Released: April 27, 2010
The downside of a “deluxe” re-issue of an album is that it forces the hand of completists, pushing the purchase of yet another version of an album they already likely have on more than one format. The upside is that it offers more bang for the buck of first time buyer and often puts rare or previously unavailable material in print. The other upside is that a re-issue can return an album that has fallen off most people’s radar to the spotlight and that’s really the case here.
Mick Jones’ last three albums with the Clash were genre-mixing explorations that pushed the limits, not only of punk, but of rock and pop as a whole. With the exception of London Calling, these efforts were both uneven as well as underrated. Big Audio Dynamite not only continued that tradition, but also expanded on it. Considering that such a broad palette would be considered commonplace in the next decade, This Is Big Audio Dynamite doesn’t get its due for for the part it played in laying out the landscape for many of the alt rock bands that exploded into the 90s.
In addition to getting some well-deserved exposure for the core album (which peaked at only #103 in the US), the Legacy Edition also takes an interesting approach with what is commonly a rather boring collection of bonus material. Instead of random 12″ remixes and b-sides, the first eight tracks of the bonus disc mirror the track listing of the original release, making it more of an alternative version of the whole album rather than just a collection of alternate tracks. Better still, few of these remixes are overindulgent and actually fit quite well with the regular material whose mixes and arrangements are generally smart and interesting. Getting the title track, absent from the original, doesn’t hurt either.
All in all, in the usually dull world of re-issues, This Is Big Audio Dynamite might have enough of an upside to make it worth purchasing just one more edition. Sadly though, this one won’t be coming on vinyl.