Is This The Road That We Take To The End?

Brexit is happening suddenly but quietly. It’s largely disappeared as a news story, forced off the front pages/ top of the hour reports by Johnson’s victory in December which has taken all the debate and opposition out of it and a flurry of other stories- the royal family and paedophilia, the royal family and racism, the royal family and the entirely sensible decision by two of its members to get out of it, the Coronavirus, Trump’s impeachment and Iran to name but a few. Johnson promised to get it done. What he’s done is get everyone to stop talking about it. In two days time Britain will leave the E.U. Admittedly we won’t see any real changes until the end of the year. Freedom of movement will remain while the UK is in the transition period, we will still be bound by E.U. laws, and the European Court of Justice, worker’s rights and trade will remain the same but without any representation in the European Parliament. As the press looks elsewhere the government will supposedly get on with the job of negotiating the terms of the real departure and the UK’s future relationship with Europe, trade deals and all the rest. They’ve already passed legislation banning themselves from extending the transition period beyond the end of 2020 which means that we could conceivably slip out of the EU on December 31st without any deal. Something that a good number of these bastards have wanted all along.

Symbolically the moment when we leave is midnight on January 31st (Brussels time, nicely). That’s the moment that this country takes the step to make itself poorer, worse off in all sorts of ways, to cut itself off from the largest single market in the world, the moment this country chooses to be an inward looking, mean spirited, small minded Little Englander nation. There will be some arseholes draped in Union flags having parties where they’ve ‘banned’ French wine, Dutch cheese and German  sausage, Little Englanders to a man. They will be misty eyed dickheads standing staring at Big Ben, willing it to bong, and sharing pictures of the White Cliffs of Dover. These people will be gone one day, forgotten, swallowed up by the mess they created, the country they chose to reduce, the country they willingly have turned into a laughing stock around the world. I hope each one of them at some point has a moment where they see what they’ve done and silently admit to themselves that they made a massive fucking error.

Two late period Big Audio Dynamite songs, both showing in different ways that there was life in Mick Jones’ band after they were seen to have passed their sell- by date. In 1991 Mick put together a new version following the departure of the original line up after Megatop Phoenix. Recruiting three younger players (Nick Hawkins, Gary Stonadge and Chris Kavanagh) and renaming the band Big Audio Dynamite II they released Kool Aid in 1990 and then The Globe in 1991. The Globe was in part a re-working of Kool Aid, kicking off with Rush and the cracking title track plus fan favourite Innocent Child and one or two others that still cut the mustard. The Globe was remixed by ambient house heroes The Orb, nine minutes of bliss starting out with the song, then going all dubby bubbly and ambient before bringing in Mick’s most famous guitar riff to see us throgh the last few minutes.

The Globe (By The Orb)

By the mid 90s B.A.D. II had become Big Audio and then back to B.A.D. They were dropped by their major label and signed to Radioactive. In 1995 they released F- Punk, eleven songs created with the same line up Mick put together in 1990 but now with Andre Shapps on board on keyboards and co- production. Andre is the cousin of Grant Shapps, former chairman of the Conservative party and currently transport minister in Johnson’s cabinet. We can’t really hold this against Andre but it’s a bizarre link. F- Punk contained one end period B.A.D. classic…

I Turned Out A Punk (U.S. Mix)

Counted in by Mick shouting ‘1- 2- 3- 4’, a tinny two chord riff crashes in, backed by wheezy organ and then Mick’s familiar reedy voice…

‘Mummy was a hostess, daddy was a drunk
Cos the didn’t love me then, I turned out a punk…

… Slowly started slipping round, til my ship was sunk
Going nowhere in my life, I turned out a punk…

… took my disabilities, packed them in a trunk
rock ‘n’ roll’s alright with me, I turned out a punk’

Tremendous stuff, Mick still kicking against the pricks and writing from the heart. Fuck Brexit.

A Change Of Atmosphere

In 1990 the members of Big Audio Dynamite that weren’t Mick Jones left the group. Mick ventured on with a new group of recruits, renamed as Big Audio Dynamite II, all Stussy bucket hats and combat trousers. Mick’s song Rush stands out from that time, along with The Globe, evidence his songwriting skills were as sharp as ever and that he was still on top of things in the studio and in production. BAD II records are peppered with samples, new technology, house beats with guitars and some general Second/Third Summer Of Love vibes.

Rush

Mick played it a bit fast and loose with the release of Rush. It had already appeared on the Kool Aid album in a earlier form called Change Of Atmosphere. In 1991 The Clash were back in the press, charts and public consciousness with the use of Should I Stay Or Should I Go in the long running Levi’s adverts. The song was re-released and went to number 1, a feat which Mick was chuffed about, the song playing in every cinema in the country and it was an achievement The Clash never managed during the group’s lifespan. Mick insisted that the B-side to the single was Rush and then managed to get it listed as an AA side rather than a B-side (in an interview at the time Mick, a tad disingenuously claimed new bands always needed exposure and he saw BAD II was a new band). Apparently this didn’t go down too well with Joe and Paul. Rush is a super smart song though, whatever the back story. Mick’s voice crashes in, all reedy West London. ‘If I had my time again’ he sings, in the wake of the break up of another band, ‘I would do it all the same’. The song then finds space for some crunchy Jones guitar chords, keyboard and organ samples from songs by The Who and Deep Purple, a stolen drum break and some distinctive vocal samples by Big Hank from the Sugarhill Gang and  Peter Sellers. In verse two Mick continues to regret rien…

‘Now I’m fully grown
And I know where it’s at
Somehow I stayed thin
While the other guys got fat
All the chances that are blown
And the times that I’ve been down
I didn’t get to high
Kept my feet on the ground’

There’s then a long sample driven, breakdown section before a little mea culpa in the third verse

‘And of all my friends
You’ve been the best to me
Soon will be the day
When I repay you hands and knees
Broken hearts are hard to mend
I know I’ve had my share
But life just carries on
Even when I’m not there’

Fast on its feet, full of life and with an exciting, catchy chorus, Rush is a giddy blast.

As well as the Should I Stay Or Should I Go single Rush was released as a single in its own right in the UK and in America, eight versions and mixes, partly aimed at radio stations in the U.S and MTV- which clearly worked, Rush was at number one on the Billboard Modern Rock chart for four weeks. The UK White Label mix turned up officially on an Australian BAD compilation, a mix very much aimed at British clubland.

Rush (New York 12″ Mix)

Rush (UK White Label)

 

Situation No Win

This picture was from an NME interview, Mick Jones photographed in Portobello Road following his recovery from chicken pox and complications with pneumonia in 1989 that nearly killed him. I was hoping to find other similar pictures of punks on bikes and do a semi-regular feature called Punks On Bikes but alas I’ve not found any others (apart from Paul Weller in that Style Council video).

Mick always had the ability to rise from the ashes of defeat and disaster. He came back from being sacked from The Clash with Big Audio Dynamite and a debut album that was chock full of tunes and hits. When the original line up of B.A.D. walked out in 1990, partly in response to his ‘intolerable’ attitude after getting over his near fatal illness in ’89, he put together a new line up and came back once again. Rush was a big hit in the US (on the back of the re-released Levi’s tie in Should I Stay Or Should I Go? admittedly but it also gained B.A.D. II plenty of airplay and curiously they also won the Billboard Modern Rock Song of 1991 award). In Rush Mick sings of no regrets and of keeping moving…

‘If I had my time again
I would do it all the same
And not change a single thing
Even when I was to blame

For the heartache and the pain
that I’ve caused throughout the years
How I learnt to be a man
Through the laughter and the tears’

The song is so full of Mick Jones joie de vivre you can practically hear his wonky toothed grin as it plays and his continuing love of sampling is evident with borrowed sections from The Who, Deep Purple, Tommy Roe, The Sugarhill Gang and Peter Sellers.

‘Now I’m fully grown
And I know where it’s at
Somehow I stayed thin
While the other guys got fat

All the chances that I’ve blown
And the times that I’ve been down
I didn’t get too high
Kept my feet on the ground’

Mick was still playing Rush when touring with the Justice Tonight crew in 2011- hedefinitely played it The Ritz in Manchester, Pete Wylie sharing the mic and The Farm backing him. The release of it as the AA side to Should I Stay Or Should I Go? caught him a bit of flak from people accusing him of cashing in the back of The Clash’s belated number 1 single, but the whole Levi’s re-release was a cash-in, so why not? Across a multitude of formats there are at least eight different versions of Rush. This one is the album mix.

Rush

Come On And Dim The Lights

Following yesterday’s dub of a post-Clash Joe Strummer today we have a dub house remix of Mick and Big Audio Dynamite II. By The Orb no less. This is a long, bubbling version of The Globe which also manages to recycle Mick’s most famous Clash riff at around five and a half minutes.

The Globe (By The Orb)

Can’t Wait

When Mick Jones parted company with the first line up of Big Audio Dynamite (Don Letts, Greg Roberts, Leo Williams) he shed quite a few of his fans. But BAD II had some good moments that went unnoticed except by the hardcore. In 1990 the band released Kool Aid, an album with a supremely ill advised cover. Even at the time, this didn’t look good.

It certainly put me off buying it- I remember seeing it in HMV on Market Street and deciding to spend my money elsewhere, which at the time was not difficult. I caught up with both albums many years later. In 1991 many of the Kool Aid songs turned up in slightly different form on The Globe. Rush and The Globe were both good singles but the real sweet spot was Can’t Wait/Live. On Kool Aid Can’t Wait is half cooked. By the time of The Globe version it’s gained a much bolder string sample, the house influence is even clearer, Mick’s vocal is further forward and sonically it’s just much better all round.

Can’t Wait/Live

Post 1999

These blog anniversaries keep coming- this is my 1999th post. And this is from Big Audio Dynamite II, a live release called Class Of ’92, with Mick and the boys covering Prince’s famous end of millennium song.

1999 (live)

Class Of ’92 is coincidentally also the name of a recent film concerning the class of 1992- Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt, Gary and Phil Neville, David Beckham- of whom it was famously said ‘you’ll win nothing with kids’. Bloody kids. They did win something though didn’t they? United could do with some of them kids right now.

Where’s The Party Officer?

The early Big Audio Dynamite songs and lps are easy to praise and admire. Some of the later stuff seemed less so but I really like this 1990 song The Globe- Mick had been soaking up the club scene and this record reflects that in the beats, clipped guitars and the very early 90s rapping. The first set of musicians (Don Letts, Dan Donovan et al) had departed and Mick set out with a second group, named BAD II. The Globe’s got a lot of charm and this song and Rush were both hits in the USA. It also samples Mick’s Clash song Should I Stay Or Should I Go? which is probably very meta and must make sample clearance a lot easier.

The Globe (12″ Mix)