Blue Plate Special: Big Audio Dynamite
Big Audio Dynamite (or BAD) was an English band formed in 1984 by Mick Jones, who was the former lead guitarist and co-lead vocalist of the Clash. The band was known for its eclectic mix of musical styles, such as punk rock, dance music, hip hop, reggae, and funk. Some of their popular songs include “E=MC2” and “Rush” which featured samples from films and radio broadcasts. The band went through several lineup changes and name variations, such as Big Audio Dynamite II and Big Audio, before breaking up in 1997.
While I was aware of the Clash and was a fan of some of their singles (I Fought the Law, Rock the Casbah, London Calling), it was the 1985 release of This Is Big Audio Dynamite that made me a fan. Along with their second album No. 10, Upping St., they were part of my regular record rotation for more than a decade. While subsequent albums were not as good, their reformation in 1991 as Big Audio Dynamite II with the release of The Globe brought them back into the spotlight. After 9 studio albums, they disbanded in 1999, returning for a reunion tour in 2011.
Here are some of my favorites:
The Bottom Line – from the album This Is Big Audio Dynamite (1985)
I remember when this song hit the airwaves the summer before I went off to university. It is part of the soundtrack of my teenage years.
Kool-Aid – from the album The Globe (1991)
There were several singles from this album, with the new Big Audio Dynamite II lineup, but this remains my favorite from the album. It’s just a cool groove.
Rush – from the album The Globe (1991)
This was the first single off of their sixth studio album. While it did not perform well in overall charts, this single had major rotation on modern music stations in the US and around the world, helping the album hit #10 in Australia and #16 in New Zealand…but peaking at 76 in the US.
Contact – from the album Megatop Phoenix (1989)
The second single from the fourth studio album, and the final album with the original band lineup. I remember when the single was released with lackluster reception, but I always thought it was a good representation of the band. It’s kind of a transitional song from their earlier sound to the house music that was becoming popular during the time.
E=MC2 – from the album This Is Big Audio Dynamite (1985)
The other massive single from their debut album that cemented their place in the 80’s music history books. I love this song. Such a classic.
The Globe – from the album The Globe (1991)
Any success of their sixth album can be attributed to the performance of this single. It was a huge hit. If you were alive in 1991, you remember this song.
Hollywood Boulevard – from the album No. 10, Upping St. (1986)
While not a single from their second album, which reunited Mick Jones with former Clash bandmate, Joe Strummer, as a writer and producer, this is my favorite song from the album, which included hits “C’mon Every Beatbox” and “v. Thirteen.”