A triple album for the price of a single, The Clash’s fourth album is a sprawling, genre-defying, self-indulgent snapshot of a band run wild. Emboldened by the success of London Calling, free of manager Bernie Rhodes, and stoned out of their fucking minds, The Clash delivered an album seemingly tailor-made to piss off CBS and confuse the more conservative elements of their fanbase (“You want punk rock? Try this, sunshine!”). And that was a major problem in 1980 – when these islands echoed with the sound of fans lifting and dropping the needle across all six sides looking for a Safe European Home, Janie Jones or even a Rudie Can’t Fail and asking themselves one single question: “Seriously: what the fuck are The Clash anymore?”
Even today it’s understandable. The cliche/true-ism about any double album is that it’d make a great single album – Sandinista! surely stands alone as a triple album you could also edit into a really shit double. But as two sides of vinyl it would’ve done alright: The Magnificent Seven, Police On My Back, Washington Bullets, The Street Parade, If Music Could Talk, Something About England and One More Time alone could have provided the spine of an album that touched on funk, punk, calypso, rock, reggae and rap and would be talked about in hushed tones today.