100 Greatest Songs of the 80’s #50 Big Audio Dynamite – E=MC²

Released : 1985

Joe Strummer’s fears were realised after the departure of Mick Jones holed The Clash well below the waterline, but his former co-songwriter was already looking forward, not back. In Big Audio Dynamite he could have ideas which would’ve been anathema previously, expand them, take risks and mine the innovative trends of the day – sampling, loops, hip-hop delivery – and call it pop. And along with old sparring partner Don Letts, plus bassist Leo Williams, drummer Greg Roberts, and keyboardist Dan Donovan, he did just that.

BAD as they quickly became known were in a moment when visual media was in the early stages of exploitation and as such it was fitting that their finest hour was a song about a film, or several. E=MC² with it’s wonderful splatting drum sound and Jones maddeningly repetitive guitar snag was in words about an obsession with the arthouse director Nic Roeg, most specifically 1970’s psychotropically exploitative Performance, from which many of it’s snatches of dialogue were taken.

Jones cut an unlikely frontman, but BAD were trailblazing without many at the time realising it: in their wake experimentation travelled, with The Shamen – whose pre-rave album In Gorbanchev We Trust mixed indie and Ibiza-esque beats – and shortly afterward former punk contemporaries Cabaret Voltaire ditched their menace for the more house influenced Code. Punk it wasn’t. But a shock to the system it was.

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