Vinyl Confessions: 43 Reasons to Love Minutemen’s Masterpiece

minute[I]n a recent Elmore review about Game Theory’s seemingly-forgotten opus Lolita Nation, I alluded to the fact that the album’s structure recalled that of punk band Minutemen, particularly their landmark album Double Nickels on the Dime, released a year before frontman D. Boon’s tragic death at age 27. Yet while both these albums have a boatload of songs (27 on Lolita, 43 on Double Nickels), it must be noted that they sound radically different from one another.

Lolita Nation – devised from the pop pastiche mind of the late Scott Miller – is riddled with California-inspired jangly guitars, peppy synthesizers, and Bangles-worthy harmonies. Even though Minutemen hailed from San Pedro, their album is terse and more direct without any frills involved. Boon would bark his lyrics over staccato guitar melodies, while bassist Mike Watt yanked at his strings in reply. Drummer George Hurley never soloed, but still kept a strong beat.

Double Nickels is the album where Boon proclaimed, “Our band could be your life.” Well, maybe not my life per se, but I freely admit I was (finally) inspired to listen to this gem after reviewing Game Theory. Since then, it’s been in constant rotation on my iPod.

Each of the album’s 43 vignettes (most tracks stay under the two minute mark) have their own story to tell. That being said, here’s a list of each song and a (simple) reason why they should be heard:

  1. “D’s Car Jam/Anxious Mo-Fo” – First line D. Boon sings is “As serious as a heart attack.” He isn’t kidding.
  2. “Theatre is The Life of You” – Boon sings about his mortality – eerie, considering he’ll be dead the following year.
  3. “Viet Nam” – The catchiest song about war ever. Oh how Sublime must have drooled over this one.
  4. “Cohesion” – Who knew Boon could play guitar like Paco De Lucia.
  5. “It’s Expected I’m Gone” – Gotta love Boon’s indifference: “I make certain my head is connected to my body.”
  6. “1 Hit Song” – See Number 5: “Twinkle twinkle / Blah, blah, blah.”
  7. “Two Beads at the End” – Is that a groove I hear?
  8. “Do You Want New Wave or Do You Want The Truth?” – Pure poetry: “I stand for language / I speak for truth / I shout for history / I am a cesspool.”
  9. “Don’t Look Now” – This is a punk band but they’re not punk enough to cover CCR.
  10. “Shit from an Old Notebook” – Sounds like every Red Hot Chili Peppers song ever released.
  11. “Nature Without Man” – It’s as primal as the title sounds.
  12. “One Reporter’s Opinion” – A guitar hasn’t sounded this strange since Bauhaus’ “Bela Lugosi’s Dead.” Keep your ears peeled for the Mike Watt name drop.
  13. “Political Song for Michael Jackson to Sing” – Could this be why MJ wrote “They Don’t Care About Us?”
  14. “Maybe Partying Will Help” – Punk disguised as fusion jazz.
  15. “Toadies” – “Number Seven on the Chump List” would make for a great Sublime song.
  16. “Retreat” – Sweet to sour in a matter of seconds. “The toilet is flushing” almost sounds pretty coming out of Boon’s mouth.
  17. “The Big Foist” – “I’m fucking overwhelmed,” Boon cries. Quick, get him a chair.
  18. “God Bows to Math” – An indirect ode to Frank Zappa. All that’s missing is someone screaming, “Help, I’m a rock!” in the background.
  19. “Corona” – Punk? Sounds more like country to me.
  20. “The Glory of Man” – Mike Watt brings the funk as Boon channels The Police through his razor-like guitar slices.
  21. “Take 5, D” – Time for a plumbing lesson, 21 songs into the album.
  22. “My Heart and The Real World” – The arguable precursor to “The Impression That I Get” by the Mighty Mighty Bosstones.
  23. “History Lesson – Part II” – “Our band can be your life.” Says it all right there.
  24. “You Need the Glory” – From the Captain Beefheart School of Execution.
  25. “The Roar of the Masses Could be Farts” – Listen to Phish’s “Llama.”
  26. “West Germany” – “Viet Nam” in a lower register.
  27. “The Politics of Time” – Off-beat beat poetry.
  28. “Themselves” – George Hurley as Jeff Porcaro.
  29. “Please Don’t be Gentle With Me” – Bring it on!
  30. “Nothing Indeed” – Right out of CBGB’s.
  31. “No Exchange” – Mike Watt has the groove again.
  32. “There Ain’t Shit On T.V. Tonight” – The antithesis of Black Flag’s “T.V. Party.”
  33. “This Ain’t No Picnic” – The band’s take on “Blitzkrieg Bop.”
  34. “Spillage” – “The idea of my life seems like a symbol.” How prophetic.
  35. “Untitled Song for Latin America” – History lesson part III.
  36. “Jesus and Tequila” – A winning combination for one’s life, according to Boon.
  37. “June 16th – About time for a vocal breather.
  38. “Storm in My House” – Didn’t Squeeze write this?
  39. “Martin’s Story” – Punches you right in the face.
  40. “Dr. Wu” – Covering a band most punks hate (Steely Dan); how punk of you!
  41. “The World According to Nouns” – Sounds like a sad world.
  42. “Love Dance” – Do you need an explanation?
  43. “Three Car Jam” – The album ends how it begins. We’ve come full circle.

-Ira Kantor

 

Dig the column? Reach out to Ira via email at ikantor84@gmail.com or on Twitter at @ira_kantor

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