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The video Jim Jarmusch made for Big Audio Dynamite
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1986’s No. 10, Upping St. was kind of an amazing album for Big Audio Dynamite. That was the band Clash Guitarist Mick Jones formed upon his ouster from that seminal punk band, and he used the freedom that came with being HMFIC to explore a mix of club and hip-hop influences with the rock and reggae influences he’d already been known for. And yet, Upping was co-written and produced by his evidently no-longer-estranged former bandmate Joe Strummer! Jones would never re-join the Clash (who, as a result, would suck mightily until they packed it in), and so that B.A.D. LP would be the only Strummer/Jones reunion that ever took place. Jones revealed last year that he and Strummer were working together again in the 21st Century, but that renewed collaboration was cut short by Strummer’s 2002 death.

Three videos were made from that album, “C’mon Every Beatbox,” “V. Thirteen,” and “Sightsee M.C!” That last was noteworthy for having been directed by the pioneering independent filmmaker Jim Jarmusch. The director had already become a celebrated figure for Stranger Than Paradise and Down by Law, but the only music video he’d made before was for Talking Heads’ “The Lady Don’t Mind.” In spite of Jarmusch’s high status among indie musicians as well as film afficionados, and his frequent casting of musicians (including Joe Strummer) as actors in his features, ”Sightsee M.C!” remains one of only seven music videos he’s directed in his long career. In a 1992 issue of Film Comment, he had this to say on the matter:

I don’t generally like music videos because they provide you images to go with the songs rather than you providing your own. You lose the beauty of music by not bringing your own mental images or recollections or associations. Music videos obliterate that. That said, one of the better videos I’ve seen is not a music video at all: it’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues” where Dylan just stands there with the cards - it’s one single shot. They lifted that out of Don’t Look Back and showed it on MTV. I saw a good video the Butthole Surfers did, directed by the actor from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Alex Winter; very weird, not your MTV fare. Julia Haywood’s Talking Heads video “Burning Down the House” was interesting - projecting fire onto the house itself, and images onto the road and re-photographing them. Zbigniew Rybczinski has done amazing things. But mostly I like videos that don’t get too complicated.

 

Posted by Ron Kretsch

 

 

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