R.I.P. Joe Strummer August 21st 1952 - December 22nd 2002
Sandinista is a mess. Call it an inspired mess or self-indulgent one but few accuse it of cohesiveness. While the Clash's fourth album, a triple L.P. from 1980, has its defenders and detractors my estimation remains unchanged since making my own cassette distillation back in the eighties: roughly one album of strong material, one album of fine B-sides and one album of endurance-defying filler.
So, as MRML once presented Cut the Crap Revisited, we’d now like to offer up Sandinista! Live!, a collection of just-about every song the Clash played live from that album. This compilation is not so-much an alternate version (listeners make their own even faster now) as a supplement to the studio work. After all, unlike Cut the Crap, Sandinista doesn't suffer over-production, if anything it suffers from the lack thereof. The final goal of this set was to observe how well the test of the stage succeeded in burning off the dross.
(In the early eighties this image sold as a poster, alongside ones of Rambo and Cheryl Tiegs)
1 Intro Kingston, Jamaica (27-1-'81)
A little Kosmo Vinyl to rile you up.
2. The Magnificent 7 Jaap Edenhal, the Netherlands (10-5-'81)
The original (more so than its re-mixes) succeeds at its somewhat dubious goal (white-boy rap-punk) so well that the live versions, even this guitar-heavy one, rarely out-do the original (the mash-up of the songs and "Armagiddeon Time" preserved on Live at Shea CD possibly excepted).
3. Junco Partner - Kingston, Jamaica (27-1-'81)
Look, I don’t know what makes that bown! sound on the record but it’s fucking annoying and any version without it has a leg up on the original.
4. Ivan Meets G.I. Joe Jaap Edenhal, the Netherlands (10-5-'81)
The Topper song sans the disco touches is kinda fun
5. The Leader Jaap Edenhal, the Netherlands (10-5-'81)
It’s a little slight in the lyrical department but the original rocks any way you cut it.
6. Somebody Got Murdered Jaap Edenhal, the Netherlands (10-5-'81)
Lyrically and musically devastating, this song got a bit buried in the vinyl avalanche that was Sandinista and here it gets a rough treatment with Jones vocal being stretchy but his guitar ringing at full force.
7. One More Time Jaap Edenhal, the Netherlands (10-5-'81)
A throbbing version of one of Sandinista's better reggae tracks.
8. Lightning Strikes Jaap Edenhal, the Netherlands (10-5-'81)
Structurally a bit too similar to Magnificent 7 but this version rocks out.
9. Corner Soul Lille, France (09-05-'81)
This bantam level song has dodgy sound but a solid performance.
10. Let’s Go Crazy Barcelona, Spain (27-04-81)
Great song but by far the worst recording here.
11. The Sound of the Sinners (US Festival, 05-28-83)
A secret joy of Sandinista is this little gospel pastiche done both tongue-in-cheek and with reverence for the power of the music. The live versions are fiery with hilarious Joe intros.
12. Police on my Back Tokyo, Japan (30-01-82)
You’d be hard-pressed to find a bad version of this one, Mick and co. just seemed to love ripping up Eddy Grant's classic.
13. The Call-Up Bonds, New York, USA (09-06-81)
A live audience definitely gave this less-successful single the extra push it needed.
14. Washington Bullets Bonds, New York, USA (09-06-81)
Long one of my fave songs from the album (in retrospective it foreshadows the Mescaleros) despite a few clunky lines ("Castro is the colour that will earn him a spray of lead"), this version features a jam with some toasting (mmmm jam toast).
15. Broadway Bonds, New York, USA (09-06-81)
A subtle, jazzy song from the album that feels more immediate in this setting.
16. Charlie Don’t Surf Jaap Edenhal, the Netherlands (10-5-'81)
A loping version that shows that even with slower material the Clash were still an exciting live band.
17. The Street Parade Bonds, New York, USA (03-06-81)
A noisier version of another of the undeservedly ignored songs from the album.
18. Radio Clash Jaap Edenhal, the Netherlands (10-5-'81)
An honourary Sandinista song (it came out between that album and Combat Rock) and despite being slagged off as "This is Disco Clash" it's never a drag, especially on this burning version.
I’m saddened that “Hitsville UK”, “Something About England”, “Loose This Skin” (resurrected by the Mescaleros-era Strummer) “Rebel Waltz” and “Kingston Advice” (despite being the title of a fine bootleg) never met the stage but glad for what we do have to remember Joe by.
MRML Readers: Is Sandinista trash, treasure or some unholy muddle-up of the two? Let us know in the comments!
Thanks, as always, to If Music Could Talk (esp nsc for the Equaliser jpg), which helped make this post possible, though I’m sure that many of the denizens of that community would make a very different, likely better version of such a compilation. Also thanks to Clash Photo Rockers for many of the fine images herein.
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