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This Is Big Audio Dynamite


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Performer Notes
  • Personnel: Mick Jones (vocals, guitar); Greg Roberts (vocals, drums); Don Letts, Leo "E-Zee-Kill" Williams (vocals); Dan Donovan (keyboards).
  • Unknown Contributor Roles: Dan Donovan; Flea .
  • Elbowed out of the Clash, Mick Jones responded forcefully with Big Audio Dynamite, a modernist audio-terrorist outfit whose 1985 debut, This Is Big Audio Dynamite, seemed all the more futuristic when compared to Joe Strummer's reductionist retro rejiggering of the Clash on Cut the Crap. Strummer may have been intent on shedding every experimental element of the Clash's prime, but Jones, in collaboration with longtime friend filmmaker Don Letts, picked up where Sandinista! left off, anchoring BAD in dance and rap, building the group's debut on layers of samples and drum machines. As is often the case, what was once forward-looking seems inextricably tied to its time in retrospect and the clanking electro rhythms, Sergio Leone samples, chicken-scratch guitars, bleating synths, and six-minute songs of This Is Big Audio Dynamite evoke 1985 in a way few other records do. Nevertheless, BAD's boldness remains impressive, even visionary, pointing toward the cut-n-paste masterpieces of the late `80s and early `90s, and since Jones did not abandon his innate gift for hooks -- if anything, he found ways to create rhythmic hooks as well as melodic ones -- it's quite accessible for an album that is, at its core, avant-rock. [Legacy's 2010 double-disc expansion of This Is Big Audio Dynamite remasters the original eight-track LP and adds a second 12-track CD. Befitting BAD's futuristic dance bent, almost all of these are 12" remixes of the album's singles -- "Medicine Show," "E=MC2," and "The Bottom Line" -- including no less than four previously unreleased mixes -- and there's also the outtake "Electric Vandal," plus the B-sides "Albert Einstein Meets the Human Beatbox" and "This is Big Audio Dynamite," with every last one of these 12 songs extending the modernist sampledelia of the album proper.] ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Professional Reviews
Uncut (p.136) - "The album was cleverly crafted and, beneath all the modern trappings, it was delightfully old-fashioned."

CMJ (1/5/04, p.18) - Ranked #11 in CMJ's "Top 20 Most-Played Albums of 1986"

Uncut (magazine) (p.81) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "THIS IS...is still buoyed by a joyful sense of adventure and release from the fractious final days of The Clash."
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