Mick Jones was sacked from The Clash after the US festival in 1983 due to his snooty behavior, heavy cocaine use and not following the ideals of the band (ie wanting to play around with hip-hop and dance music instead of Joe Strummer's return to "rebel rock"). After suing his former band mates (blocking their royalties for the Platinum selling Combat Rock) Mick Jones took the demos he was working on and met up with Don Letts (an old friend from The Clash punk days and filmmaker) and formed Big Audio Dynamite along with Dan Donovan, Leo Williams and Greg Roberts. Jones and Strummer competed against each other with their respective bands for records sales and punters. BAD first album "This is Big Audio Dynamite" would be out sold by The Clash's "Cut the Crap" initially but they would have the last laugh when the album would reach #27 on the charts and produce two top 40 singles.
Joe Strummer, after disbanding The Clash would co-produce and co-write Big Audio Dynamite's second album "No. 10 Upping Street". This would be the closest the two former band members would come to reuniting until their surprising on stage performance together in 2001. "No. 10 Upping Street" would be the band's break out album (and their best in my opinion) that charted on the UK pop charts at #11. BAD would support U2 on their 1987 world Tour making them a hit with the college crowd. "Tighten Up Vol. 88" soon followed as the band adapted to a more mainstream sound (the album charted at #33 in the UK charts) and a video directed by Jim Jarmusch. The next year would be a difficult one for the band. Mick Jones nearly dies from Chicken Pox and Pneumonia. During his long hospitalization, his vocal cords were damage due to the tubes that were inserted in his throat. The rest of his band mates grew restless and got Mick back into the studio to record the album "Megatop Phoenix". The disc was a form a therapy for Mick after his near death state. "Megatop Phoenix" would be the band's last top forty album release and the music critics gave it accolades for being the band's most artistic release. A few months later, Jones would disband BAD.
Big Audio Dynamite II was formed in 1991 with all new band member and a more college friendly alternative sound. The band would have a top forty hit with the song "Rush" (a double A side with the re-release of "Should I Stay or Should I Go"). The band would appear on the 120 Minutes tour and supported U2 on their ZooTV World Tour. Mick Jones would later try and combined the sounds of The Clash "lite" BAD II along with the original BAD and in 1994 would form a band called Big Audio. "Looking for A Song" would be the only single to chart from Big Audio's only release "Higher Power", the band's most pop sounding album to date. Despite the retooling of the band's name and sound, their move towards an even more mainstream sound failed to move records. "Higher Power" failed to break into the Top 100 and the band's label Columbia Records dropped them so after. Big Audio Dynamite was renamed and found a new label (Radioactive Records). Mick Jones and company tried to recapture the band's former magic but the new album failed to chart as well. Jones recorded new material with another new line-up of BAD but Radioactive Records refused to release it because of it's "noncommercial sound". Mick Jones would dissolve the band after releasing the music for free on the web.
Big Audio Dynamite was a unique band. They meshed together the sound of rock, hip-hop and reggae before they morphed into an alternative/college rock band. What made them a one-of-a-kind band also led to their downfall. BAD used a lot of samples from movies (Scarface, Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, Privilege & The Good, The Bad and The Ugly) very effectively in their music. When the original line-up was dismantled, BAD lost their edge and sound. I have to highly recommend their first four albums. Check them out, just play the music and enjoy!
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About the reviewer
Joseph Ulibas (Captain_Couth)
I have been working on my web series Fine Feather Friends.
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