Top 10 Big Audio Dynamite Songs

Big Audio Dynamite Songs

Our top 10 Big Audio Dynamite songs list presents the music of a remarkable British musical group formed in 1984 by Mick Jones following his ouster from The Clash. Artists who joined Mick Jones to form the band’s original lineup included vocalist Don Letts, keyboardist Dan Donovan, bassist Leo Williams, and drummer Greg Roberts. Mick Jones led his fellow band members in developing the sound The Clash experimented with, blending punk rock, funk, dance, reggae, and hip-hop sound influences.

Unlike The Clash, Big Audio Dynamite’s musical pursuits never gained massive critical acclaim and commercial success. However, Big Audio Dynamite enjoyed a longer career than The Clash, rebranding into different (but related) names over the years. Notably, the band’s evolution from Big Audio Dynamite, then Big Audio Dynamite II, to Big Audio, and back to its original name, came with changes in its lineup. Nevertheless, Mick Jones was present in all of the band’s incarnations with his impressive talent proving to be the centerpiece of Big Audio Dynamite’s musicianship.

Big Audio Dynamite’s Album Releases over the Years

In 1985, Big Audio Dynamite issued its debut studio album This is Big Audio Dynamite. The album was issued through Columbia Records, a label (once) home to legendary artists including AC/DC, The Bangles, Bad Religion, The Clash, Destiny’s Child, and Michael Jackson. This is Big Audio Dynamite saw the band take on a blend of post-punk,  avant-rock, and dance-punk sounds.

The Mick Jones-produced album was a success in the mainstream rising to number twenty-seven on the UK Albums Chart. This is Big Audio Dynamite also made it to the Billboard 200 rising to position one hundred and three. The album was also a commercial success earning Mick Jones his first gold-certified record in the UK with Big Audio Dynamite. “E=MC2,” “Medicine Show,” and “The Bottom Line” are the best Big Audio Dynamite songs from This is Big Audio Dynamite.

No. 10, Upping St., issued in 1986, marked the band’s sophomore album. The album welcomed the collaboration of Mick Jones and Joe Strummer of The Clash on the production works. No. 10, Upping St. is the highest-charting album by Big Audio Dynamite on the UK Albums Chart, reaching position eleven.

The album was a success in the US, rising to position one hundred and nineteen on the Billboard 200. No. 10, Upping St. also graced the Swedish, Australian, and New Zealand album charts. The album was a commercial success, earning silver certification in the UK. Some of the most popular songs by Big Audio Dynamite from the album include “C’mon Every Beatbox,” “V. Thirteen,” and “Sightsee M.C!”

Big Audio Dynamite returned in 1986 with its third studio album Tighten Up Vol. 88. The band worked with a former member of The Clash Paul Simonon in designing this album’s cover artwork. Tighten Up Vol. 88 was a mainstream success rising to position thirty-three on the UK Albums Chart. The album also graced the Billboard 200 peaking at number one hundred and two. Some of the best Big Audio Dynamite songs from the album include “Other 99,” “Applecart,” and “Just Play Music!”

In 1989, the band issued its fourth studio album Megatop Phoenix. The album marked the band’s final album issued by Big Audio Dynamite’s original lineup. Megatop Phoenix was produced by Mick Jones in collaboration with Bill Price, a record producer best known for his work with Guns ‘N Roses, The Clash, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Pete Townshend, and The Sex Pistols.

Megatop Phoenix was a mainstream success rising to position twenty-six on the UK Albums Chart. This album also graced the Billboard 200 managing a peak position of number eighty-five. “James Brown,” “Everybody Needs a Holiday,” “Contact,” and “Union, Jack” are the most popular songs from the album.

In 1990, the band returned with its fifth studio album Kool-AidKool-Aid was the band’s first record under the moniker Big Audio Dynamite II. New members of the band include guitarist Nick Hawkins, bassist Gary Stonadge, and drummer Chris Kavanagh (who played with the band Sigue Sigue Sputnik). This limited UK-only album made it to the fifty-fifth spot on the UK Albums Chart. “Innocent Child,” “Change of Atmosphere,” and “Can’t Wait” are the top musical gems by Big Audio Dynamite II from Kool-Aid.

Big Audio Dynamite II went ahead to issue the album The Globe in 1991. The Globe’s track listing is almost identical to that of Kool-Aid with just a few more songs including the band’s chart-topping singles “Rush” and “The Globe.” Big Audio Dynamite II saw the album reach position sixty-three on the UK Albums Chart and position seventy-six on the Billboard 200 Chart. The Globe earned gold certification in Australia.

In 1994, the band issued its seventh studio album Higher Power as Big Audio. The change of its moniker came with the addition of keyboardist Andre Shapps and DJ Mickey Custance to the former Big Audio Dynamite II lineup. Higher Power was co-produced by Mick Jones, Andre Shapps, and Arthur Barker (who worked with Afrika Bambaataa and Planet Patrol). “Looking for a Song” and “Harrow Road” are the most popular songs by Big Audio Dynamite from the album. Higher Power was the band’s final record issued through Columbia Records.

The band went ahead to issue its eighth studio album F-Punk in 1995 under its original name Big Audio Dynamite. F-Punk was issued through Radioactive Records, a label (once) home to Traci Lords, Live, Black Grape, and The Ramones. “Psycho Wing,” “I Turned Out a Punk,” and “I Can’t Go on Like This” are the best Big Audio Dynamite songs from the album. Radioactive Records declined to release the band’s ninth and final album Entering a New Ride. As a result, the band issued the album through its website. Unfortunately, the band went on a hiatus almost immediately after issuing its ninth studio album. Let’s now take a look at the top 10 Big Audio Dynamite songs of all time.

#10- Looking for a Song

We open our top 10 Big Audio Dynamite songs list with the tremendous hit “Looking for a Song.” The song is featured on the band’s seventh studio album Higher Power. “Looking for a Song” is also featured on the band’s 1995 compilation album Planet B.A.D. The song blends alternative rock, funk, pop, and hip-hop influences—we can’t forget the impressive guitar riffs that make it quite a distinctive pick.

Notably, the song features a sample of the hit “Just Get Up and Dance” by Afrika Bambaataa. “Looking for a Song” was a mainstream success rising to the twenty-fourth spot on the Billboard Alternative Airplay Chart. The song also graced the UK Singles Chart rising to position sixty-eight. “Looking for a Song” is the last single by Big Audio Dynamite to rise to the UK Singles Chart.

#9- James Brown

“James Brown” is one of the most impressive picks from the band’s fourth studio album Megatop Phoenix. The song was a collaborative effort by Mick Jones and his then-bandmate Don Letts (known for directing music videos for The Pretenders, Musical Youth, Elvis Costello, and The Psychedelic Furs among others). “James Brown” has its lyrics centered on the publicized arrests of the “Godfather of Soul,” singer James Brown.

Owing to its lyrical context, “James Brown” was more successful in the US than in the UK—the song failed to grace the UK Singles Chart. Nevertheless, “James Brown” made it to the Billboard Alternative Airplay Chart, rising to the second spot. The song also made it to the Billboard Dance Club Songs Chart, making it to number nineteen.

#8- C’mon Every Beatbox

The eighth spot on our top 10 Big Audio Dynamite songs list is the brilliant hit “C’mon Every Beatbox.” “C’mon Every Beatbox” is an alternative dance track penned by Mick Jones in collaboration with Don Letts. The song serves as the album-opening track to Big Audio Dynamite’s sophomore studio album.

This 1986 single contains samples of the 1971 film The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight, the 1972 film The Harder They Come, and the 1984 film The Cotton Club for this track. “C’mon Every Beatbox” rose to number fifty-one on the UK Singles Chart. The song also graced the Billboard Dance Club Songs Chart, rising to number sixteen.

#7- Just Play Music!

“Just Play Music!” is one of the most successful post-punk hits by Big Audio Dynamite. The song is featured on the band’s third studio album Tighten Up, Vol. 88. “Just Play Music!” was penned by Mick Jones, Don Letts, and Greg Roberts. The song was a mainstream success, rising to position fifty-one on the UK Singles Chart.

However, the song’s biggest milestone was topping the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks Chart, toppling the hit “Peek-a-Boo” by Siouxsie and the Banshees off the top spot. The song only spent a week atop the chart before the song “Peak-a-Boo” reclaimed the number one spot. “Just Play Music!” also graced the Billboard Dance Club Songs Chart peaking at number forty-five.

#6- V. Thirteen

Number six on our top 10 Big Audio Dynamite songs list is the raving hit “V. Thirteen.” The song is an alternative dance pick from the band’s sophomore studio album No. 10, Upping St. “V. Thirteen” was penned by Mick Jones and Joe Strummer, both of who shared vocals roles in the band The Clash. The song contains samples (the opening dialogue) of the 1984 comedy-drama film The Chain. “V. Thirteen” was a mainstream success, rising to the forty-ninth spot on the UK Singles Chart. The song also graced the Billboard Dance Club Songs Chart, rising to position fifteen.

#5- Medicine Show

This is Big Audio Dynamite was quite an impressive album, thanks to the band’s experimental blend of post-punk sounds with dance-punk, and avant-rock. “Medicine Show” is among the songs that crowned the album a success. The song’s lyrics were penned by Mick Jones and Don Lett. Don Lett also directed this song’s music video featuring Paul Simonon and Joe Strummer of The Clash.

Other reputable artists featured in the music video to “Medicine Show” include John Lydon and Neneh Cherry of the Sex Pistols. “Medicine Show” was a huge success in the UK where it peaked at number twenty-nine on the Singles Chart. The song also made it to position forty-two on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Chart.

#4- The Globe

“The Globe” is one of the most sought-after hits off the band’s sixth studio album of the same name. The song was penned by Mick Jones in collaboration with bass guitarist Gary Stonadge. “The Globe” contains samples of the 1983 hit “All Night Long (All Night)” by Lionel Ritchie and “Should I Stay or Should I Go” by The Clash.

The song is one of the only two tracks by Big Audio Dynamite to ever grace the Billboard Hot 100 (peaked at number seventy-two). “The Globe” also climbed to the eighth spot on the ARIA Singles Chart. Unfortunately, this song never made it big in the UK failing to enter the UK Singles Chart. “The Globe” was commercially successful, earning a gold certification in Australia.

#3- The Bottom Line

The hit “The Bottom Line” is among the first post-Clash songs released by Mick Jones. “The Bottom Line” was issued as the first single of the band’s debut album This is Big Audio Dynamite. Despite being one of the most revered singles by Big Audio Dynamite, “The Bottom Line” was not a hit in the UK, only managing to rise to the ninety-seventh spot on the UK Singles Chart.

However, the song was a success in Australia where it graced the ARIA Singles Chart, rising to position thirty-four. The song also made it to Billboard Dance Club Songs Chart peaking at number thirty-three. A 1990 remix of the song “The Bottom Line” was used in the comedy film Flashback.

#2- E=MC2

“E=MC2” is an energy-filled track that showcased Big Audio Dynamite’s experimentation with some synth pop and new wave influences. The song pays homage to a number of films by British filmmaker Nicolas Roeg, some of which starred musicians Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones and British singer David Bowie.

“E=MC2” was a mainstream success rising to the forty-seventh spot on the ARIA Singles Chart. The song also graced the Billboard Dance Club Songs Chart, reaching position thirty-eight. “E=MC2” also earned a spot on the UK Singles Chart, rising to the eleventh spot.

#1- Rush

At the top of our top 10 Big Audio Dynamite songs list is the rip-roaring hit “Rush.” The song is featured on the band’s sixth studio album The Globe. “Rush” contains samples from multiple artists/bands including The Who, the Sugarhill Gang, Tommy Roe, and Deep Purple among others. This masterpiece was a commercial success in Australia and New Zealand where it earned gold certification.

While “Rush” failed to make it to the UK Singles Chart, it earned massive success outside Europe. The song is the only track by Big Audio Dynamite to have topped the ARIA Singles Chart. “Rush” also topped the Billboard Alternative Airplay Chart. The song is Big Audio Dynamite’s highest-charting hit on the Billboard Hot 100 peaking at number thirty-two.

Feature Photo: swimfinfan from Chicago, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Top 10 Big Audio Dynamite Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023

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