Friday, June 12, 2015

FRIDAY REWIND - MINUTEMEN's Buzz or Howl Under The Influence


buzz or howl under the influence of heat

1. Self-Referenced (0:00)
2. Cut (1:25)
3. Dream Told by Moto (3:29)
4. Dreams Are Free, Motherfucker! (5:16)
5. The Toe Jam (6:29)
6. I Felt Like a Gringo (7:10)
7. The Product (9:09)
8. Little Man with a Gun in His Hand (11:54) 

Sometimes it's troubling to me how out of touch I am with some of the 80's punk scene. I grew up listening to my mom's old records from the 50's/60's and learning about bands from what I was hearing on the radio and watching on cable television. I learned about Black Flag from the Six Pack video and Judas Priest from their videos on MTV. Over the last ten years or maybe more I've been playing catch up and the world of music that I now know exists comes from that exploration. I constantly make mental notes about bands I will someday have time to delve into. My fascination with the catchup game started somewhere around the time Moby covered Mission of Burma's "Revolver". I was immediately taken back by how exclusive I felt learning about the Boston based punk icons when I would wander into a record store and see the twinkles in the eyes of the old crusty record store clerks as I asked for an out of print Mission of Burma record. I was onto something.

Thanks to the Mark Maron podcast, WTF, my catchup game has been stepped up a few levels.  Maron's conversations with the likes of J. Mascis (Dinosaur Jr.), Bob Mould(Husker Du) and Steve Malkmus(Pavement) to name just a few have really opened my eyes to a layer of music history that I've been totally glossing over for years. Today my itunes notified me of a new interview with the Minutemen's Mike Watt and I quickly started pregaming with a listen to one of their classic EP's "buzz or howl under the influence of heat" and a viewing of a live video of the band playing "Corona". Now this isn't the first time I've listened to the Minutemen. Without totally realizing it, the Jackass tv theme song intro which has always been a favorite of mine is low and behold from "Corona". Aside from what I've heard on various compilations and perhaps old skate videos I've never actively searched out the bands music. What a fucking shame. Sadly I have to admit, I would often times confuse the Minutemen with the Dead Milkmen when someone would ask if I was a fan or a long time listener. Anyways, today I finally rooted out some Minutemen and this EP is killer. It's ahead of it's time as I find a lot of bands of this era were. As a huge Clash fan some of this EP really tugs at the strings of that groove meets punk vibe. D. Boon's vocals are like a smoky combination of a non cockney accented Mick Jones(The Clash) and a less tinnitusy Roger Miller(Mission of Burma). The band's rhythm is so upbeat and spunky every song feels familiar even if it's a first or second time listen. That's not saying it's derivative, that's saying it's good. Mike Watts bass playing is exceptional and it's clear why Dave Grohl, Eddie Vedder and Pat Smear would be his back up band later on in the 90's.

My overall opinion of this EP is that I need to hear a lot more of it and their other releases. Also since I'm about to delve into the Mike Watt interview, I may just have to play catchup with Mike Watt's own solo efforts. It's never too late to become a fan of thirty year old music or even later. Sometimes you need to step back and delve into an old collection of records, tapes and/or cds. Never be afraid or lazy about opening the doors of a music reality you may have never known existed and completely get lost in the sounds many great musicians put out into the ether. You may learn something or two.

My favorite tracks (with notes) off the EP....
Little Man with a Gun in His Hand (the song feels like home and I don't know why)
Cut (the noodling riffs remind me of Black Flag)
I felt like a Gringo (hendrixy/clashy vibe)

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