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Baker's Dozen

Escape To The Country: Willy Vlautin Of Richmond Fontaine's Favourite LPs
John Freeman , April 6th, 2016 09:55

Following the release of Richmond Fontaine's tenth and final album, You Can't Go Back If There Is Nothing To Go Back To, the singer and author talks to John Freeman about his favourite albums of storytelling escapism


The Clash – Sandinista!
I realise that not a lot of people would say this is their favourite record by The Clash. Most people would probably go for London Calling. Indeed, as a fan of the band, when I started listening to Sandinista!, I liked it but I put it aside. I was young. Then, when I was about 30, I started listening again and by that point, I had been in Fontaine for about seven years. As a musician, the thing I love about Sandinista! – a little bit like Feast Of Wire by Calexico – is the fearlessness.

The Clash are a band that are so passionate about different styles of music. Granted, some of the songs on Sandinista! aren't perfect but they are so open to ideas in different styles of music and they chase down every idea. As a musician, it opens your mind that you don't have to pigeonhole yourself. On a personal level, they taught me that it is okay to like this kind of music and that kind of music. It's okay to like ballads, it's okay to like dub music or reggae or cow punk rock. Their best message of all was to be fearless.

So, warts and all, I can say that Sandinista! is one of the most important Clash records, because it shows that they aren't just the punk rock fashionista guys, posing as tough guys. They are real musicians and really great songwriters who are exploring different kinds of music that was interesting to them, regardless of what people might think of them.

Plus, you cannot go fucking wrong with 'Charlie Don't Surf', 'The Magnificent Seven' or 'The Call Up'. I always loved them for taking on big political issues. When I didn't know anything about anything, I was fascinated when The Clash would get on their soapboxes. Whether they were right or wrong, it made me think about the issues. To begin with, I didn't even know what 'Sandinista' was. They taught me a ton on so many different levels. I always think of The Clash as the greatest band of all time and Sandinista! shows they were fearless and had a sense of adventure. It's the perfect, fucked up, non-perfect record.