A GUEST POSTING FROM SWISS ADAM
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.
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.
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.
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.