Sandinista! – The Clash (1980)

Sandinista! - The Clash (1980)

The common criticism of Sandinista! is that it would’ve been better pared down to a double or single album. The Clash’s best album is contained in here (check out Joe’s excellent rapping on The Magnificent Seven, or the breezy pop/protest song Washington Bullets – which turn the album’s title into something incredibly catchy) and even at its worst, it’s still really interesting. Most of the throwaway stuff is buried way deep on side 6, which consists largely of dub versions and remixes of earlier songs. Removing those weaker tracks may improve the overall quality, but then it wouldn’t be the same – the sprawl is part of the package! “I stand proud of it,” Joe Strummer once said of the album, “warts and all.”

Choice Cut: Police on My Back

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Let It Be – The Replacements (1984)

Let It Be - The Replacements (1984)

That rare album you listen to and know with utmost certainty is the real thing. The Replacements really grew up here, and the result was their first classic album, and one of the top five albums of the ’80s. It shows us that those high school years weren’t as bad as we make them out to be. And I Will Dare (which features Peter Buck of R.E.M.) and Favorite Thing (a song about how that special someone is your favorite thing) are so optimistic! Oh man, those were the…

Wait, hold on.

Unsatisfied

Sixteen Blue

Answering Machine

Choice Cut: I Will Dare
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London Calling – The Clash (1979)

London Calling - The Clash (1979)

Google search “greatest rock albums 70s” and London Calling is there. The Clash were on their third album so their musical prowess was already apparent. Then London Calling happened, the marker of musical maturity that it was. This album uses a multi-genre soup to attack political and social issues that still resonate today: police brutality, race relations, and good old teenage angst. There are nineteen tracks on this beast of an album and this album – a punk rock album, mind you – clocks in at over an hour. Yet there is not a single weak track.

Choice Cut: Train in Vain
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The Clash – The Clash (1977)

The Clash - The Clash (1977)

While the eclectic London Calling might be the band’s overall strongest release, even it can’t match this album’s immediacy and raw power. Every song here is a classic and define punk better than nothing but the Ramones’ debut album could. The band also deviates from the punk formula a lot here; the US version includes singles Clash City Rockers and Complete Control, which have decidedly multipart structures. Both of those and London’s Burning even feature very much anti-punk guitar solos. Good luck getting ANY of these songs out of your head after you’ve heard them once.

Choice Cut: (White Man) In Hammersmith Palais
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