Picks and Pans Review: Megatop Phoenix

updated 11/06/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/06/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

Big Audio Dynamite

The transformation of Mick Jones from dissident co-founder of the Clash to post-disco dance-band leader of B.A.D. has been one of the more startling transitions in rock. When Jones left the Clash in 1983, there was scarcely anyone left from punk's late-'70s heyday. Then along came the hyper influences of ska and hip-hop. Jones apparently liked the possibilities, and it didn't hurt commercially to keep up with the latest styles.

After battling back from a serious bout with pneumonia last year, Jones has mustered up the energy to deliver an eminently danceable fourth album. Nothing really grabs you by the lapels until "Around the Girl in 80 Ways" (no, it's not a lewd drinking song, trust us), which will set you spinning. In "James Brown," the tributes to the incarcerated Godfather of Soul roll on with an almost cinematic recapitulation of the events that led to his arrest. There are sound effects and a snatch of "America" from West Side Story thrown in, but it's mainly a hit-the-dance-floor-running song.

Jones and co-producer Bill Price make ample use of the latest in hip-hop technology with digital sampling, but they don't leave you holding your head from too much gadgetry. Jones has described B.A.D. as "not so much a group, as an attitude to life—a sort of spaghetti Western." Their music might not make it as a sound track to a Sergio Leone movie, but it's stylish and adventurous enough to lure you to the dance floor and keep you there. (Columbia)

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