The Clash: Sandinista! (1980)
But I'll admit being a little bewildered (and disappointed) when they dropped Sandinista barely a year later. At 3 LPs, it was even longer than the double-LP London Calling; but even 50% more music, it seemed to have far fewer good (much less great) songs. Sure, a few jumped out even on that first listen -- their rousing cover of Eddy Grant's "Police On My Back" was as terrific as anything they'd done so far; Mick Jones' operatic "Somebody Got Murdered" was bittersweet pop and immensely catchy; the pithy "The Leader" was a perky, rockabilly-tinged little nugget; and songs like "Up In Heaven," "Kingston Advice," and "Washington Bullets" felt like major steps forward in terms of sophistication yet still compelling rock songs. And while I was less enthralled by the band's funky side, I eventually came around on "The Magnificent Seven."
But it was hard to objectively assess the overall work because the highlights seemed buried in a mess of self-indulgence, none of the dub or dance tracks approaching the rock and roll majesty of the predecessor.
For a long time, the more rock-oriented highlights aside, I spent very little time listening to this (certainly relative to London Calling and the self-titled debut, but even relative to Give 'em Enough Rope and, later, Combat Rock). But it's grown on me over time. Like (I'm assuming) all but the true fanatics, I ended up distilling the 3-LP set down into a more manageable mix. And once you purge the stuff that seems to weaken the impact of the stronger tunes (in my own case, mostly the dub stuff), there's a surprisingly coherent, compelling album underneath. It's not London Calling (an impossible standard), but intriguing nonetheless, and certainly not lacking in variety.
Here's "The Magnificent Seven":