Wednesday, February 16, 2005

"We'd Go Drink and Pogo" ... The Minutemen Get Their Due

One of the truly monumental bands of the punk rock era gets its celluloid due. Billboard magazine reports on a new documentary chronicling the life and times of the Minutemen. In its all-too-brief career, the hard-charging trio from San Pedro, Ca., fused funk, punk and folk-singer earnestness to roar through the sharpest politically edged rock of the Eighties.

We have high hopes for the film, We Jam Econo -- The Story of the Minutemen, but at the very least it will be wonderful to see the heyday years of drummer George Hurley, bassist Mike Watt and the late great guitarist D. Boon.

Watt tells it was particularly gratifying -- if intense -- to revisit those years before D.Boon's death in a motorcycle accident in 1985. "I wasn't really trying to say that we were more special than other folks, I was trying to show how accessible the whole thing was," Watt says. "Especially the punk movement in those days -- you just went for it."

Except that the Minutemen were more special than other folks. A lot of punk during that time had the attitude and the agitation down cold, but had nothing to sell but boneheaded bluster about anarchy and beer. By contrast, D.Boon was an unabashed leftist who actually followed what was happening in the world around him. And Mike Watt introduced the scene to an invigorating style of bass that paved the way for such pioneers as Primus' Les Claypool. With their decidedly non-pretty boy looks and flannel shirts, the Minutemen made two near-great records -- 1983's Buzz or Howl Under the Influence and 1985's 3-Way Tie for Last -- and one unequivocal masterpiece: 1984's Double Nickels on the Dime. In fact, I still get chills when I hear "History Lesson -- Part 2," a seeming throwaway of a song in which the Minutemen mythologized themselves and could make you feel nostalgic for a life that wasn't even yours.

"We'd cuss more in our songs and cut down the guitar solos..."
-- D.Boon, "Political Song for Michael Jackson to Sing," 1984.

For a trailer of the movie and more information, click here.


At 4:44 PM, Blogger James said...

I can hardly wait to check this documentary out. Suffice it to say if I can't get to a theater, I'll be getting a hold of the dvd. That band was very special...the first couple years of fIREHOSE were pretty cool as well. Mike Watt is one of my favorite bass players from any genre.


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