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The Clash - Sandinista!.jpg
Studio album by
Released12 December 1980 (1980-12-12)
RecordedFebruary 1980, Pluto, Manchester; March 1980, Power Station, New York City; March–April 1980, Electric Lady, New York City; May 1980, Channel One, Kingston, Jamaica; August 1980, Wessex, London
LabelCBS, Epic
ProducerThe 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.[7][8] It crosses various genres including funk, reggae, jazz, gospel, rockabilly, folk, dub, rhythm and blues, calypso, disco, and rap.[7][8][9] For the first time, the band's traditional songwriting credits of Strummer and Jones were replaced by a generic credit to the Clash.[8] The band agreed to a decrease in album royalties in order to release the 3-LP at a low price.[10][11]

The title refers to the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, and its catalogue number, 'FSLN1', refers to the abbreviation of the party's Spanish name, Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional.[9][10][12]

Sandinista! was mostly well received, however, there was criticism towards the large size of the triple album. Sandinista! is the lowest charting album for the Clash in their native United Kingdom. However, the album was influential in the punk rock movement with its experimental sound and was voted best album of the year in the Pazz & Jop critics poll in The Village Voice. In 2020 it was ranked number 323 on the Rolling Stone list of "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time" and Slant Magazine listed the album at number 85 on its "Best Albums of the 1980s" list.[13]

Background and recording[edit]

The album was recorded over most of 1980, in London, Manchester, Jamaica and New York. It was produced by the band (primarily Mick Jones and Joe Strummer), recorded and mixed by Bill Price, and engineered by Jeremy "Jerry" Green (Wessex Sound Studios), J. P. Nichols (Electric Lady Studios), Lancelot "Maxie" McKenzie (Channel One Studios), and Bill Price (Pluto + Power Station Studios). Dub versions of 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.[9] The album clearly displays the influence of reggae musician and 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.[7][8]

When recording began in New York, bass guitarist Paul Simonon was busy making a film called Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains, 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 singer Ellen Foley (Jones' partner at the time), guitarist Ivan Julian formerly of the Voidoids, 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. 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".[7][8][5]

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 song "Ivan Meets G.I. Joe", and Simonon sings lead on "The Crooked Beat".[8]


According to Joe Strummer, the decision to release a triple-LP was their way of mocking CBS for resisting their desire to release London Calling as a double album, then releasing Bruce Springsteen's double album The River less than a year later.[14] Strummer took pleasure in the abundance, saying "It was doubly outrageous. Actually, it was triply outrageous."[15] Mick Jones said, "I always saw it as a record for people who were, like, on oil rigs. Or Arctic stations. People that weren't able to get to the record shops regularly."

The band's wish to release the album at a low price was also met with resistance, and they had to forgo any royalties on the first 200,000 copies sold in the UK and a 50% cut in royalties elsewhere.[16][17]

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". A single disc promotional sampler 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".[8][11]

The song "Washington Bullets" was lyricist 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 criticises the policy of Moscow's and Beijing's communist governments for what he sees as their imperialist actions). The Rolling Stone review of Sandinista! calls "Washington Bullets", along with "The Equaliser" and "The Call Up", "the heart of the album".[11][18]

The original, 3-disc vinyl release of Sandinista! included a tri-fold lyric sheet 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 the original songs. The 2-CD release contains a facsimile of the lyric sheet considerably reduced in size.[7][8]

The cover photo of the band was taken by Pennie Smith, in Camley Street, behind St Pancras railway station.[19]


Professional ratings
Review scores
Alternative Press4/5[20]
The Baltimore Sun[21]
Rolling Stone[1]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide[24]
Spin Alternative Record Guide8/10[26]
The Village VoiceA−[27]

John Piccarella, in a review for Rolling Stone headlined "The Clash Drop the Big One", argued that in effect, the band said "to hell with Clash style, there's a world out there."[11][28] 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".[10] Robert Christgau wrote in The Village Voice, "If this is their worst—which it is, I think—they must be, er, the world's greatest rock and roll band".[27]

The triple album was included in several "best of the year" critics' polls in 1981. It was voted first place in The Village Voice's 1981 Pazz & Jop critics' poll.[29] According to CMJ, Sandinista! was the second most-played album of 1981 on American college radio.[30] Dave Marsh noted that it was a record whose topic was as many years ahead of its time as its sound.[31] Alternative Press included Sandinista! on its 2000 list of the "10 Essential Political-Revolution Albums".[32] In 2018, Sandinista! was ranked at number 144 on Pitchfork's list of the 200 best albums of the 1980s.[33] In 2020, the album was ranked at number 323 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.[34]

The Sandinista! Project, a tribute to the album featuring the Smithereens, Camper Van Beethoven, Jon Langford and Sally Timms (Mekons), Amy Rigby, Katrina Leskanich (of Katrina and the Waves), Wreckless Eric, Willie Nile, Matthew Ryan, Stew, Mark Cutler, 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".[35][36][37]

Sandinista! is remembered as an important influence for the Chilean rock band Los Prisioneros. The band members discovered the album in the austral summer of 1981 through a special report in Radio Concierto.[38] Jorge González recalls he found it "advanced" and "Martian" and that "it taught me to do music".[38]

Track listing[edit]

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

All lead vocals by Joe Strummer, except where noted.

All tracks are written by the Clash, except where noted.

Side one
No.TitleWriter(s)Lead vocalsLength
1."The Magnificent Seven"Mick Jones, Strummer, Topper Headon, Norman Watt-Roy, Mickey Gallagher 5:28
2."Hitsville UK" Jones, Ellen Foley4:20
3."Junco Partner"Bob Shad aka Robert Ellen 4:53
4."Ivan Meets G.I. Joe" Topper Headon3:05
5."The Leader"  1:41
6."Something About England" Jones, Strummer3:42
Total length:23:09
Side two
No.TitleWriter(s)Lead vocalsLength
1."Rebel Waltz"  3:25
2."Look Here"Mose AllisonThe Clash, Mikey Dread2:44
3."The Crooked Beat" Paul Simonon5:29
4."Somebody Got Murdered" Jones3:34
5."One More Time"The Clash, Mikey Dread 3:32
6."One More Dub" (dub version of "One More Time")The Clash, DreadInstrumental3:34
Total length:22:18
Side three
No.TitleWriter(s)Lead vocalsLength
1."Lightning Strikes (Not Once but Twice)"  4:51
2."Up in Heaven (Not Only Here)"The Clash, Phil OchsJones4:31
3."Corner Soul"  2:43
4."Let's Go Crazy"  4:25
5."If Music Could Talk"The Clash, Dread 4:36
6."The Sound of Sinners"  4:00
Total length:25:06
Side four
No.TitleWriter(s)Lead vocalsLength
1."Police on My Back"Eddy Grant; originally performed by the EqualsJones3:15
2."Midnight Log"  2:11
3."The Equaliser"  5:47
4."The Call Up"  5:25
5."Washington Bullets"  3:51
6."Broadway" (features an epilogue of "The Guns of Brixton" sung by Maria Gallagher)  5:45
Total length:26:14
Side five
No.TitleWriter(s)Lead vocalsLength
1."Lose This Skin"Tymon DoggTymon Dogg5:07
2."Charlie Don't Surf" Strummer, Jones4:55
3."Mensforth Hill" ("Something About England" backwards with overdubs) Instrumental3:42
4."Junkie Slip"  2:48
5."Kingston Advice" Strummer, Jones2:36
6."The Street Parade"  3:26
Total length:22:34
Side six
No.TitleWriter(s)Lead vocalsLength
1."Version City" Jones and Strummer4:23
2."Living in Fame" (dub version of "If Music Could Talk")The Clash, DreadDread4:36
3."Silicone on Sapphire" (dub version of "Washington Bullets")  4:32
4."Version Pardner" (dub version of "Junco Partner")  5:22
5."Career Opportunities" (Re-recorded version sung by as credited) Luke Gallagher, Ben Gallagher2:30
6."Shepherds Delight" (dub version of “Police & Thieves”) Instrumental3:25
Total length:24:48 (144:09)


The Clash[edit]

  • Joe Strummer – lead and backing vocals, guitar, keyboards
  • Mick Jones – guitar, keyboards, lead and backing vocals
  • Paul Simonon – bass guitar, backing vocals, lead vocals on "The Crooked Beat"
  • Topper Headon – drums, lead vocals on "Ivan Meets G.I. Joe" and backing vocals in "The Sound of Sinners"

Additional musicians[edit]

  • Tymon Dogg (credited as 'Timon Dogg') – vocals and violin on "Lose This Skin", violin on "Lightning Strikes (Not Once but Twice)", "Something About England", "Mensforth Hill", "Junco Partner" and "The Equaliser", keyboard on "The Sound of Sinners"
  • Mickey Gallagher (Blockheads) – keyboards
  • Norman Watt-Roy (Blockheads) – bass guitar on "The Magnificent Seven", "Hitsville UK", "One More Time", "Look Here", "Something About England", "The Call Up", "Lose This Skin", "Charlie Don't Surf", and "Lightning Strikes (Not Once but Twice)"
  • J.P. Nicholson - bass guitar
  • Ellen Foley – co-lead vocal on "Hitsville U.K.", backing vocals on "Corner Soul" and "Washington Bullets"
  • Davey Payne (Blockheads) – saxophone on "Ivan Meets G.I. Joe", "Something About England", "The Crooked Beat", "If Music Could Talk", "Lose This Skin" and "Mensforth Hill"
  • Rick Gascoigne – trombone on "Ivan Meets G.I. Joe", "Something About England", "Lose This Skin", "Mensforth Hill" and "The Street Parade"
  • Band Sgt. Dave Yates – drill sergeant on "The Call Up"
  • Den Hegarty (Darts) – vocals on "The Sound of Sinners"
  • Luke & Ben Gallagher – vocals on "Career Opportunities"
  • Maria Gallagher – coda vocals on "Broadway" (singing "The Guns of Brixton")
  • Gary Barnacle – saxophone on "Ivan Meets G.I. Joe", "Something About England", "The Crooked Beat", "Lose This Skin", "Mensforth Hill" and "The Street Parade"
  • Arthur Edward "Bill" Barnacle (Gary's father) – trumpet on "Ivan Meets G.I. Joe", "Something About England", "Lose This Skin" and "The Street Parade"
  • Jody Linscott – percussion
  • Ivan Julian (Voidoids) – guitar on "The Call Up"
  • Noel "Tempo" Bailey (aka Sowell, reggae artist/session man) – guitar
  • Anthony Nelson Steelie (Wycliffe Johnson of Steely and Clevie) – keyboards
  • Lew Lewis (Eddie and the Hot Rods) – harmonica on "Junco Partner", "Look Here", "Corner Soul", "Midnight Log", "The Equaliser", "Version City" and "Version Pardner"
  • Gerald Baxter-Warman
  • Terry McQuade (had a small role in Rude Boy)
  • Rudolph Adolphus Jordan
  • Battersea (Topper Headon's dog) – barking on "Somebody Got Murdered"
  • Mikey Dread – vocals on "The Crooked Beat", "One More Time", "Living in Fame" and "Look Here"
  • Style Scott – drums on "Junco Partner" and "Version Pardner"



1980 weekly chart performance
Chart (1980) Peak
Australian (Kent Music Report)[39] 36
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[40] 3
Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)[41] 8
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[42] 9
UK Albums (OCC)[43] 19
1981 weekly chart performance
Chart (1981) Peak
US Billboard Pop Albums[44] 24
Canadian Albums (RPM)[45] 3


Sales certifications for Sandinista!
Region Certification Certified units/sales
France (SNEP)[46] Gold 100,000*
United States (RIAA)[47] Gold 500,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[48] Gold 100,000^

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


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  2. ^ Hegarty, Paul; Halliwell, Martin (2011). Beyond and Before: Progressive Rock since the 1960s. Bloomsbury Publishing USA. p. 171. Metal Box, like the Clash's triple album Sandinista ! (1980), is an attempt at post-punk fusion.
  3. ^ Rowley, Scott (15 September 2016). "The 48-minute long classic album hidden inside The Clash's Sandinista!". TeamRock. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
  4. ^ Roffman, Michael (11 July 2008). "Rock History 101: The Clash's "Washington Bullets"". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
  5. ^ a b c Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Sandinista! – The Clash". AllMusic. Retrieved 10 September 2015.
  6. ^ a b Pitchfork Staff (10 September 2018). "The 200 Best Albums of the 1980s". Pitchfork. Retrieved 24 April 2023. On their fourth album, the Clash combined their passion for global politics with an embrace of world music...turning Sandinista! into an experimental, triple-album behemoth that melded punk's urgency with reggae's bent...
  7. ^ 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 0-7389-0082-6. OCLC 49798077.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h 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 1-84513-113-4. OCLC 61177239.
  9. ^ a b c Levy, Joe; Steven Van Zandt (2006) [2005]. Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (3rd ed.). London: Turnaround. ISBN 1-932958-61-4. OCLC 70672814.
    Related news articles:
  10. ^ a b c Interviewer: Unknown; Presenter: Kurt Loder. "MTV Rockumentary". MTV Rockumentary. London, England. MTV.
    Related news articles:
  11. ^ a b c d Deeth, John. "Turning Rebellion into Money: The Story of the Clash". Archived from the original on 24 January 2007. Retrieved 18 February 2008.
  12. ^ Jaffee, Larry. "The Politics of Rock". Popular Music and Society, Winter 1987, pp. 19–30.
  13. ^ "Best Albums of the 1980s". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 13 August 2012.
  14. ^ Hall, Peter. "The Year of the Clash" Rolling Stone 19 August 1982
  15. ^ Mojo Magazine, Sept 2020, Pat Gilbert, pg.53-54
  16. ^ Hewitt, Paolo. "The Clash: Joe Strummer Answers The Call-Up" Melody Maker 13 December 1980
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  21. ^ Considine, J. D. (27 January 2000). "Nobody's scoffing now at the importance of the Clash". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 10 November 2020.
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  23. ^ "The Clash: Sandinista!". Q. No. 159. London. December 1999. pp. 152–53.
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  25. ^ "Clash Reissues". Select. No. 114. London. December 1999. p. 88.
  26. ^ Sheffield, Rob (1995). "Clash". In Weisbard, Eric; Marks, Craig (eds.). Spin Alternative Record Guide. Vintage Books. pp. 84–85. ISBN 0-679-75574-8.
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  31. ^ Marsh, Dave (1999) [1989]. The Heart of Rock and Soul: The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made. New York: Da Capo Press. p. 78. ISBN 0-306-80901-X. OCLC 40200194.
  32. ^ "10 Essential Political-Revolution Albums". Alternative Press. No. 148. Cleveland. November 2000. p. 144.
  33. ^ "The 200 Best Albums of the 1980s". Pitchfork. 10 September 2018. p. 3. Retrieved 15 April 2020.
  34. ^ "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. New York. 22 September 2020. Retrieved 10 November 2020.
  35. ^ Clash, The; Joe Grushecky; Katrina Leskanich; Willie Nile; Ship & Pilot.; Soul Food (Musical group); Sunset Heroes (21 September 2004). The Sandinista! Project A Tribute to the Clash (Compact Disc). England: 00:02:59 Records. OCLC 178980813.
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  37. ^ "Cary Baker's conqueroo - The Sandinista! Project Announcements". Retrieved 20 February 2008.
  38. ^ a b Retamal, Felipe (21 December 2019). ""Son hermosos ruidos": Los Prisioneros en el origen del punk chileno". La Tercera (in Spanish). Retrieved 22 January 2022.
  39. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 65. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
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  45. ^ "Top Albums/CDs - Volume 34, No. 15, March 21, 1981". RPM. Archived from the original on 7 January 2016. Retrieved 17 February 2012.
  46. ^ "French album certifications – The Clash – Sandinista!" (in French). InfoDisc. Retrieved 12 February 2022. Select THE CLASH and click OK. 
  47. ^ "American album certifications – The Clash – Sandinista!". Recording Industry Association of America. 20 April 1999.
  48. ^ "British album certifications – The Clash – Sandinista!". British Phonographic Industry. 22 July 2013.Select albums in the Format field. Select Gold in the Certification field. Type Sandinista! in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]