Big Audio Dynamite…why I’m excited about this reunion

Good day how is it where you are then? Things are alright here – an extended break from the computer yesterday and another stupid injury playing football in the evening (age or lack of flexibility – not sure which officially is the culprit perhaps both) resulted in me not getting a new post out on the Saturday so I’ll try for one now and one a bit later on. That might be a tad optimistic as it’s already Sunday evening here but I’ll do my best. I’m still getting used to the confirmation of the long rumoured reunion of Big Audio Dynamite which isn’t something I really expected after the band wrapped up. As much as I enjoyed seeing Gorillaz in October it was strange not seeing Mick head to the microphone and sing one of his own compositions – which as a by product made me even happier that I was able to meet him and have a brief chat . Seeing him and not hearing his voice would have been a little bit of an anti-climax.

b.a.d. logo Big Audio Dynamite...why Im excited about this reunionSo just how significant is a reunion and live dates from Big Audio Dynamite? In Clash circles it’s about as good as it can get – we can never see The Clash reform (please tell me they’d never do an INXS and tour with a replacement lead vocalist….right?…no never) nor can we see Joe and The Mescalaros again. So if you look at the this from a Clash timeline and if like me you think the first few B.A.D. albums were about as close to a feeling of the continuation of The Clash as we were ever going to get. Even if you argue that ‘No Joe = No Clash’ that was even taken care of on the second Big Audio Dynamite album where Joe Strummer co-wrote and co-produced, musically I think that may have been the peak of what the band achieved (over the course of an entire album) and not coincidentally Strummer’s involvement meant that the actual creation and development of the songs was as near to The Clash as was ever to happen after 1983. Some have gone as far as to say that “This Is Big Audio Dynamite” was the 6th Clash album but I wouldn’t take the case to that level although it does surely represent a certain element of what Mick would have brought to The Clash if that lineup had remained in place after Combat Rock. Don’t forget that live The Clash were already sampling from movie soundtracks mid song and experimenting in other ways for the Rat Patrol recordings (the original Mick Jones version of what was sliced down for Combat Rock). Speaking for myself I’m still swayed by the sentimentality of where I was in 1985 – I was still pissed off that Mick was kicked out of the band and far more impressed by B.A.D. than Cut The Crap. My ‘loyalty’ (such as it was) stayed with Mick’s band for the remainder of that decade and into the next. While, I don’t think that B.A.D. scaled the same heights as The Clash in terms of overall impact and importance they didn’t fall miserably short. In fact I’d cite them as one of the three best bands from 1985-1989 and certainly the most innovative. The chance to see them again live is exciting though I’m happy to say I was able to see them four times – I am more pleased for those who might not have seen them for the first time – hopefully some of you reading this. I hope it’s the original lineup..I want to meet Don Letts!

The Guardian’s Ben Myers takes it a step further than me though in an article you probably already caught which asked on Friday “Big Audio Dynamite: more pioneering than The Clash?” – a bold question which he then goes on to contest quite effectively within the article. ‘Pioneering’ is an interesting term however, if he asked if Mick’s newer band were ‘more important’ or ‘better’ than The Clash you’d laugh and tell him to jog on. The short answer from me is no but both bands were very ‘pioneering’. Mick Jones was and is ‘pioneering’ so it is only logical the two bands he worked longest with share that distinction. More pioneering though stands up to a better debate, they were certainly more pioneering than the post Sandinista! Clash (with or without Jones) but it is difficult to compare what music needed in 1976/7 versus 1985/6. I think B.A.D. sounded less like any other contemporary bands in the mid 80’s than The Clash did in the 70’s but the truest measurement for me would be long term influence and how well the music lasts. With the exception of the last B.A.D. album I think the whole output stands the test of time well but you really need context to be able to say that. Listen to E=MC2  today and compare it with some of the big hits of the year it came out (Shout by Tears for Fears, Don’t You Forger about Me by Simple Minds) and I think Mick’s song stands up far better 25 years later. Exactly the same thing you’d say about Complete Control or London Calling which represent really different eras. Do read The Guardian piece  though and the comments below….what those who are old enough to remember 1985 recall accurately reminded me that Big Audio Dynamite looked pretty bloody amazing…it was 1985 and punk wasn’t about to happen again and Jones/Letts never pretended it should. Their image spoke of something very new and very different and the music lived up to that. Sampling and loops weren’t as earth shattering as punk’s 3 chord salvos but who’s to say if they were any less innovative? I’ve always wondered just how excellent B.A.D. would have been lyrically if Joe Strummer was the wordsmith but perhaps that would be a pointless question – isn’t the answer simply The Clash?

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Big Audio Dynamite – Sightsee M.C. (live)

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28 responses to “Big Audio Dynamite…why I’m excited about this reunion”

  1. I too am excited about it. Fond memories of seeing BAD at the Hibernian, London, Guy Fawkes day '87. They were sharp! Less sharp (but still fun) was BAD II at the Sound Factory & Ritz NYC.

  2. "This is B.A.D", "No. 10 Upping Street", "Megatop Phoenix"….those were all innovative for their time, using sampling and big bass beats. It even sounds fresh today. Exciting, excited, excitement!

  3. angus mccubbine says:

    going to go back and listen to my BAD cds all over again now.

  4. Interested and intrigued by a BAD reunion. Hope they do a UK venue tour and not just the festival circuit. Sure I've still got my BAD baseball cap somewhere-probably the only piece of clothing that fits me 25years later!

  5. notimewarp says:

    Yeah, I got a few little BAD momentos I need to dig out for show and tell… too bad that video doesn't have pro sound too it. That's such a bad ass song. Always did well when I played it on notimewarp radio. Hope you get to go Tim and meet and INTERVIEW Don Letts!

  6. Andy Brown says:

    Tim, calm down! I loved The Clash in my teens…. but… GET OVER IT you loon!

  7. Gordon says:

    Nine date UK tour starting Liverpool end of march

  8. jonesie says:

    Fantastic news!! Loved first B.A.D. album -- a classic! Fond memories of being 'paid' to see them live at The Astoria (1987ish) when my kind boss let me pop round the corner from my (then) waitressing job -- cheers Steve!! Hoping to get to the Empire…..;-)

  9. Sean Flynn says:

    I didn't truly discover the Clash until '88 or '89 when I was in middle school, but I agree with you that once I'd poured through their catalog, B.A.D. was the closest thing I could get to post-Clash music. I loved This is B.A.D. and still think it was their best album. I also really enjoyed Havanna 3 A.M. for the same reason. Then in '89 Joe came out with his solo record which took me a few playings to really start digging. But through all of that material B.A.D. was the best sounding music. Mick was always the heart and soul of the Clash's sound so it makes sense that artistically his post-Clash work would appeal strongest to Clash fans.

    I am excited about this new reunion but I am quite disappointed that no US dates have been announced.

  10. CARL SIMPSON says:

    with you on that one Tim….the horses are on the track..

  11. Gordon says:

    Excellent poster at

  12. dubsaint says:

    does anyone know if the tour will include any Dublin dates

  13. Vicki says:

    I loved BAD> Cant wait to dig out my red corduroy BAD cap too! I remember someone once asking me if it meant Michael Jackson! LOL. Anyway just so psyched for this reunion. Saw the band everytime they played NYC and even once in Trenton. Love them : )

  14. Anonymous says:

    aguante !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!anarkistas

  15. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Keri williams and Tom Garrett, Tim Merrick. Tim Merrick said: Big Audio Dynamite…why I'm excited about this reunion via @theclashblog […]

  16. David Rose says:

    Is it just me, but £30 a ticket is taking the Mick -- feels to me like they're just trying to cash in -- I know this isn't the Clash reforming, but every bit of marketing goes on as if it is -- Joe will be turning in his grave.

    • Tim at The Clash Blo says:


      I know its hefty until you consider it costs more than that to see one football match…..

      Concert tickets have increased in price rapidly the last decade.

  17. David Rose says:

    Concert tickets have increased I know and as someone who works in the industry I'm all for keeping the industry afloat and paying a fair price, but having just done a bit of quick research, this ticket price is well over the odds -- at the Bristol Academy for example, most tickets are priced in the under £20 bracket -- The Damned £18, The Alarm £15 even a double bill of The stranglers and Wilko Johnson is only £23.50, so unless BAD have got touring costs that are considerably more than the average, it seems to me that someone is being a little greedy.

  18. Tim at The Clash Blo says:


    Fair points…it's obviously a bit over the top. Not sure if the show will feature extra video/guests that would raise the overheads? Otherwise they are putting a premium on the 20 year wait I suppose…not that it makes it a good thing. Ticket prices in London haven't increased as much as I feared…unless acts have backed off a bit due to everyone being skint.

  19. Chris Colbeck says:

    I thought £27.50 was a bit steep,but who's putting up the money for the tour? I doubt CBS/Columbia/Sony or whoever will be,not that I'm an expert on these things but didn't John Lydon have to do a butter advert to fund PIL's tour?

  20. Chris Colbeck says:

    Ok Tim,I'm also relying on you to be the first to announce the support acts.I'm going to the Leeds gig.

  21. lanzarishi says:

    BAD was amazing. Lyrically nothing could touch it. Listen to Sony, MC2 totally literate and then some. They really rocked as well. Love the idea but at mid 50 I have my er..doubts, ya know? But then again…I'm wishing.

    • Tim at The Clash Blo says:

      Thanks for your comments, I think Mick/Don's lyrics were always stronger than given credit for. As for the reunion…I'm staying optimistic…I hope it will be excellent.

  22. […] ‘Big Audio Dynamite -- Why I’m Excited about this Reunion’ (Jan 23) […]

  23. Andy MacKinnon says:

    any news on whether there'll be legacy editions of tighten up and upping street?

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