Big Audio Dynamite – The Bottom Line. Another 5 star song – the politics of dancing
I remember this album coming out back in 1985. A fan of the Clash, and particularly the later albums, with varied music styles and experimentation, I was keen to hear this one, with all the sampling from movies, cultural references and continued political references. I loved the spaghetti western references, the song all about Nic Roeg films (Insignificance came out in the same year, with all its own oblique commentary on Monroe, Einstein, Macarthy and di Maggio) – it seemed like the world of music had just got enormously bigger and open to all kinds of association and possibility. The anti-apartheid march and concert in Clapham Common the following year had them playing and it was a fantastic experience – my first concert, I think – I was so eager to hear the album live.
Of all the songs on the album, the Bottom Line has the most joi de vivre – its rhythm just makes me want to get up and bounce around to it. And while there isn’t much to the lyrics, they have a general message of Thatcher’s Britain sucks, but that shouldn’t hold us back. And Mick Jones has a great way with a guitar – a real gun slinger, the way the track opens with lazily but perfectly rhythmic strummed chords, pausing at odd moments to pack in unexpected punches, cowbell drumming and let samples and singing slot into place. It’s a glorious, rousing singalong – big dumb fun. Plus it was the first single to be released, so a good introduction to the album.