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)


Specifics on The Clash’s London Calling 30th anniversary edition release

As a high school kid knee-deep in punk albums, listening to The Clash’s London Calling was a revelation. Here was a record that felt raw, but was genuinely built around infectious melodies and catchy vocals. The album felt old, yet fresh, and was instantly endearing. This was a band hellbent on having fun. For as serious as I took music at the time, I forget about my manufactured ideals when I spent time with London Calling.

Some of you might own the reissue commemorating the album’s 25th anniversary. Well, I’m sorry, but London Calling: 30th Anniversary Legacy Edition is on its way.

Available December 14th, the compilation will include a remastered version of the 1979 classic as well as Don Letts’ documentary The Last Testament: The Making of London Calling, three music videos, and home-movie footage of the band. The package will also include a new 20-page booklet and vinyl “replica” sleeves to match the original version of the album. So, perhaps it’s actually worth checking out.

London Calling: 30th Anniversary Legacy Edition Tracklist:
Disc One:
01. London Calling
02. Brand New Cadillac
03. Jimmy Jazz
04. Hateful
05. Rudie Can’t Fail
06. Spanish Bombs
07. The Right Profile
08. Lost In The Supermarket
09. Clampdown
10. The Guns Of Brixton
11. Wrong ‘Em Boyo
12. Death Or Glory
13. Koka Kola
14. The Card Cheat
15. Lover’s Rock
16. Four Horsemen
17. I’m Not Down
18. Revolution Rock
19. Train In Vain

Disc Two:
The Last Testament: The Making of London Calling
“London Calling” music video
“Train in Vain” music video
“Clampdown” music video
Home video footage of The Clash recording in Wessex Studios

Hopefully they put all the goodies on this one.


Deep Cuts: The Clash

(Written by Una Persson)

For a band that was together for only 10 years, The Clash looms large in rock music history. They were one of the most successful bands to come out of the original wave of British punk rock in the late ‘70s, stand as icons for the entire punk rock movement (along with the Sex Pistols, of course), and, unlike most of their punk peers, could actually play their instruments. They also eschewed the nihilism and anarchy of many of their contemporaries for a more politicized, highly charged left-wing lyrical and ideological stance. Their seminal London Calling makes rock critics and Top Whatever list makers swoon. They only struck gold in America toward the end, with “Should I Stay or Should I Go” and “Rock the Casbah,” but from the outset, The Clash infused their brand of punk with a variety of other musical styles, from ska, reggae and dub to rockabilly, jazz, dance and anything else they thought would fit their punky musical stew. In fact, this edition of Deep Cuts takes a deep dive into one of those musical styles: The Clash, reggae-stylee.

“Police & Thieves” – The Clash
Junior Murvin and Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry’s mid-‘70s international club hit was recorded almost as an afterthought when The Clash were recording their first album (the band used to fool around with it in rehearsals), but it stands as one of the first instances of a rock band integrating reggae into their mix (the very first being Eric Clapton’s version of Bob Marley’s “I Shot the Sheriff” in 1974). Lots of first-wave British punks loved reggae and dub; The Clash were one of the few bands who actually incorporated it into their repertoire (one of the few bands of that era that had the musical chops to pull it off, most likely).

“(White Man) in Hammersmith Palais” – The Clash
First released as a single, and only included on the US version of The Clash’s debut album, Joe Strummer’s commentary on multi-culturalism, violence, race relations, class distinctions and other state-of-Britain affairs showed the band to be already head-and-shoulders above their punk brethren both musically and politically. The slow reggae burn throughout most of the song is decidedly different fodder than their early fans had already gotten used to from the band.

Give ‘Em Enough Rope
A decent album, not their worst (Cut the Crap holds that distinction) but far from their best, marred as it is with heavy-handed production and mixing. But, sorry, nothing even remotely reggae-sounding on any of the tracks.

“Wrong ‘Em Boyo” – London Calling
A revisiting of the Stagger Lee myth set to a rollicking ska beat.

“The Guns of Brixton” – London Calling
A sick dread skank, and the band’s first real experiment with dub (a reggae offshoot that overemphasizes the bass and drums, and blends in myriad other sounds and production and engineering techniques not part of a reggae song that evinces punk’s political violence.

To view the rest of the Clash deep cuts, click here.