" as its B-side.
The song opens and closes with a US Marines' marching Military cadence and is mostly about The Draft though it also deals war in general. With the line "It's 55 minutes past 11..." the song directly reference the Minutes to Midnight Doomsday Clock which was established and maintained by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists at the University of Chicago, which denotes by just how few minutes it is to midnight to what the impending threat of just how close the world is estimated to be to a global disaster, and it also includes a rejection of dead-end jobs ("who gives you work and why should you do it?"). Though the US discontinued the draft in 1973, in 1980 Congress re-instated the requirement for men aged 18–25 to register with the Selective Service System. This may have inspired the song's subject matter as it was a topical subject in America during 1980, the year when Sandinista! was written and recorded.
The song was recorded at Electric Lady Studios in New York.
Don Letts filmed the single's accompanying video in a warehouse owned by singer and collector of military paraphernalia Chris Farlowe. The video was in black and white, and featured the band dressed in costumes consisting of various parts of military uniforms and gear.
The single was reissued in 1981 in the U.S. by Epic Records (catalog number 02036) in 7" vinyl format and with a different cover. On the B-side of the US release was "The Cool Out", a dub of "The Call Up".
There is also a 12" version as well.
In addition to its inclusion on Sandinista!, "The Call Up" has been included on both The Clash on Broadway and The Singles. It is absent from The Essential Clash, although "Stop The World", its B-side, is included. "Stop The World" is also included on The Clash on Broadway and the B-side compilation, Super Black Market Clash.
The single was reissued on CD as Disc 12 of Singles Box, complete with a re-creation of the original sleeve artwork, but omits "The Cool Out", making it the only disc in the set that does not include all non-UK released tracks. "The Cool Out" is however included on Disc 14 as part of the "Magnificent Seven" release.
The song was covered by Chris Whitley, using only voice and acoustic guitar, as track four on his 2004 release "War Crime Blues". It was also covered by The Lothars as track four, disc two of a compilation tribute album The Sandinista! Project.