The Clash's "Sandinista!" Revisited
Ah yes, December 1980. Some of you whippersnappers weren't even expelled yet, but heck yes I was and Sandinista was released. The follow up to "London Calling" was a 3 disc, 36 song album with a hand written (and illustrated lyric sheet).
I ain't gonna lie. I did some awful stuff to get a copy- but I got it. And I had no clue what 'Sandinista' was and I didn't care. I was 100% Joe Strummer obsessed by this point and this was something new to covet. I didn't appreciate it. I hated most of it, loved 2 songs and lined up the needle on the blank lines (that's vinyl LP speak for changing tracks) to miss songs.
What sucked? "Hitsville Hits UK", though I stole the saying 'smarmy' and use it to this date. "Junco Partner", "Junkie Slip", "One More Dub", yuck. I don't think I made it all the way through those tunes until the 1990's and I ain't kidding.
Ya see this came out as punk was ramping up. I was a Clash fan- but this? It was like an arty intelligent punk. I was busy making trouble to think. I had friends and I have written about them here who influenced my learning in those days and alerted me to new music like dub (not step) and reggae, 'world music' I suppose would be its name. But nah, Id rather hug a wall at a Black Flag show then really sit in a pot filled room for too long.
For some reason today I felt like listening to CD's. So I grabbed a fistful. They're alphabetized, so I snagged a few Elvis Costello bootlegs and then as I skimmed, saw Sandinista. Tucked that up and off I went. It was 4 songs in when I felt compelled to turn it up. What is this I'm hearing and why have I never heard it before.
I have listened to this album without thought so many times that I realize now I never actively listened. Have you heard "The Leader" lately? Holy hell stop reading and go get it on Spotify right this minute. If the beat don't grab you the story will. My God Joe's voice is breath taking.
Don't give up there stay for "Something About England", Joe and Mick as storytellers this time. Brilliant and vivid. What the hell was I listening to 'TV Party" with Henry Rollins when I could have been hearing this?
Hang tight, want insanely cool bass? "Look Here" a street corner sing a long that will get your foot moving strong enough for your shoe to fly off. Piano? fabulous. Piano on a punk band album? Kids these are punks these are geniuses.
The album is now a 2 CD set. Still 36 songs and well some of the songs still suck. But the suck to amaze ratio has shifted more dramatically than you can imagine. This is disc one. I wont even attempt to revisit both in a day. This requires so much of my entire being to focus. "The Sound of Sinners" the closing song of disc 1 was one of the most annoying songs in 1980. In 2012, its got so much meaning. With Joe no longer here it even tugs a bit at my heart all the more. This may be tongue in cheek but regardless it is magnificent.
"If Music Could Talk" is a yummy Joe sound "Lighting Strikes", still cracks me up. My brother used to say 'lets have some music now k?' in mocking of Joes phone in to the WBAI radio show that starts the tune. The beat is sex to the ear and the story- again more vivid than songs of the day. "See New York's one and only tree''.
OK wait I lied there is one song on disc two that I will close with 'Midnight Log", this was a fave then and it sure as hell is now. Another unintentionally sexy song 'speaking of the devil, he ain't been seen in years. Cept every twenty minutes he zooms between my ears'
Sandinista deserves a re release. London Calling was fabulous- Earth shattering even. Sandinista was far too ahead of its time. It's time is now.