Do The Du

Slipping back to 1985 today after I came across this twenty five minute clip yesterday. Husker Du live at The Stone in San Francisco on March 1st. The film starts towards the end of the set with Diane, Hate Paper Doll and Divide And Conquer (both from then recent release Flip Your Wig) and into an encore of Eight Miles High and Makes No Sense At All. For the final song, a romp through Louie Louie, the Huskers are joined by members of all four support bands- SWA, Saccharine Trust, Minutemen and Meat Puppets. Seeing Husker Du, Minutemen and Meat Puppets on the same bill seems extraordinary now but was standard for the time.

What seems funny about this video now is that it was professionally filmed but is so shonky. The sound is pretty hit and miss, Bob Mould’s guitar inaudible in places against Greg Norton’s bass. Whether that’s the sound at the gig or just what the cameras are picking up is I don’t know.

The group also show how different things were in 1985. Touring without much in the way of label support- SST had never had any money- they more or less just booked some dates, got in a van and off they went. Minutemen’s creed famously was ‘we jam econo’, in other words they cut their costs as far as they could, packed and unpacked their own gear, slept in the van or on fans’ floors, touring as cheaply as possible. Touring connected with them fans and promoted records (which could be bought if SST had got them into the record shops in the town they were playing). These bands have not been anywhere near a stylist or a focus group, there’s no lightshow, no backdrop, no projections, no gap between band and audience- all the things that modern signed bands take for granted. Different times.

This is also a new discovery for me, an unreleased outtake from 1984’s New Day Rising album. Corruscating independent punk from Reagan’s America.

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I Never Gave A Damn About The Meterman ‘Til I Was The Man That Had To Read The Meters, Man

As a follow up to yesterday’s Minutemen post- and since I reminded myself of them I’ve been playing their songs whenever I get the chance over the last couple of days, in among the other stuff- here’s the full audio recording in one handy zipfile of that November 1985 Acoustic Blowout! appearance (the forerunner to MTV’s Unplugged sessions I suppose).

Tracklist- The Meterman Corona, Themselves, The Red And The Black, Badges, I Felt Like A Gringo, Time, Green River, Lost, Ack Ack Ack, Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love, History Lesson Part II, Tour Spiel, Little Man With A Gun In His Hand

No work tomorrow so make the most of your Bank Holiday Sunday.

Minutemen Acoustic Blowout!

Our Band Could Be Your Life

I’d forgotten until recently how much I love The Minutemen-  three unlikely looking punkers from San Pedro, California who made several classic mid-80s indie-punk albums for SST. Although Minutemen are more of a band inspired by punk than sounding like punk. They were fired up by punk’s DIY attitude and sense of freedom and personal political responsibility but weren’t Sex Pistols copyists or three chord trickists. Instead they played very short, quite fast, agit-folk-punk with a bit of funk on the side. On their 1984 double lp Double Nickels On the Dime they released 43 songs, none much over two minutes long. This one tells their story and is just about perfect.

History Lesson Part II

From an earlier lp (Buzz Or Howl Under The Influence Of Heat) comes this intricate beauty, loads of ascending and descending, criss-crossing guitar and basslines, working up to the one line chorus- ‘little man with a gun in his hand’. If you don’t like this, I’m not sure there is any hope for you.

Little Man With A Gun In His Hand

And from the magnificent documentary We Jam Econo, History Lesson Part II live, acoustic and stripped down, with some chat from Mike Watt in the van first. D Boon, singer and guitarist, died in a car accident in 1985. I don’t think Mike Watt has ever gotten over it.

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Calexico’s 2003 album Feast Of Wire was some kind of career highpoint, featuring the very lovely Just Like Stevie Nicks… among other songs. The cd came with three extra songs, one of them being this one- Corona. It might not be the best thing they ever recorded but it’s a cover of a song by San Pedro post-punk-funk heroes Minutemen, so it can’t be all bad. It even just about survived becoming the theme tune to Jackass, that programme where grown men pushed each other over and laughed.

Minutemen ‘Political Nightmare’

Gordon can handle the economy, but his one-liners are delivered like they were written by script-writers.
Eton Rifle ‘Dave’ Cameron once met a black man who was worried about immigration. He met someone who’d been burgled too.
Nick Clegg isn’t like them other two, but he’s the winner apparently.

From The Minutemen’s Three Way Tie (For Last) album.

Made your mind up yet? (Hint: don’t vote Tory).

04 Political Nightmare.wma

Minutemen ‘Little Man With A Gun In His Hand’

Another Minutemen track, from an earlier record, Little Man With A Gun In His Hand from the mini-lp Buzz Or Howl Under The Influence Of Heat. Judging by the download stats at mediafire you lot wern’t that bothered by the first Minutemen track but I’m posting this one anyway, cos it’s ace. Guitar and bass interlocking and building, til the payoff vocal of ‘Little man with a gun in his hand… little man with a gun in his hand’. Give it a go. You might like it. Might make a change from all the Weatherall we’ve all been listening to.

08 Little Man with a Gun in His Hand.wma

Minutemen ‘Have You Ever Seen the Rain?’

I was watching Nurse Jackie the other night and two versions of this song were played, including the original by 60s rockers Creedence Clearwater Revival. Which made me remember that I have a version of this song, Have You Ever Seen The Rain? by Minutemen from 1985. By their standards this is an epic, clocking in at 2 minutes 24 seconds.

Minutemen were post punk ‘corn-dogs’, signed to SST, home of Black Flag and Husker Du. Minutemen played jerky, sparse, politically- edged songs, often in around a minute or two. They don’t really sound like anyone else, and are true post-punk; inspired by punk but not Sex Pistols clones. Their 1984 double lp Double Nickels On The Dime has 40-odd songs on it, and hardly a duff moment. Some of their stuff is truly great. This was from their ‘mersh’ period (Minutemen slang for going commercial). Needless to say, they never crossed over, despite supporting REM in the mid-80s.

Singer and guitarist D Boon died in a van accident in 1985, and the band broke up, re-appearing as fIREHOSE. Bassist Mike Watt is an all round good guy, having done stuff with The Beastie Boys, and recently playing bass for The Stooges re-union. There’s a good Minutemen doc on dvd We Jam Econo, worth seeking out. In the meantime, here’s Have You Ever Seen The Rain?

06 Have You Ever Seen the Rain-.wma