Sandinista is a messy album, it’s about an hour too long and filled with tracks that really just don’t need to be there, but it’s also, when you peel away the filler, a pretty great work. Triple albums are all but unheard of so it’s perhaps no surprise that this was easily The Clash’s most ambitious release. Even if it didn’t quite match up to its predecessor, still the pinnacle of punk, Sandinista contained plenty of tracks that are as good as anything on London Calling.
Tracks like The Call Up – a strange, distinctly un-punk piece with airs of the Combat Rock classic and MIA sampled Straight To Hell – hint at the potential of Sandinista and The Clash’s chameleon like ability to seamlessly integrate other genres into their already rock-solid sound. It’s this blending of sounds that really sets The Clash, and Sandinista in particular, apart from the rest of punk. Most of the album isn’t even punk, even if the sentiment still is.
The Call Up is the perfect example of this. The lyrics and message are still undeniably punk but the sound and tone are something entirely different and something totally unique. It’s tired, cold and eerily distant – it’s basically post-punk really. Mostly it’s just a great song though, particularly Strummer’s surprisingly subtle vocal performance and the great sense of atmosphere.
The fact songs like this, The Equaliser, Lose This Skin and Charlie Don’t Surf were omitted from The Essential Collection is a tragedy. They form the core of an endlessly eclectic and always engaging album that’s been consistently overlooked.