Studio album by The Clash
Released 12 December 1980
Recorded February 1980 at Pluto Studios, Manchester; March 1980 at The Power Station, New York City; March-April 1980 at Electric Lady Studios, New York City; May 1980 at Channel One Studios, Kingston, Jamaica; August 1980 at Wessex Studios, London
Genre Punk rock
Length 144:09
Label CBS, Epic
Producer Mikey Dread, The Clash
The Clash chronology
London Calling
Combat Rock
Singles from Sandinista!
  1. "The Call Up"
    Released: 28 November 1980
  2. "Hitsville UK"
    Released: 16 January 1981
  3. "The Magnificent Seven"
    Released: 10 April 1981

Sandinista! is the fourth studio album by the English punk rock band the Clash. It was released on 12 December 1980 as a triple album containing 36 tracks, with 6 songs on each side.[1][2] Anticipating the "world music" trend of the 1980s, it features reggae, jazz, mock gospel, rockabilly, folk, dub, rhythm and blues, calypso, and rap.[1][2][3]

For the first time, the band's traditional songwriting credits of Strummer and Jones were replaced by a generic credit to the Clash[2], and the band cut the album royalties, in order to release the 3-LP at a low price.[4][5] The title comes from the Nicaraguan socialist political party, the Sandinistas, and its catalogue number, 'FSLN1', refers to the acronym for Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional.[4][3][6]

Sandinista! was voted the best album of the year in The Village Voice's Pazz & Jop critics poll, and it was ranked number 404 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time in 2003.[3]


Background and recording

The album was recorded over most of 1980, in London, Manchester, Jamaica and New York. It was produced by the band (which essentially meant Mick Jones and Joe Strummer), recorded and mixed by Bill Price, and engineered by Jeremy "Jerry" Green (Wessex Sound Studios), J. P. Nicholson (Electric Lady Studios), Lancelot "Maxie" McKenzie (Channel One Studios), and Bill Price (Pluto + Power Station Studios). Dub versions for some of the songs and toasting was done by Mikey Dread, who had first worked with the band for their 1980 single "Bankrobber". With Sandinista! the band reached beyond punk and reggae into dub, rhythm and blues, calypso, gospel and other genres.[3] The album clearly displays the influence of reggae and in particular producer Lee "Scratch" Perry (who had worked with the band on their 1977 single "Complete Control" and who had opened some of the band's shows during its stand at Bond's in New York in 1980), with a dense, echo-filled sound on even the straight rock songs.[1][2]

When recording began in New York bass guitarist Paul Simonon was busy making a film, and he was replaced briefly by Ian Dury and the Blockheads bassist Norman Watt-Roy; this later caused some bad feeling when Watt-Roy and keyboard player Mickey Gallagher, a fellow Blockhead, claimed they were responsible for co-composing the song "The Magnificent Seven", as the song was based on a tune of theirs. Dread, too, was upset that he was not credited as the album's producer, although he was credited with "Version Mix". Other guests on the album include actor Tim Curry (providing the voice of a priest on "The Sound of Sinners"), singer Ellen Foley (Jones' partner at the time), former Voidoids guitarist Ivan Julian, former Eddie and the Hot Rods member Lew Lewis, and Strummer's old friend and musical collaborator Tymon Dogg, who plays violin, sings on and wrote the track "Lose This Skin"; he later joined Strummer's band The Mescaleros. Mickey Gallagher's children also made appearances: his two sons, Luke and Ben, singing a version of "Career Opportunities" from the band's first album, and his daughter Maria singing a snippet of "The Guns of Brixton", from London Calling, at the end of the track "Broadway".[1][2][7]

This is also the only Clash album on which all four members have a lead vocal. Drummer Topper Headon made a unique lead vocal contribution on the disco song "Ivan Meets G.I. Joe", and bassist Paul Simonon sings lead on "The Crooked Beat".[2]

Four singles were released from the Sandinista! sessions in the UK: "Bankrobber" (which did not appear on the album), "The Call Up", "Hitsville UK", and "The Magnificent Seven". The last deserves mention as possibly the first-ever British rap single and as one of the first rap singles by a white band.

The triple-LP set was, like London Calling, a subject of trickery towards the record company from the band. Two contradictory accounts of the release of the album exist. Some say that the Clash pulled the same trick a second time by saying they wanted to include a 12" single with their double album, and then getting 3 full-length discs pressed before executives became wise. Another belief is that The Clash surrendered all of their album royalties for the first 200,000 copies sold in order to make the 3-LP set a reality. Joe Strummer said in an interview by Judy McGuire for Punk Magazine: "Well, now you're talking to a man who forwent the royalties on Sandinista!"[8] Regardless of which of these is true, either situation paints the band in a good light, putting their fans before and above any other involved entity.[2][5][4]

A one-LP distillation of the album, called Sandinista Now!, was sent to press and radio. The side one track listing was "Police on My Back", "Somebody Got Murdered", "The Call Up", "Washington Bullets", "Ivan Meets G.I. Joe" and "Hitsville U.K.". The side two track listing was "Up in Heaven (Not Only Here)", "The Magnificent Seven", "The Leader", "Junco Partner", "One More Time" and "The Sound of Sinners".[2][5]

The song "Washington Bullets" was Clash lyric-writer Joe Strummer's most extensive—and most specific—political statement to date. In it, Strummer name checks conflicts or controversies from around the world; namely in Chile, Nicaragua, Cuba, Afghanistan and Tibet. (In reference to the first three, Strummer seems to side with what he sees as popular leftist movements or governments, while in the latter two, he sharply criticizes the policy of Moscow's and Beijing's communist governments for what he sees as their imperialist actions). The original Rolling Stone review of Sandinista! calls "Washington Bullets", along with "The Equaliser" and "The Call Up", "the heart of the album".[5][9]

The original, 3-disc vinyl release of "Sandinista" included a tri-fold lyric sheet cleverly titled The Armagideon Times, no. 3 (a play on "Armagideon Time", the b-side from the single London Calling.) Armagideon Times, nos. 1 and 2 were Clash fanzines. The lyric sheet featured cartoons credited to Steve Bell, as well as hand-written (but still legible) lyrics of all songs. The 2-CD release contains a facsimile of the lyric sheet considerably reduced in size.[1][2]

Joe Strummer once told Rolling Stone magazine that the concept for a triple-LP (a rarity in the rock music world) came from friendly competition with American artist Bruce Springsteen. When their earlier LP London Calling was released in 1980, critics said that Springsteen's upcoming double-disc album The River would outsell the Clash effort and wipe away any impact. Strummer's response was: "Right Bruce. Suck on this". The band then expanded Sandinista into a triple album.[5][4]


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 2.5/5 stars[10]
Blender 5/5 stars [11] 3/5 stars [12]
Robert Christgau (A-) [13]
Rolling Stone 5/5 stars [14]

Sandinista! is a stylistic and topical potpourri that anticipates the "world music" trend of the late '80s and early '90s. Reggae, jazz, mock gospel, rockabilly, folk, dub, Rhythm and blues, calypso, Clash-style rock and other musical genres appear on Sandinista! The album included two rap songs at a time when rap was new even among its core black audience.

The rock music world hailed Sandinista! as a masterpiece. John Piccarella, in a review headlined "The Clash Drop The Big One" and giving the album the highest possible rating of five stars, argues that in effect, the band said "to hell with Clash style, there's a world out there."[5][15] Some critics have argued that the album would have worked better as a less-ambitious, smaller project, while Piccarella (in his Rolling Stone review) and others think of the album as a breakthrough that deserves comparison to the Beatles' White Album.[4] Robert Christgau said "if this is their worst--which it is, I think--they must be, er, the world's greatest rock and roll band"[16] and graded the album A-.

The triple album won several "best of the year" critics polls in 1981. It was voted the best album of the year in The Village Voice's Pazz & Jop critics poll. Dave Marsh noted that it was a record whose topic was as many years ahead of its time as its sound.[17] Alternative Press magazine included Sandinista! on its 2000 list of the "10 Essential Political-Revolution Albums"[18] In 2003, the album was ranked number 404 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.[3] The College Music Journal ranked Sandinista! number two on its 2004 list of the "Top 20 Most-Played Albums of 1981".[19]

The Sandinista! Project, a tribute to the album featuring The Smithereens, Camper Van Beethoven, Jon Langford (Mekons) and Sally Timms, Amy Rigby, Katrina Leskanich (of Katrina and the Waves), Wreckless Eric, Willie Nile, Matthew Ryan, Stew, Sex Clark Five, Sid Griffin & Coal Porters, Haale, The Blizzard of 78 featuring Mikey Dread, Ruby on the Vine, and many others, was released on 15 May 2007, on the 00:02:59 Records (a label named after a lyric from the Sandinista! song "Hitsville U.K."). The album also features a collaboration by Soul Food and Mickey Gallagher on "Midnight Log".[20][21][22]

Track listing

The compact disc release has the first three sides on the first CD and the latter three sides on the second CD.

All songs written and composed by The Clash, except where noted. 

Side one
No. Title Lead vocals Length
1. "The Magnificent Seven"   Joe Strummer 5:28
2. "Hitsville UK"   Mick Jones, Ellen Foley 4:20
3. "Junco Partner" ("writer, at present, unknown" on liner notes) Joe Strummer 4:53
4. "Ivan Meets G.I. Joe"   Topper Headon 3:05
5. "The Leader"   Joe Strummer 1:41
6. "Something About England"   Mick Jones, Joe Strummer 3:42
Side two
No. Title Lead vocals Length
1. "Rebel Waltz"   Joe Strummer 3:25
2. "Look Here" (written by Mose Allison) Joe Strummer 2:44
3. "The Crooked Beat"   Paul Simonon 5:29
4. "Somebody Got Murdered"   Mick Jones 3:34
5. "One More Time" (written by The Clash and Mikey Dread) Joe Strummer 3:32
6. "One More Dub" (Dub version of "One More Time"; written by The Clash and Dread) Instrumental 3:34
Side three
No. Title Lead vocals Length
1. "Lightning Strikes (Not Once but Twice)"   Joe Strummer 4:51
2. "Up in Heaven (Not Only Here)"   Mick Jones 4:31
3. "Corner Soul"   Joe Strummer 2:43
4. "Let's Go Crazy"   Joe Strummer 4:25
5. "If Music Could Talk" (written by The Clash and Dread) Joe Strummer 4:36
6. "The Sound of Sinners"   Joe Strummer 4:00
Side four
No. Title Lead vocals Length
1. "Police on My Back" (written by Eddy Grant; originally performed by The Equals) Mick Jones 3:15
2. "Midnight Log"   Joe Strummer 2:11
3. "The Equaliser"   Joe Strummer 5:47
4. "The Call Up"   Joe Strummer 5:25
5. "Washington Bullets"   Joe Strummer 3:51
6. "Broadway" (Features an Epilogue of "The Guns of Brixton" sung by Maria Gallagher) Joe Strummer 5:45
Side five
No. Title Lead vocals Length
1. "Lose This Skin" (written by Tymon Dogg) Tymon Dogg 5:07
2. "Charlie Don't Surf"   Joe Strummer, Mick Jones 4:55
3. "Mensforth Hill" ("Something About England" backwards with overdubs) Instrumental 3:42
4. "Junkie Slip"   Joe Strummer 2:48
5. "Kingston Advice"   Joe Strummer 2:36
6. "The Street Parade"   Joe Strummer 3:26
Side six
No. Title Lead vocals Length
1. "Version City"   Joe Strummer 4:23
2. "Living in Fame" (Dub Version of "If Music Could Talk"; written by The Clash and Dread) Mikey Dread 4:36
3. "Silicone on Sapphire" (Dub version of "Washington Bullets") Joe Strummer 4:32
4. "Version Pardner" (Dub version of "Junco Partner") Joe Strummer 5:22
5. "Career Opportunities"   Luke Gallagher, Ben Gallagher 2:30
6. "Shepherds Delight" (Dub Version of "Police and Thieves"[citation needed]; written by The Clash and Dread) Instrumental 3:25



Chart positions


Year Chart Position
1980 UK Album Chart 19
Norwegian Albums Chart.[23] 8
Swedish Albums Chart[24] 9
1981 Billboard Pop albums[25] 24


Year Single Chart Position
1980 "The Call Up" UK Charts 40
1981 "Hitsville U.K." 56
U.S. Mainstream Rock Tracks 53
"The Magnificent Seven" UK Charts 34
1982 Billboard Club Play Singles 21


Certifier Date Certification Sales
RIAA (U.S.)[26] 20 April 1999 Gold 500,000


  1. ^ a b c d e Letts Don; Joe Strummer, Mick Jones, Paul Simonon, Topper Headon, Terry Chimes, Rick Elgood, The Clash (2001). The Clash, Westway to the World (Documentary). New York, NY: Sony Music Entertainment, Dorismo, Uptown Films. Event occurs at 55:00–63:00. ISBN 0738900826. OCLC 49798077. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Gilbert, Pat (2005) [2004]. "8-13, Epilogue, Discography, Bibliography". Passion Is a Fashion: The Real Story of The Clash (4th ed.). London: Aurum Press. pp. 321, 332, 362, 367, 373–388. ISBN 1845131134. OCLC 61177239. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Levy, Joe; Steven Van Zandt (2006) [2005]. "404) Sandinista". Rolling Stone The 500 Greatest Album of All Time (3rd ed.). London: Turnaround. ISBN 1932958614. OCLC 70672814. 
    Related news articles:
  4. ^ a b c d e MTV Rockumentary. Interviewer: Unknown; Presenter: Kurt Loder. MTV, London, England
    Related news articles:
  5. ^ a b c d e f Deeth, John. "Turning Rebellion Into Money: The Story of the Clash". Retrieved 2008-02-18. 
  6. ^ Jaffee, Larry. "The Politics of Rock" Popular Music and Society, Winter 1987, pp. 19–30.
  7. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Sandinista! Review". AllMusic. Retrieved 2008-02-18. 
  8. ^ McGuire, Judy. Joe Strummer Interview. Retrieved on 2008-02-22
  9. ^ Peet, Preston (2001-07-09). "where's the clash when we need them?". Disinformation. Retrieved 2008-02-19. 
  10. ^ Allmusic Review
  11. ^ Blender Review
  12. ^ Review
  13. ^ Robert Christgau Review
  14. ^ Rolling Stone Review
  15. ^ Piccarella, John (5 March 1981). "Red-Hot Rock and Roll, A Joyful Noise and Politics That Live: The Clash Drop the Big One". Rolling Stone: 57–58. 
  16. ^ [1] Robert Christgau Review
  17. ^ Dave, Marsh (1999) [1989]. The Heart of Rock and Soul: The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made. New York, N.Y.: Da Capo Press. pp. 78. ISBN 030680901X. OCLC 40200194. 
  18. ^ "10 Essential Political-Revolution Albums". Alternative Press: 144. November 2000. 
  19. ^ "Top 20 Most-Played Albums of 1981". College Music Journal: 8. January 5, 2004. 
  20. ^ Clash, The; Joe Grushecky; Katrina Leskanich; Willie Nile; Ship & Pilot.; Soul Food (Musical group); Sunset Heroes (2004-09-21). The Sandinista! Project A Tribute to the Clash (Compact Disc). England: 00:02:59 Records. OCLC 178980813. 
  21. ^ "The Sandinista Project". Retrieved 2008-02-20. 
  22. ^ "Cary Baker's conqueroo - The Sandinista! Project Announcements". Retrieved 2008-02-20. 
  23. ^ "Discography The Clash". Retrieved 17 February 2008.
  24. ^ "Discography The Clash". Retrieved 26 October 2008.
  25. ^ "The Clash > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums". Allmusic. Retrieved 26 October 2008.
  26. ^ "Gold and Platinum: Searchable Database". RIAA.!&artist=The%20Clash&format=ALBUM&category=GROUP&after=on&startMonth=1&startYear=1958&sort=Artist&perPage=50. Retrieved 2008-10-26. 


  • Gilbert, Pat (2005) [2004]. Passion Is a Fashion: The Real Story of The Clash (4th ed.). London: Aurum Press. ISBN 1845131134. OCLC 61177239. 
  • Gray, Marcus (2005) [1995]. The Clash: Return of the Last Gang in Town (5th revised ed.). London: Helter Skelter. ISBN 1905139101. OCLC 60668626. 
  • Green, Johnny; Garry Barker (2003) [1997]. A Riot of Our Own: Night and Day with The Clash (3rd ed.). London: Orion. ISBN 0752858432. OCLC 52990890. 
  • Gruen, Bob; Chris Salewicz (2004) [2001]. The Clash (3rd ed.). London: Omnibus. ISBN 1903399343. OCLC 69241279. 
  • Needs, Kris (2005-01-25). Joe Strummer and the Legend of the Clash. London: Plexus. ISBN 085965348X. OCLC 53155325. 
  • Topping, Keith (2004) [2003]. The Complete Clash (2nd ed.). Richmond: Reynolds & Hearn. ISBN 1903111706. OCLC 63129186. 

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