Big Audio Dynamite reissue recaptures '80s spirit

Wed Apr 28, 2010 5:36pm EDT
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By Dean Goodman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Punk-rock rejects don't fade away. They just start hip-hop groups.

That's basically what Mick Jones did after he was kicked out of the Clash for supposed tardiness in 1983, an expulsion that hastened the demise of the iconic British punk band.

The singer/songwriter/guitarist behind such Clash hits as "Should I Stay Or Should I Go" and "Train in Vain" wasted little time corralling some musicians and friends into a second groundbreaking group.

Big Audio Dynamite was like nothing that anyone had heard before, combining reggae bass lines and New York-influenced hip-hop beats with Jones' rock 'n' roll guitar and decidedly English vocal stylings.

B.A.D. also sampled movie dialogue in its songs, a process so innovative that no one thought to charge the band licensing fees or sue for copyright infringement. Songs such as "E=MC2" and "Medicine Show" contained snippets from cult films like "Performance" and "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly."

Unfortunately, its albums did not exactly burn up the charts. While B.A.D. gained a loyal following among the cognoscenti and college kids, mainstream success was elusive. Record stores did not know what section to put the albums in, and radio stations were similarly vexed. The band has been largely forgotten.

"The real pioneers never get to get the prize," keyboardist/lyricist Don Letts philosophically told Reuters in a recent interview. "It's the people that come along after the fact and water the s--- down. They're the ones that collect."

After four albums, BAD split acrimoniously. Jones relaunched the band a few times with a revolving cast of musicians, finally pulling the plug in the late 1990s.   Continued...

<p>Mick Jones performs at the 2008 NME Awards USA at El Rey theatre in Los Angeles April 23, 2008. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>