Punk,  Rock

The Sandinista! Project

If London Calling was the Clash’s masterpiece, Sandinista! – a three-LP, multi-genre assault on the senses (and the follow-up to London Calling) – was its stoned out red-headed stepchild. Thirty-six songs strong, Sandinista! was their chance to completely let loose and record whatever it is they felt like recording. I like the way The All Music Guide review puts it…

The Clash sounded like they could do anything on London Calling. For its triple-album follow-up, Sandinista!, they tried to do everything, adding dub, rap, gospel, and even children’s choruses to the punk, reggae, R&B, and roots rock they already were playing…

As loose and scattered as it is, there are some killer tracks on the album: “The Magnificent Seven”, “The Call Up”, “The Leader”, and Eddy “Electric Avenue” Grant’s “Police On My Back”.

So music journalist Jimmy Guterman had a vision as a Clash fan: a tribute album. What he pulled together with The Sandinista! Project is pretty damn impressive. There are some well known names involved: The Smithereens, Camper Van Beethoven, Jason Ringenberg (Jason & the Scorchers), Katrina Leskanich (Katrina & the Waves), Matthew Ryan, Wille Nile, and the Mekons’ Jon Langford (who also designed the album cover).

Many of the artists I had not heard of: Sex Clark Five (great name!), The Hyphens, Haale, the Coal Porters, and many more. So I thought I would share a couple from the tribute album, paired with the Clash originals.

Two of my favorites from the album are “The Call Up” and “The Leader”. On the tribute, theremin – yes theremin – ensemble The Lothars take on “The Call Up”. This would fall under the category of totally and completely devoid of resembling the original. But there’s something very strange and alien about it that pulls me in. You want originality? Here you go…

The LotharsThe Call Up (mp3)

The ClashThe Call Up (mp3)

On Sandinista!, The Clash pack a whole lot of rock, urgency, and great lyrics into the minute and forty-one seconds of “The Leader”. Amy Rigby offers up a respectable version true to the original. Though there’s something about her “on a Sundayyy…” lyric that I’d like to tweak, but nice overall…

Amy RigbyThe Leader (mp3)

The ClashThe Leader (mp3)

I can’t really say that someone not familiar with Sandinista! and the Clash would really “get” or appreciate this tribute. But if you’re a Clash-ophile who worships at the altar of Strummer, as I am, you should hear this album. And if you’re new to both, why not pick up both?

I recommend getting the CD itself just for the DIY punk packaging. It’s very well done, and includes a booklet put together by Guterman called “2007 – The Armagideon Times Update.”

Buy The Sandinista! Project on Amazon.

Check out Jimmy Guterman’s blog / site devoted to the project. Included on the sidebar are PDF’s of the CD booklet and the packaging.

Buy The Clash’s Sandinista!


  • 256

    Holy hell!

    The Call Up is one of my favorite Clash tracks ever & I’ve only ever heard one other track by The Lothars, which I stumbled upon somehow while looking for tracks off the Repo Man soundtrack. This is a mindblowing cover. Truly weird.

    Keep up the good work.

  • j. miller

    The Sandinista Project is excellent. There are quite a few oddities in the lineup. You would like Sex Clark Five. They’ve been around for ages and have only achieved a cult status in the U.S. despite being from Alabama. A.C. Newman nominated them as an unsung hero in GQ Magazine.

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