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Editors’ Notes

Sandinista! is what happens when a band is brave enough to fail — and then turns that failure inside out. At 36 tracks it's messy, brilliant, gorgeous, infuriating, necessary, and one would expect nothing less (and God help us, nothing more) from "the only band that matters." Dipping their fingers in every musical pie from gospel ("The Sound of Sinners") to disco ("Lightning Strikes"), Europop ("Hitsville U.K.") to Dadaist noise collage ("Silicone On Sapphire"), the Clash refused to edit themselves, named the album in tribute to Nicaraguan insurgents, and thumbed their noses at the expectations of fans and critics alike. The conventional wisdom is that there's a solid single album inside Sandinista!, just waiting to be let out. Don't believe it. There are some real missteps, but every last track is at the very least interesting: lyrically, musically, or just in terms of the sonic furniture. Trying to cherry-pick "the good ones" runs contrary to the messy, democratic spirit of the whole project. And besides, one person's necessity is another's throwaway is another's guilty pleasure. Just let go of all expectations, embrace the chaos, and actually listen.

Customer Reviews

Let it ride

This album is epic when to be listened to in it's entirety on on the drive on a surf/fishing trip down the baja on a cassette tape of the original vinyl. It's quirky, unexpected, loose and lazy, unpredictable nature is the soundtrack of that type of adventure. Driving in the bus or sitting in camp with not a care in the world listening to this, you just feel cooler than everyone else in the world. This does not translate on ITunes.

Guero de Blanco

I was shocked to see there aren't any reviews of Sandinista. This is the Clash's masterpiece second only to London Calling. Charlie don't Surf, Police on my back, the Crooked Beat and many more are standouts but it is the whole composition that is the true reward.

Not their best

Some consider “Sandinista” to be the Clash’s “White Album.” And some consider it a sloppy, overproduced mess. I tend to lean towards the latter. You could put together a very respectable Clash anthology without including a single song from this album (with the exception of “The Magnificent Seven,” of course).

That said, for $16.99, you could probably find enough songs out of the 36 on offer here to justify the purchase.

There are certainly great songs on this album: “The Crooked Beat,” “The Sound of Sinners,” “Let’s Go Crazy,” “Lighting Strikes,” “Charlie Don’t Surf,” “Rebel Waltz,” “The Equalizer,” all come to mind.

There are also a lot of forgettable, mediocre songs: “Police on My Back,” “Somebody Got Murdered,” “Hitsville UK,” “Something About England,” “Up In Heaven,” “Corner Soul,” etc.

And then there are some (“Lose This Skin,” “Washington Bullets,” “Kingston Advice”) that are just unlistenable, Godawful crap.

There is some truly challenging stuff, like the musique concrete inspired “Mensforth Hill,” or the last song “Shepherd’s Delight,” which one must give props for just for the outside-ness of it all.

But the problem with “Sandinista” is that it is essentially a period piece: covering the Reagan/Thatcher era of the very early 80’s. Time has not been very kind to it; this album sounds very dated. Songs like “When Ivan Meets G.I. Joe” seem hilariously antiquated today; even “The Call-Up” sounds like it was from the distant past.

The influence of ska legend Mikey Dread is prevalent, and if you’re a fan of dub reggae, then that might be a plus towards getting this album. Of all the “world beat” flavors, it’s dub reggae that’s the most front-and-center. Sometimes it works (”The Crooked Beat”), and sometimes it doesn’t.

Bottom line: if you’re new to The Clash – get the first album or “London Calling.” Or both.


Formed: 1976 in London, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s

The Sex Pistols may have been the first British punk rock band, but the Clash were the definitive British punk rockers. Where the Pistols were nihilistic, the Clash were fiery and idealistic, charged with righteousness and a leftist political ideology. From the outset, the band was more musically adventurous, expanding its hard rock & roll with reggae, dub, and rockabilly among other roots musics. Furthermore, they were blessed with two exceptional songwriters in Joe Strummer and Mick Jones, each...
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