I’ve not really posted much on Big Audio Dynamite over the years on the basis that I’m more an admirer than a fan. There has been the occasional song that I’ve had a soft spot for, with one of my favourites being found on No.10 Upping Street. This was the album released in 1987 that, pre-release, caused much excitement with the news that Joe Strummer and Mick Jones had reunited to pen some songs and were co-producing the new record. I was a tad disappointed with the results, probably as my expectations were far too high, especially for the tunes that had Strummer’s name in the credits, and as it turned out, the song which stayed with me most was the work of Mick Jones and Don Letts:-

mp3: Big Audio Dynamite – Hollywood Boulevard

The lockdown period, combined with my retiral from work, led to me going into the storage box which is packed with cassettes, many of them specially compiled by Jacques the Kipper (and there’s a two-part series around that early next week), during which I came across a C90 with writing that I didn’t recognise and a bundle of songs from singers/bands that I’d normally go on a 20-miles cross country run in the snow to avoid. It’s then I remembered it was the work of a bloke called Tim, the on-off boyfriend of one of my flatmates, Wendy, and he’d given me the tape specifically as I had freaked over one track.

Incidentally, I’ll digress briefly for a second to say a little bit more about Wendy. She was Canadian and a stunning looking girl who worked as an air stewardess for KLM on the daily run between Edinburgh and Amsterdam. She was also, as my brother SC can testify, an absolute psycho and nutjob who once pulled a knife on him on the grounds that the flirting she had been encouraging was now boring her. I haven’t seen or heard from Wendy since 1987 when the lease for the flat came to an end and we all went our separate ways.

The tape had a remix of the BAD song that I was fond of and just the other week I tracked down the 12″ single on which it had been put on the b-side:-

mp3: Big Audio Dynamite – Hollywood Boulevard (club mix)

I’ve always felt there was a hint of New Order to the tune, but this mix with around two extra minutes of music and lots more instrumentation really demonstrates where I was coming from.

I was delighted to find a further, even longer and even funkier version on the single that got me thinking of Confusion:-

mp3: Big Audio Dynamite – Hollywood Boulevard (dub mix)

And, for completeness sake, here’s the A-side, itself a very extended remix, almost ten minutes long, of the opening track on Side 2 of the parent album:-

mp3: Big Audio Dynamite – V-Thirteen (extended remix)

Not a bad way to kick start the week, even if I say so myself (which would have been the case if I hadn’t held this post back by 48 hours to muse over the name of a Primal Scream EP!!)





Big Audio Dynamite are one of my favourite bands- pioneering, imaginative, forward thinking but always remembering that the song is the thing. B.A.D. formed after Mick Jones got kicked out of The Clash. Even though he made up with Joe Strummer and Paul Simonon pretty quickly and Joe realised that the Clash didn’t work without him Mick was already well away with B.A.D.

Hooking up with London face and filmake Don Letts, keyboard man (and husband of Patsy Kensit) Dan Donovan,  bassist Leo ‘E-Zee Kill’ Williams and drummer Greg Roberts, Mick saw the new group as a chance to prove Joe and Paul wrong and there’s no doubt about who had the best post-Clash 80s. B.A.D.’s back catalogue is chock full of genre-busting, sampledelic, pioneering stuff but also fully loaded with tunes. Mick’s lyric writing is superb, witty, wide ranging and warm, as is their use of technology and their wider influences – hip hop, reggae, house, spaghetti westerns and British films. Some of it has dated, like the white jeans, baseball caps and Dalek guitar, but there’s more than enough to put together a worthy ten track imaginary compilation. As I shall suggest here….

Sit Tight And Listen Keenly While I Play For You A Brand New Musical Biscuit

1. Medicine Show.

Opening song off the 1986 debut album and a killer single too with a lovely FXed guitar riff, Mick rhymes his way through dozens of laugh out loud lines. The cowbell and drum machine pump along and the liberal use of sampled film dialogue (Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach and James Coburn among them) make this song worth every second of its six-and-a-half-minute length. Paul and Joe and John Lydon turn up for the video too.

2. V Thirteen.

Probably their single finest song, co-written and produced by Joe Strummer (Joe did this live in the late 80s).

3. The Battle of All Saints Road.

Revisiting the West London of Clash mythology, the stomping ground of rockers, dreads and rude boys. Musically it takes in Clancy Eccles’ Fire Corner and duelling banjos. From 1988’s Tighten Up Vol ’88.

4. E=MC2

Pop and then some- Nic Roeg’s films set to a hugely catchy song. You really don’t get this from anyone else.

5. C’Mon Every Beatbox.

The single to lead into album number two No. 10 Upping Street (‘home to an alternative funky Prime Minister’ apparently. Thanks Joe) this song has Mick and Don trading rapid fire lyric lines, buckets of samples, a guitar solo that apes Jimi Hendrix and Neneh Cherry strutting her stuff in the video.

6. I Turned Out A Punk.

After 1989’s Megatop Phoenix the original line up disintegrated. Don Letts, Greg Roberts and Leo Williams went off to form Dreadzone. Mick subsequently put together various different BADs (Big Audio Dynamite II, Big Audio). The ‘new’ BAD had several moments that I wanted to put in here but space won’t allow- The Globe is a cracking single, Rush is top stuff too, Mick proving yet again that he can rise from the ashes. I could make shouts for Innocent Child, Harrow Road and Can’t Wait as well. In 1996 F-Punk came out, a funny album marred by some iffy production and cardboard drums. I Turned Out A Punk shows Mick’s muse and signwriting remained intact. Two chord, fuzzed up, organ led augmented garage rock and Mick’s formative years collapsed into rhyming couplets.

7. Rewind.

I was going to include Contact, house music turned into a pop song, from Megatop Phoenix. I probably should but I don’t want this to be too singles dominated. Instead here’s another song from the same album, digital reggae influenced and sung by Don Letts.

8. Beyond the Pale.

Mick sings about his roots. Immigration as a positive force for the individual and society.

9. Other 99 Extended Mix.

Over guitars and electronics Mick sings the song of the 99%, of not making 10 out of 10 and how sometimes 5 is just fine. The band don’t settle for half marks though, turning in a cracking tune. The 12” extended mix adds several minutes more after the breakdown.

10. The Bottom Line.

That shuddering bass. The guitars. Cowbell. The horses are on the track. There’s a new dance that’s going around. Economic decline. Nagging questions always remain. Even the Soviets are swinging away. From the debut album and still fresh as a daisy. I’m gonna take you to…part two.

Bonus Track

Greg Dread (Roberts) recently put the band’s intro music onto his Soundcloud page. Built of two minutes of samples, beats and synths, it’s the fanfare that announced B.A.D.’s arrival onstage

B.A.D. Live Intro Tape

mp3 : Big Audio Dynamite – Medicine Show
mp3 : Big Audio Dynamite – V Thirteen
mp3 : Big Audio Dynamite – The Battle Of All Saints Road
mp3 : Big Audio Dynamite – E=MC2
mp3 : Big Audio Dynamite – C’Mon Every Beatbox
mp3 : Big Audio Dynamite – I Turned Out A Punk
mp3 : Big Audio Dynamite – Rewind
mp3 : Big Audio Dynamite – Beyond The Pale
mp3 : Big Audio Dynamite – Other 99 (extended mix)
mp3 : Big Audio Dynamite – The Bottom Line
mp3 : Live Intro Tape

JC adds : More great stuff every day from Swiss Adam can be found in the Bagging Area.