Big Audio Dynamite: This is Big Audio Dynamite

bad_this_is_badBig Audio Dynamite
This is Big Audio Dynamite
(Sony Legacy)

I love, love, love this album and have since it was originally released in 1985. For those in the dark, Big Audio Dynamite (B.A.D.) was the first project from Mick Jones after he was kicked out of The Clash in 1983 by Joe Strummer and Paul Simonon. He quickly rebounded, recruited DJ and videographer Don Letts and three other hotshots and debuted B.A.D. less than a year later. There was an immediate buzz about the band and their first album was highly anticipated. It delivered the goods, offering up an accessible blend of rock, hip-hop, punk and dance music fused with interesting and infectious samples from gangster movies and spaghetti westerns.

At the time, there was a deeper significance to This is Big Audio Dynamite. It showcased Jones’ talent not only as a singer and songwriter, but also as a frontman. Jones more than carried his weight in The Clash, providing grooves and melodies for Strummer’s politically-charged lyrics. On occasion, he stepped into the spotlight. With his expulsion, much like Atlas being condemned to stand at the western edge of Gaia and hold up Ouranos, Jones’ success and the success of this band lay directly on his shoulders. Don’t misunderstand, it’s generally agreed that there was not a lot of bad blood between Jones and Strummer/Simonon following his firing. All involved have acknowledged the reasons for the event and (seemingly/mostly) agree that it was a necessary evil. Still, they remained in communication and supportive of their respective projects. As is evident by Strummer and Simonon having appeared as police officers in B.A.D.’s video for “Medicine Show,” featured on this album. In addition, Strummer co-wrote many of the songs on B.A.D.’s follow up No. 10 Upping Street and co-produced that very album (which many interpreted as a reconciliation, fostering the belief that a reunited Clash was eminent). Later, Simonon painted the artwork for the cover of B.A.D.’s third album Tighten Up, Volume 88.

Finally, the good folks at CBS have rediscovered B.A.D.’s debut album and gave it their “Legacy” treatment. The double disc reissue features a remastered version of the original album on the first disc and a collection of b-sides, unreleased tracks and 12-inch mixes on the second disc. As I understand it, Don Letts played a significant role in the final track selection … and, if so, he did a great job. The 12-song bonus disc contains remixes and alternative versions of the original 8-track album, in addition to four hard-to-find nuggets.

The album has never sounded better. The remaster is pristine. The bonus CD is a valuable addition to a fan’s music collection. I would have purchased it as a stand alone release. You can’t go wrong with this collection. Enjoy it and cross your fingers that CBS will treat us all to a reissue of No. 10 Upping Street.