[Review] Big Audio Dynamite: F-Punk (1995)

A stripped-down vision of the revolution, with meat ‘n potatoes melodies and the usual underdog charm.

Kronomyth 8.0: Easily F ended.

If you thought the media-and-potatoes rockers delivered by the first incarnation of B.A.D. were nothing more than three bored chords with the telly on, F-Punk will make you nostalgic for the television and that third chord. The first time I heard this disc, I thought it was garbage; F Mick Jones and his lazy two-chord revolution, I thought. But the second time I heard it, “I Turned Out a Punk” got under my skin like “Looking for a Song” had before it, and soon I was hearing that subtle hook and groove at work under Jones’ flat vocals and caveman guitar chords at every turn.

Marc Bolan used to have a similar effect on me. I knew when I was listening to a song like “Main Man” that Bolan was yanking our universal chain by handing in hastily written homework as though it were art, but I gave it an “A” anyway because there are too many Bs in the world and not enough honey. Likewise, I know that “I Turned Out a Punk” is half-done homework, but Mick Jones does half-done better than most people do done. (Da doo ron ron.)

If you’ve developed a taste for Jones’ monochromatic mush and the mushrooms that grow in its shadows (neat beats, exotic samples and hidden melodies), you’ll get your fill with “Singapore,” “Psycho Wing,” “Get It All From My TV” and the rest of these tracks. You’ll even find a few neat surprises, like an actual ballad (“Got To Set Her Free”) and a hidden track in which B.A.D. pays homage to David Bowie with a straight cover of “Suffragette City.” (Ha! My Marc Bolan analogy doesn’t look so crazy now, does it?)

In my opinion, the second incarnation of B.A.D. (Higher Power, F-Punk) distilled what was best about B.A.D. (i.e., the hummable underdogs like “V. Thirteen” and “Other 99”). Unfortunately, the great clock in the music machine struck big audio midnight, and the band never released another album.

Read more Big Audio Dynamite reviews

The Songs

1. I Turned Out A Punk
2. Vitamin C
3. Psycho Wing
4. Push Those Blues Away (Mick Jones/Gary Stonadge)
5. Gonna Try
6. It’s A Jungle Out There
7. Got To Set Her Free
8. Get It All From My TV
9. Singapore
10. I Can’t Go On Like This (Mick Jones/Lauren Jones)
11. What About Love?
12. (Hidden track:) Suffragette City (David Bowie)

All songs written by Mick Jones unless noted.

The Players

Micky Custance (DJ, percussion, vocals), Nick Hawkins (guitar, vocals), Mick Jones (vocals, guitar), Chris Kavanagh (drums, vocals), Andre Shapps (keyboards), Gary Stonadge (bass, vocals). Produced by Mick Jones and Andre Shapps; engineered by Andre Shapps, Henry Glover, Jason Evers.

The Pictures

Sleeve by Davo. Photos by Joe Shutter, Pennie Smith, Wurzel, B.A.D.

The Plastic

Released on 2LP and compact disc on June 20, 1995 in the UK and the US (Radioactive, RAR2/RARD-11280) and Japan (MCA, MVCM-536) with gatefold cover.

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