Big Audio Dynamite: “The Bottom Line” (1985)

If punk died when The Clash signed to CBS, then this is punk’s creepily reanimated zombie.

Kronomyth 0.9: Rocking the cash bar at another bad wedding.

The end of The Clash was a bitter pill to swallow. Big Audio Dynamite was a placebo for the people who, like me, were Jones’ing for just one more high. The initial reaction to BAD ranged from confusion to elation. Some listeners were quick to raise their banner as the new future of rock. I fell into the camp of the confused. Their music sounded like Jones and some mates half-assing their way through rock, punk and rap at a drive-in theatre. Maybe he was having the time of his life, but timeless music this wasn’t.

Thirty years on, I still don’t get it. Watching the video for “The Bottom Line,” it’s just one big mess. I agree with the concept: we live in a media-saturated world, so let’s make music that sounds like the tv and the radio are running at the same time. But if the radio isn’t playing anything interesting and you’re not paying any attention to what’s on tv, the bottom line is you’re just wasting your time.

Of course, a lot of people were paying attention to Mick Jones’ post-Clash outfit. Not since Public Image Ltd. had a “punk” band enjoyed this kind of promotion. And many people enjoyed their first offing, This Is Big Audio Dynamite. Remember, this was the same time period when Starship’s “We Built This City” was taking the world by storm. It’s also, not coincidentally, around the same time that I stopped paying attention to contemporary music and started listening almost exclusively to progressive and classical music.

As for the notion that Jones was starting a second revolution (an idea advanced in the video), revolutions are ugly, not cute. Malcolm McLaren’s “Buffalo Gals,” that was revolting. Rick Rubin’s remix of “The Bottom Line” belongs on the cutting floor, not the cutting edge. Of minor interest, it appears that the UK and US 12-inch singles feature different edits of the remix (the UK version runs slightly longer). The flip side, the self-promotional “BAD,” also exists in extended and remix versions.

Read more Big Audio Dynamite reviews

Original 7-inch single version

A1. The Bottom Line (Mick Jones) (4:35)
B1. BAD (Mick Jones/Don Letts) (6:25)

Original 12-inch single (UK)
A1. The Bottom Line (Rick Rubin remix) (Mick Jones) (7:20)
B1. BAD (Rick Rubin remix) (Mick Jones/Don Letts) (6:08)

Original 12-inch single (US)
A1. The Bottom Line (Mick Jones)
B1. BAD (Mick Jones/Don Letts) (8:19)

The Plastic

Released on 7-inch and 12-inch single in October 1985 in the UK (CBS, A/QTA 6591), the US (Columbia, 44-05324), Australia (CBS, BA 3364) and the Netherlands (CBS, CBSA 6591) with picture sleeve. Also released on 12-inch single in 1985 in the US (Columbia/Def Jam, 44-05370).

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