Big Audio: “Looking For A Song” (1994)

Another sweet song about three-thirty long that doesn’t have an F’ing thing to do with punk music.

Kronomyth 7.01: C’mon every beatlebox.

Honestly, I believe critics were happy to be rid of Big Audio Dynamite, since most didn’t know what to make of the band to begin with. The classic rock idaltrey, old film snippets, rap and punk rolled together equalled a bad trip for critics who thought the upper clashmen (Strummer, Jones) were going to eat the past and all alternative futures rather than ingest them like some Lovecraftian nightmare. So when Jones and the second batch of BAD (now going by the abbreviated Big Audio) released a formal followup to The Globe, there had to be some grumbling among the groundlings that Banquo’s Ghost had come back for a second helping.

I, on the other hand, would tell you that “Looking For A Song” is one of the brightest moments in what can only be regarded as a spottily stellar career. As if to underscore that point, the five-track CD single was repackaged with a promotional compilation of fifteen hits called Greatest Hits -- The Radio Edits. That’s right, the single includes a bonus greatest hits compilation. I’ve seen it done the other way around before (Jefferson Airplane, The Stranglers, Yes), but leave it to Big Audio to turn an idea on its head. Not that the song needed such a complicated thing to sell it. “Looking For A Song” is a charmer: BAD meets The Beatles with the usual gimmickry tossed in for good effect.

 

The CD single includes a radical Zonka/Shapps remix (the radio remix featured on the compilation is less radical), a carnival ride of a collaboration with stage composer Lionel Bart (who was 64 years old when this was recorded!) and two live songs from Mick Ronson’s Memorial (suffice to say Ronson was the only one dying to hear them). And then there’s that “free” compilation, which does everything you would expect a proper Big Audio compilation to do except cost money. I was a little miffed that they chose a different version of “V. Thirteen” than the album version I know and love, but it’s hard to be angry with a free compilation.

Read more Big Audio reviews

Original CD single

1. Looking For A Song (radio mix)
2. Rush (live)

Extended CD single (UK)
1. Looking For A Song (extended LP version)
2. Looking For A Song (Zonka/Shapps Adventures In Space mix)
3. Medicine Show (live)
4. Rush (live)

Promotional 12-inch single (US)
1. Looking For A Song (Zonka/Shapps early mix)
2. Looking For A Song (Zonka/Shapps remix)
3. Looking For A Song (extended album mix)
4. Looking For A Song (Zonka’s Adventure In Space)

Special 2CD set version
Disc One: Greatest Hits – The Radio Edits
A1. Looking For A Song (radio mix) (Mick Jones) (3:45)
A2. Innocent Child (edit) (Mick Jones) (3:55)
A3. The Globe (edit) (Mick Jones/Gary Stonadge) (3:46)
A4. Rush (edit) (Mick Jones) (3:08)
A5. Free (edit) (Mick Jones/Bill Price) (3:30)
A6. Contact (edit) (Mick Jones/Dan Donovan) (4:12)
A7. James Brown (remix edit) (Mick Jones/Don Letts) (3:58)
A8. Other 99 (edit) (Mick Jones/Don Letts) (4:27)
A9. Just Play Music! (edit) (Mick Jones/Don Letts/Greg Roberts) (4:27)
A10. Hollywood Boulevard (Mick Jones/Don Letts) (3:57)
A11. V. Thirteen (Joe Strummer/Mick Jones) (4:38)
A12. C’mon Every Beatbox (edit) (Mick Jones/Don Letts) (4:31)
A13. E=MC2 (edit) (Mick Jones/Don Letts) (4:32)
A14. Medicine Show (edit) (Mick Jones/Don Letts) (4:27)
A15. The Bottom Line (edit) (Mick Jones) (3:46)
Disc Two
B1. Looking For A Song (album version) (Mick Jones) (3:46)
B2. Mirror Man (Lionel Bart) (4:19)
B3. Looking For A Song (the Zonka/Shapps remix) (Mick Jones) (7:18)
B4. Medicine Show (live) (Mick Jones/Don Letts/Leo Williams) (8:36)
B5. Rush (live) (Mick Jones) (7:08)

The Players

Produced by Mick Jones and Andre Shapps; engineered by Andre Shapps; remixed by Andre Shapps and Michael Custance.

The Plastic

Released on CD single and extended CD single in November 1994 in the UK (CBS, 38K-77785/661 018-5); reached #68 on the UK charts. Also released as promotional CD single in 1994 in the UK (CBS, XPCD-551) and the US (Columbia, CSK-6506) feat. A radio mix only. Also released as promotional 12-inch single in 1994 in the US (Columbia, CAS-6553). Also released as 2CD set in 1994 in the US (Columbia, 2SK-6567) with Greatest Hits – The Radio Edits.

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