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This Is Big Audio Dynamite

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Album Review

Elbowed out of the Clash, Mick Jones responded forcefully with Big Audio Dynamite, a modernist audio-terrorist outfit whose 1985 debut, This Is Big Audio Dynamite, seemed all the more futuristic when compared to Joe Strummer’s reductionist retro rejiggering of the Clash on Cut the Crap. Strummer may have been intent on shedding every experimental element of the Clash’s prime, but Jones, in collaboration with longtime friend filmmaker Don Letts, picked up where Sandinista! left off, anchoring BAD in dance and rap, building the group’s debut on layers of samples and drum machines. As is often the case, what was once forward-looking seems inextricably tied to its time in retrospect and the clanking electro rhythms, Sergio Leone samples, chicken-scratch guitars, bleating synths, and six-minute songs of This Is Big Audio Dynamite evoke 1985 in a way few other records do. Nevertheless, BAD’s boldness remains impressive, even visionary, pointing toward the cut-n-paste masterpieces of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, and since Jones did not abandon his innate gift for hooks — if anything, he found ways to create rhythmic hooks as well as melodic ones — it’s quite accessible for an album that is, at its core, avant-rock. [Legacy’s 2010 double-disc expansion of This Is Big Audio Dynamite remasters the original eight-track LP and adds a second 12-track CD. Befitting BAD’s futuristic dance bent, almost all of these are 12" remixes of the album’s singles — “Medicine Show,” “E=MC2,” and “The Bottom Line” — including no less than four previously unreleased mixes — and there’s also the outtake “Electric Vandal,” plus the B-sides “Albert Einstein Meets the Human Beatbox” and “This is Big Audio Dynamite,” with every last one of these 12 songs extending the modernist sampledelia of the album proper.]


Formed: 1984 in London, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '10s

After Mick Jones was fired from the Clash in 1983, he formed Big Audio Dynamite (B.A.D.) one year later to continue the more experimental funk elements of the Clash's Combat Rock. The group's original incarnation included Jones, video artist and Clash associate Don Letts (effects and vocals), Greg Roberts (drums), Dan Donovan (keyboards), and Leo "E-Zee Kill" Williams (bass). Adding samplers, dance tracks, and found sounds to Jones' concise pop songwriting, B.A.D. debuted on record with the single...
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This Is Big Audio Dynamite, Big Audio Dynamite
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