Sunday, October 21, 2007

Sandinista! (1980)

Well, the Clash. For five years, from 1977 to 1982, they arguably had all of rock culture by the throat. They blew up and they were huge—then, more or less, they just blew away. With Joe Strummer dead now nearly five years I miss them and all they represented even more than I did 20 years ago. Sometimes it seems all we're left with is a lot of arguments about the relative merits of priceless treasure. That can be seen, for example, in the range of opinion about which of their albums is best. Most people probably say London Calling. A significant portion of fans claim the original, 1977 U.K. self-titled release as the landmark. I have even seen people stump for Give 'em Enough Rope and Combat Rock (and don't forget Black Market Clash). I am here to tell you that this is the one, understanding I'm in the minority, where conventional wisdom tends to deem it little more than an interesting failure. But this is only a failure when you consider the handful or so of weak songs, most of them found on the third vinyl LP of the original release, and forget about the best. The epic riches found here and only here are not matched anywhere else in all of their catalog: "The Magnificent Seven," "Hitsville UK," "Rebel Waltz," "Somebody Got Murdered," "Lightning Strikes (Not Once But Twice)," "Up in Heaven (Not Only Here)," "Police On My Back," "Washington Bullets," "Charlie Don't Surf." This is amazing stuff. But, to be fair, I'm going to call for an end to these kinds of lists and judgments. When it comes to the Clash, the best idea is to collect them all. (P.S. Lists and judgments to continue immediately following this post.)


  1. i've bought this album 20 years ago and still i find something new everytime i listen to it. really envy those vergins ears who get close to this monumental one for the first time. if you put another clash album my choice would be for combat rock - even if you're too right saying "the best idea is collect them all"

  2. i loved your text!
    sandinist is amazing

    5 years without the god of music

    "People can change anything they want to, and that means anything in the world. Show me any country and there will be people in it trying to bring humanity back into the center of the ring. Follow that for a time, ya know, really think on that. Without people, we’re nothing."

    but what are we without JOE?

  3. I agree, this is the absolute best.