My Top 1000 Songs #514: Medicine Show
When Big Audio Dynamite's debut arrived in 1985, "The Bottom Line" was the immediate attention grabber, the pithy, catchy track that signaled, Ok, fine, The Clash are no more, but this new Mick Jones outfit's gonna be alright. But I'll always have a ton of affection for album opener "Medicine Show" (though, were I programming the LP, I'd probably re-order those two). It's gleefully fun, a clever tale of the old-time magical elixir salesman, funny lyrical couplets as the wanderer pitches its myriad uses. "Immunity from ridicule, improves your brains if you're a fool. And I read in the Middle East, traded some for a hostage release. Now if you're bald it'll give you hair, if you've got straight trousers it'll give you flares."
As with much of This Is Big Audio Dynamite (and the band's first few albums), Don Letts' deployment of samples is half the fun, the track laden with dialog from Western movies, a little Clint Eastwood to help the medicine go down easy. Plus the whole thing is backed by this simple little guitar hook that's been living in my head for forty years.Live 1986: