Sandinista Turns 40

Self-indulgent mess?  Misunderstood masterpiece?  I usually have an opinion on matters musical, but it’s now been forty years and I’m still not sure what to make of this album.  Which may be the point.  Or not.

7 Replies to “Sandinista Turns 40”

  1. Like the White Album, there are enough good songs for a very good or maybe even a great single album. But even the stuff that isn’t very good is often at least interesting for a while. So I have a hard time writing off this album. It’s like a ballsy, failed experiment, which I can’t help but respect. Something about the boundlessness of it is impressive.

    Reviewing it at the time of release, Robert Christgau wrote that he felt it was their worst album yet (he gave it an A-), but also that if this was their worst, then surely they were the greatest band in the world. And from ’79 -’82, they were. None but the greatest are allowed to release such an album without committing career suicide.

    Even the album’s goofiest moment, the remake of “Career Opportunies,” has something interesting: that baroque-pop harpsichord acually works, at least to my twisted mind.

    1. Okay, it’s a slow day and I just partook of a Sandinista! sampler to refresh my memory. There’s a lot thrown at the wall here but not enough hooks to make it worth the listen. To my ears this album sounds like extreme hubris, recorded by men with MASSIVE egos who think they can do no wrong.

  2. Well, all “big” albums are an act of hubris, and there are some good hooks here and there. And many of the hookless funk reaggae tracks are entertaining. But the album is more about expansiveness than hooks. I find that the best way to hear it is to let it play through rather than sample. In a way I’m playing devil’s advocate here. I don’t think it’s a great album, but I also can’t dismiss it. There’s something to it.

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