174. Broadway

“Have I raved enough yet about Sandinista, the vast and multifaceted Clash album that doesn’t generally end up on Best Of All  Time Lists? London Calling being the one that tends to get all the glory. Which it deserves, of course, but I would submit that sometimes more really is MORE when it comes to art, beauty, meaning, rebellion everything. Which, in Sandinista‘s case means thirty-six tracks spread across six sides of vinyl, enough to drown in if necessary. And maybe it is. Necessary. Because Sandinista is the greatest band in the world (at the time) firing all of their guns at once and hitting way more often than they miss. Broadway shows up at the end of Side Four. A slice of Beat-like poetry that may start out weary and down for the count. But never count this band out. Ever. Not in 1980-81 anyway.” (Philip Random)

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(image source)

 

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293. Spanish Bombs

“I liked Spanish Bombs from first listen, which would’ve been summer, 1980, bombing around suburbia in co-worker Gregory’s hot rod, London Calling being the only album I ever remember him playing. It was that kind of album. Still is, I guess. But Spanish Bombs wouldn’t truly land with me until about ten years later, a beach, a bonfire. Some girl I’d never met before grabbed an acoustic guitar and nailed it, nailed me. It was love at first sight, first chorus. Sort of. Because I’ve never seen her since. Except sometimes when Spanish Bombs comes on, like a ghost, I guess, lost in some mythical Andalusia.” (Philip Random)

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321. Charlie Don’t Surf

“Come 1980, The Clash really had nothing left to prove to anyone, having delivered perhaps the greatest rock and roll album of all time in the waning days of 1979, the four-sided monster known as London Calling. So what to do next except everything, which gave us the six-sided mega-monster Sandinista. Charlie Don’t Surf shows up well into things, a song that takes a line from Apocalypse Now and extrapolates from there, all distant helicopters and dreamy if discordant keyboards. A friend of mine heard it once at a bar in Jamaica and it worked so well it didn’t even register until a few hours later that The Clash’s take on reggae had made it to a Jamaican mixtape! Were they really that good? Apparently so.” (Philip Random)

397. lost in the supermarket

“This one came our way in 1979 (c/o London Calling, arguably the greatest album of any and all time), but it never had more currency for me than the summer of 1984. We dropped a lot of LSD that summer, in our mid-twenties by then. Old enough to know better, of course, or maybe just go further, higher, deeper through the absurdities of the ever corroding western world whose edges and holes and voids we felt compelled to explore. This meant going public with acid in our veins, taking it to malls, video arcades, strip joints, crowded downtown streets, fair grounds, everywhere, every weird and ugly thing. Getting lost in the supermarket, we called it.” (Philip Random)

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500. guns of Brixton

“More than any other track, I’m thinking Guns of Brixton is what hooked me to the Clash. Because as much as I’d enjoyed their punk and powerful raving and drooling, this was obviously something else. Reggae, I guess, but not really. Because there’s way more going on here than just some white people ripping off Jamaican sounds, making it all sound like tourist music. Nah, Guns of Brixton is dangerous. What do you do when the cops bust in?” (Philip Random)

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609. Rudy can’t fail

“It took me a while to properly discover Rudy Can’t Fail – probably because I wasn’t playing side one of London Calling that much. Because I’d already heard the lead off title track a pile by the time I actually owned it. And it’s not as if there was anything lacking on the other four sides, The Clash being at the absolute peak of their attainments. Anyway, a summer day, 1984 I think, a mostly empty beach on one of the local islands, me and a few friends and a ghetto blaster. All of us rich kids (sort of), none of us remotely rich, all of us at that point in our lives where we were having to start think seriously about our futures, our careers. Go to law school. Go to business school. Get into real estate. Get a job at a bank. Do whatever our dads did. We were smoking a little dope, drinking a few beers, and suddenly Rudy came on care of the current mixtape, and it was exactly what my universe needed. Something to do with freedom and art having a way better groove than f***ing economics. It’s been on the personal playlist ever since. And I never did find a career.” (Philip Random)

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739. the card cheat

“Second of two in a row from London Calling, arguably the greatest rock and roll album ever. Released at the very end of the 1970s which definitely makes it the first indispensably great rock and roll album for the 1980s, because none of it was looking back. Commercial radio, of course, only played two tracks but all four sides were nigh on brilliant – the power and rage of full-on punk tempered only enough to allow everything else to burst on through. With The Card Cheat, that meant widescreen rock all brassed up and gunning for the promised land, which is again miles beyond anything Bruce Springsteen could have hoped for at the time, who I’m only mentioning here because his 1980 double album The River had no problem getting played all over the radio. And it was at least two sides too long.” (Philip Random)

(photo: Joyce Weir)

740. brand new Cadillac

“Is there a bad track on London Calling? Is there an average track on London Calling? Brand New Cadillac is neither, of course. Brand New Cadillac is The Clash tearing through an old Vince Taylor b-side, unleashing the kind of old school rock and roll fervor that Bruce Springsteen could only dream of.” (Philip Random)

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984. Kingston advice

First of two in a row from side five of Sandinista, the Clash’s largest album if not its best. London Calling gets all the glory, of course, but there is a serious argument to be made that Sandinista is every bit its equal if only for all the tangents it explores – dubs, re-dubs, versions, visions. As if these four guys (and their various studio compadres) somehow managed to digest the whole weird, wild, primed-to-explode world of 1980 and jam it into six long playing sides of vinyl – not world music so much as what the world actually sounded like. Must be a clash – there’s no alternative.

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