The Sandinista! Project, produced by journalist Jimmy Guterman, is a two-CD, four-year urban renewal of the Clash’s three-LP, 36-track city of sound. Released in 1980 (when punk seemed as old as Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, but was rather less successful), the original
Sandinista! both addressed and was stressed out by the clash of identity and adaptability. Most of the various artists on TSP tap into the achievement and potential of this drive-and-be-driven undercurrent. For instance, the Mekons’ Jon Langford and Sally Timms get “Junco Partner” higher, lighter, and tighter than the Clash can, but the newer blue notes are sadder, too, with a beat even slyer and more streetwise than the Junco Partner himself.
More clearly than ever, these songs embody the risks and payoffs of conflict. On the new version of “One More Time/One More Dub,” ex-Voidoid Ivan Julian tilts galaxies of guitar through the rippling immersions of Iranian-American chanteuse Haale, as his bass drives notes almost deeper than feeling, though not without constant harassment from onetime Lounge Lizard Dougie Bowne’s drums. Julian also plays guitar on “The Call Up,” one of the strongest tracks on the original; here, retuned voices keen the song’s warnings to “young people down through the ages” even while theramins swoop like patrols of lost souls pressed into service through grinding post–Oil Age reggae beats. The Project only stumbles when it stays too close to the original versions—a crime you can’t accuse Wreckless Eric of as he rattles and wails, “Stepping out a rhythm that can take the tension on/Stepping in and out of that crooked, crooked beat.” Now I get it!