When the Clash Became BAD - A Stellar Second Act That's Still SO Punk
MUSIC is not a GENRE - Season 3 Episode #15
ALL ABOUT IT
FEATURED SONG: REC – “Make Me Mic My Mouth” (from Syzygy for the Weird)
One of the many great things about doing chronolographies is finding out the whole family tree of a band. For most bands, a breakup is not the end. I’m not talking about the reunion tour after the farewell tour (times infinity). The main creative forces in a band don’t just stop creating after “the end”. Some go on to solo careers – like Ozzy Osbourne or every Beatle. Some transition into non-band work – say, film & TV scoring like Danny Elfman of Oingo Boingo. Some do the retread circuit – cashing in on their own legacy like … name 1,000 of them.
Then there are those who reinvent the band experience, who maybe needed the breakup to allow other aspects of their creativity to blossom. Mick Jones is a great example of this. When he left the Clash – who released one more post-Mick album before breaking up for good, he wasted no time starting a new band with a new sound. After two short & unsuccessful runs as founder of the bands General Public & Top Risk Action Company (T.R.A.C.), Jones formed Big Audio Dynamite. They released nine albums over nearly 15 years, before Jones went on to form yet another band, Carbon/Silicon.
BAD had a ton of success (as well as at least three names – including BAD, BAD II, and Big Audio), peaking with this week’s album, The Globe. BAD carried on the Clash’s musical mission in many ways. Political songs. A pop sensibility that didn’t shy away from edge either lyrically or sonically. A mix of several types of music, including punk, funk, reggae & ska. But they got even weirder, more experimental, and added other styles like hip hop, dance, Afrobeat, electronica, and heavy sampling. Their lyrics went everywhere too. All in all, it was a vibrant & very successful reboot. The BIGGEST parallel between the two bands is that they both subverted conventional wisdom of what you can & can’t do with music. And once you do that, you’re also by default subverting industry standards & practices. SO punk.
I just listened to all of the Clash & BAD’s catalogs. I don’t think I realized how hugely influential BAD was on me, especially from 1985-1991. At least three of their first six albums had songs that immediately came back to me as soon as I heard them – no small thing since the last time I listened to most of this music was when it was new. You can hear that influence even today, especially in one of my band REC’s most recent songs:
REC – “Make Me Mic My Mouth” - https://youtu.be/PPb8lyj9Olc
Do you know any BAD or Clash music? Were you aware of the connection between the two? Can you think of other incredible second-act reinventions? Discuss dammit!