“The horses are on the track…”
In September 1983, with what was prolly the beginning of the end for The Clash, Mick Jones, the legendary band’s lead guitarist, co-lead vocalist and songwriter since their inception in 1976, was fired from the band. Punctuality (or lack thereof) was a prominent factor in his dismissal from The Clash.
Not long after getting booted from “the only band that mattered,” Mick Jones did something that prolly felt natural for him – he helped start another band – General Public, which was founded with The English Beat’s Dave Wakeling and Ranking Roger, from the ashes of that band, which broke up in 1983.
But, the association Mick Jones had with General Public was quite short-lived. Although his name is featured on the credits of General Public’s debut album, …ALL THE RAGE (he did play guitar on “Tenderness,” “Never You Done That” and at least three other songs), Mick left during the recording of the album. I think had Mick stayed with Dave and Roger and General Public, it would have been quite interesting and amazing. But, I can’t be mad at Mick and forgive him for leaving because…
…in 1984, Mick went on to co-found the Post-Punk, Alt-Dance band, Big Audio Dynamite, with film director Don Letts, who had previously directed a number of Clash videos and later the 2000 Clash documentary, WESTWAY TO THE WORLD, which picked up a Grammy Award in 2003 for Best Long Form Video.
The first album for Mick’s third band in two years, the appropriately-titled THIS IS BIG AUDIO DYNAMITE, was released in October 1985, interestingly enough, the month before the release of CUT THE CRAP, the last album by The Clash, which most folks thought was, well, crap (save for tracks like “This Is England”).
When ROLLING STONE’s David Fricke reviewed CUT THE CRAP in January 1986, THIS IS BIG AUDIO DYNAMITE got mentions as well: “If CUT THE CRAP is a cheat, then Mick Jones’ new band Big Audio Dynamite is an unexpected gamble. ‘That old time groove is really nowhere,’ Jones shrugs in ‘The Bottom Line,’ brusquely dismissing [Joe] Strummer’s retropunk didacticism. Instead, he continues, ‘I’m gonna take you to part two,’ which on THIS IS BIG AUDIO DYNAMITE is an intoxicating subversion of Eighties dance-floor cool with SANDINISTA!’s dub-funk turmoil… THIS IS BIG AUDIO DYNAMITE hardly transcends the Clash’s finest hours, but for Jones it is a new beginning. With CUT THE CRAP, one might well wonder if Joe Strummer’s at the end of the road.” David was right – The Clash broke up in early 1986. Many folks, yours truly included, thought they had already broken up long before then.
But, with songs like “E=MC2,” “Medicine Show,” “C’Mon Every Beatbox” and “BAD” (featured in the 1986 John Hughes classic, FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF), Big Audio Dynamite and THIS IS BIG AUDIO DYNAMITE were thriving. The album was certified Gold in their U.K. homeland, and reached the Top 10 in New Zealand.
The first single released from the album (and the only song on the album solely written by Mick Jones) was “The Bottom Line.” It was also the first song by B.A.D. that made me fall in love with the band, though not until 1987, when one of my (future) best friends, Michael, introduced me to them. “The Bottom Line” did not fare well in the U.K. (where it reached a surprising No. 97 chart peak), but it was a Top 40 hit in Australia, New Zealand and BILLBOARD’s Dance chart.
There were at least a couple of different remixes for “The Bottom Line,” and though I enjoy the U.S. 12” mix by Rick Rubin, I have always favored (and will always prefer) the original and glorious 8-minute, 40-second U.K. 12” Remix. Not only does it mirror the 4:35 album version, but when the album version is ready to cut out, in the U.K. Remix, Mick and Co. actually DO take you to Part Two (“I’m gonna take you to, I’m gonna take you to part two, part two…”)
Nearly 32 years after its release, it’s interesting how the song’s lyrics could still apply today:
“A dance to the tune off economic decline / Is when you do the bottom line / Nagging questions always remain / Why did it happen and who was to blame
“When you reach the bottom line / The only thing to do is climb / Pick yourself up off the floor / Don’t know what you’re waiting for
“They’ve been doing it down at the zoo / And I can show ya here’s what to do / All of the States and over UK / Even the Soviets are swinging away…
“So when you reach the bottom line / The only thing to do is climb / Pick yourself up off the floor / Anything you want is yours…”
Apart from a 2011 reunion, Big Audio Dynamite (and later, the successful Big Audio Dynamite II) stopped years ago, but Mick (who turns 62 in June 2017) is still keeping busy, performing in recent years with the live band for the popular U.K. Alt-Rock / Electronica band, Gorillaz, and on albums for Alt-Rockers, The Wallflowers, and Algerian singer, Rachid Taha (who released a brilliant Arabic cover of “Rock The Casbah” in 2004).
All these years later, my bottom line on “The Bottom Line” is that it’s still so infectious (especially the original 12” U.K. Remix) and amazing to dance to or listen to in the car, or anywhere. And, if for some Godforsaken reason you have never heard this song, click on the link to the original video below, or take the next 10 minutes, find the link to the original 12” U.K. Remix and get ready to move. It may not be that “new dance that’s going around” anymore, but “when the hits start flying,” you’re GONNA get down. And then you’re gonna “pick yourself up off the floor” and do it again…