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Saturday 9 October 2021

I Dream Light Years

San Pedro's 80s punk heroes Minutemen burst back into my musical life last night, their song The Anchor suddenly appearing in my mind in response to a post at New Amusements. Then suddenly I was down a Youtube wormhole of Minutemen songs, D. Boon, Mike Watt and George Hurley delivering short sharp bursts of politics and life over an urgent, super taut punk and post- punk musical bedrock. The Anchor, Little Man With A Gun In His Hand, History Lesson Pt. 2 and I Felt Like A Gringo all flew by in a matter of minutes. I was going to post any or all of those but on checking I've posted all those songs before so instead went for this...

The Glory Of Man

From their 1984 opus Double Nickels On The Dime, The Glory Of Man is trebly, funky guitars, rock solid bass playing, rattling drums and lyrics apparently inspired by James Joyce and Ulysses. Mike Watt sets out his stall with a startling first few lines- 'Starting with the affirmation of man/ I work my self backwards using cynicism/ The time monitor the space measurer...' 

Two years earlier in July 1982 they recorded their second album in one evening, What Makes A Man Start Fires. It opens with this song...

Bob Dylan Wrote Propaganda Songs

Blisteringly fast and over in a minute and a half, Watt works out that writing political songs is fine, even if they veer towards sloganeering, because Bob Dylan wrote propaganda songs so why shouldn't he? They just took the thoughts that occurred to them or came up in conversation and then turned them into songs. 

Watt and Boon had played together since school and worked out not just a way to play together musically but a philosophically too. Boon believed that the guitar shouldn't 'bogart the bass', that the guitarist should stay away from the lower frequencies and that each player should have his own realm. Watt's baas playing pushes so many of their songs along, the signature and the foundation of their songs. D. Boon plays fast and trebly, spindly and dynamic, the two instruments locking into each other and dancing around each other. Both men wrote and sang. They toured endlessly using their touring philosophy 'we jam econo'. Play as many gigs as you can when on the road ('if you're not playing you're paying' was another Minutemen buzz phrase), load and unload your own gear, sleep on other bands' floors, build a network of like minded souls in disparate towns. An inspirational band from a time when these things really mattered. 


Martin said...

Good stuff. A band I'm not overly familiar with, but want to explore now.

Swiss Adam said...

If I may promote my own ICA at the Vinyl Villain (links probably dead by now but the song choice remains) https://thenewvinylvillain.com/2018/06/06/an-imaginary-compilation-album-xxx-the-minutemen/

Khayem said...

I didn't follow Minutemen at the time, but came to them after the fact through music paper reviews of fIREHOSE and Mike Watts' association with Sonic Youth. That ICA was a great primer, many years on, and your post prompted me to recreate it and add to this week's playlist selection. Nice work, Adam!