Certain Songs #231: The Clash – “The Sound of The Sinners”

The_Clash_-_Sandinista! Album: Sandinista!
Year: 1980.

Closing out side three of Sandinista! with a great joyous blast of gospel music, “The Sound of The Sinners” just might be the most fun Joe Strummer ever had on record.

Sure, it’s all a bit tongue-in-cheek, but if you think about it, who better than to do a gospel song than Saint Joe Strummer?

Strummer was a natural preacher anyways, so “The Sound of The Sinners” played to his strengths as it blasted off with:

As the floods of God
Wash away sin city
They say it was written
In the page of the Lord
But I was looking
For that great jazz note
That destroyed
The walls of Jericho

“That great jazz note that destroyed the walls of Jericho” is easily one of my favorite Strummer jokes. Because of course it was a jazz note, what else could it be? In fact, I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that jazz note was eventually found on “A Love Supreme” by St. John Coltrane.

As his gospel choir chants “Judgement Day” over and over again, Joe has a confession to make:

After all this time
To believe in Jesus
After all those drugs
I thought I was Him
After all my lying
And a-crying
And my suffering
I ain’t good enough
I ain’t clean enough
To be Him

And you wonder: is he sincere? Is he playing a character? And does it even matter with a song this catchy and fun? The answer, as always, is the last. And also, note that we are now 18 songs into Sandinista!, and The Clash aren’t just finding new styles in which to play for the the album, but they’re still stretching the definition of what a Clash song could even be.

Fan-made video for “The Sound of The Sinners”

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