Sunday, February 24, 2013

Big Audio Dynamite - This Is Big Audio Dynamite

 Go ahead, London.
I was a fan of the Clash when I was in high school, but not the ravenous fan who maintains that Sandanista! is one of the few true genius works of the 80s (if only for its crazy ambition) that I am now. When Mick Jones left the band in 1983, I was 13 and didn't know it was a big deal, if I even had any idea it happened. But I was interested in his next project, "General Public" by General Public. Say what you will about General Public—or better yet, let me beat you to the punch by saying their cover of "I'll Take You There" is a terrible, terrible song—that first single is a weird dubby sinister record. I'm a fan. He didn't last long there, and in 1985, he debuted his new band, Big Audio Dynamite. Listening to their first album now, it's simultaneously dated and timeless. It doesn't really sound like anything. You can hear the music they were drawing from, like Ennio Morricone, dub, and early hip-hop, but there really hasn't been anything that sounded like it since. The anger of the Clash is muted, reduced to wry lyrics, and there's a bit of weird xenophobia on the song "Sony," a song that gained an ironic edge when its label, Columbia Records, was bought by Sony four years later. While hits "The Medicine Show" and "The Bottom Line" still have a good vibe, album tracks like "Sudden Impact" have aged better. Even though it's ostensibly dance music, I never danced to it at the time, and it doesn't have enough bass to shake my ass now, but it's still a fun record.


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