The Clash – Sandinista!

In December, 1980 The Clash released their 4th studio album Sandinista! The album, a triple, was hot on the heels of The Specials second album More Specials. Whilst the two albums are two bands doing their own thing, they share more in common than one might think?

The Clash, often cited as one of the best bands of all-time, cement this notion further with what is an incredibly varied collection of songs. From straight up ‘Clash Rock’ the album spreads all over the place incorporating; Dub, Reggae, World Music, Dance, Rockabilly, Sampling and even Hip-Hop (remember this was 1980).

The Specials also moved away from their straight up ‘2-Tone’ sound with a record that has stood the test of time very well. The elongated version of Stereotypes is arguably the birth of Trip-Hop’ a good decade and a half before the genre widened.

Sandinista! was critically acclaimed despite being what must have been a marketing nightmare for music execs. Two schools of thought generally seem to suggest either the album should have had two-thirds culled to make an outstanding 4th album. Or the album sits fine just as it is, unique.

Rolling Stone reviewed the album at time of release noting “if this is their worst, which it is, I think they must be, er, the worlds greatest rock and roll band”. Reading that today really brought home that had The Clash split after Sandinista! they really would have a totally infallible back catalogue. 

The album has a warm, straight up love of music feel. Be that the- The Clash in your face sound of The Magnificent Seven or the Space Invader bleeps in harmony with the pure boogie of Ivan Meets G.I. Joe. The experimentation with sound in the intro of Look Here almost harks back a decade or two whilst the World Music sounds of Let’s Go Crazy could be seen as an influence on The Bhundu Boys and many other late 80’s Peel favourites. The Call Up with its non-preaching anti-establishment /war stance is amongst one of the most well put left of centre musical expressions one should be able to recall. 

Beyond the music. Sandinista! is the band at arguably their peak. An album a year; The Clash (1977), Give ‘Em Enough Rope (1978), London Calling (1979), Sandinista! (1980). If one looks at videos from 1980 you can see that the band physically look like rock n’ roll is taking its toll. It’s no real surprise that their next album took a while longer to get together. What is surprising is that Combat Rock became the bands best-selling album by some margin. Sandinista! is where the soul is though…


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