Big Audio Dynamite: This Is Big Audio Dynamite (Legacy Edition)

RIYL: Public Image Ltd., Primal Scream, The Clash

Big Audio Dynamite are kind of a “lost” bands of the ’80s. Sure, you may still hear “The Globe” a cut from the band’s second incarnation Big Audio Dynamite II, on retro playlists, but aside from that they’ve all but vanished from the pop culture lexicon, not that they were that big a presence on it to begin with. The band’s measured success remains befuddling when you consider it was Mick Jones’ baby, the group he put together after getting fired from the Clash in 1983.


Hopefully this new Legacy Edition re-issue of the group’s 1985 debut will open the band up for re-evaluation. The importance of This Is Big Audio Dynamite has faded over time, but when it came out it was a technological wonder, the first rock record to embrace the sampling movement of rap music and take it to a direction never heard before. While singles like “E=MC²” and “The Bottom Line” may seem a little quaint now, they were revolutionary at the time in how the took samples from movies and other sources and seamlessly incorporated them into the music. It’s a style you saw resurface just a few years later in bands like Massive Attack and Portishead. Ahead of their time back then, it now sounds dated in the most charming of ways.

The bonus disc is what makes this re-issue really worthwhile though, because while the album versions of their singles were always good, the 12” remixes was where the band really shined. Making the package an even sweeter deal are excellent b-sides such as “Electric Vandal” and the forgotten title track, which is a condensed amalgamation of nearly every sample that appeared on the album. Even the goofier bonuses, such as the vocoder version of “BAD” and the beyond-silly “Albert Einstein Meets the Human Beatbox” are welcome time capsules of a bygone era where stuff like this was groundbreaking and cutting-edge. A must-buy for fans of the band as well as fans of dance-punk who want to see where it all started. (Columbia 2010)


Foreigner: Can’t Slow Down

RIYL: Boston, REO Speedwagon, Survivor

Mick Jones recorded without Lou Gramm once before on 1991’s Unusual Heat. Now with the seemingly permanent departure (although in the world of sports, music and professional wrestling, never say never), Foreigner has released Can’t Slow Down, exclusively through Wal-Mart. Kelly Hansen, formerly with Hurricane, fills the large shoes of Lou Gramm rather admirably with a sincere and effective effort on the new material. Interestingly enough, Hansen, although without the same depth and power as Gramm, has a very similar voice and pulls off the classic foreigner stuff very well. The three-disc collection includes the new album, a collection of remixed classics and a concert DVD of this line-up performing the hits. The new material like the title track and “In Pieces” will fit in well within the catalog. Formulaic as it may be, complete with the big production of veteran Rock Producer Marti Frederiksen, it is full of hooks and incredibly well executed. Jones is not appreciated enough for his ability to write crunchy but catchy rock tunes. Can’t Slow Down features a couple of ballads, as Foreigner records are required to by law, to do and they are decent. The remixes take the old material and tweak them to where the audiophile will only be able to tell (they are the originals and not re-recorded by this line-up). The concert DVD is a blast, and to see the 60+ year old Jones lead his band through the classics with energy and great guitar chops, is a pleasant surprise. Watching him sing lead on “Starrider” is a gas. (Foreigner 2009)

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