Uncle Jordan’s Vault: 45 Goddamn Tracks!

minutemen-doublenickelsI am a huge fan of 1980’s hardcore punk music, for those of you who don’t know me (so, all of you). Consequently, I spend a lot of time on this site championing bands from that era, some of whom are less well-known than others. Your average music fan is aware of bands like the Ramones and the Clash, while being equally aware of groups like Nirvana and Soundgarden. They may be less aware of the groups in between. It’s kind of like a long book that’s missing the middle section. Or imagine the original Star Wars trilogy without The Empire Strikes Back. That would suck, right?

American hardcore music is like The Empire Strikes Back. It fills in the gaps. This is the part of the equation where your high-school math teacher would urge you to “show your work.” Hardcore music is work personified, in a way. Without the dedicated fanzine publishers and concert organizers, the hardcore scene never would have sprouted in the U.S. Guys like Greg Ginn, Ian MacKaye and Calvin Johnson were dedicated to creating a national network where there wasn’t one before. Sure, Eisenhower built the country’s highways during his presidency, but there was no such infrastructure in place for independent music.

This “hardcore” umbrella was about more than just punk, however. Plenty of decidedly non-punk groups used the nascent network for their own purposes. Bands like Butthole Surfers, formerly unclassifiable, finally found the distribution and venues that they needed in this very scene.

Sponsored link (story continues below)

And then there’s a group like the Minutemen. This San Pedro, CA trio produced more than a few classic records in their heartbreakingly brief existence, but none is more representative of the group’s sheer scope than their seminal 1984 album “Double Nickels on the Dime.” I can’t think of an album in existence that takes the listener to more distinct places in a relatively small amount of time. Sure it’s 45 tracks, but very few of them are more than two minutes (although that has nothing to do with how they got their name). Dennes Boon, Mike Watt and George Hurley are political without being preachy. They provoke without antagonizing. Most importantly, god damn can they play!

Over the course of what ultimately runs the length of your standard double album, the trio delves into psychedelia, country, roots-rock, and occasionally hardcore punk. Check out their de facto mission statement, “History Lesson Part 2.”

Or their scathing parody of success, “#1 Hit Song.”

How about my favorite Minutemen track of all time, “My Heart and the Real World.”

Perhaps their most famous song is “Corona,” which served as the theme song to MTV’s Jackass.

There are many, many other tracks that are great. We simply have time/space constraints.

The Minutemen prided themselves on what they called “jamming econo.” This meant saving money and avoiding excess whenever possible. This meant creating something for yourself instead of paying into an established and oppressive system. They were a wonderful and unique group that became extinct forever roughly around the same time I was born.

Lead singer/guitarist D. Boon was thrown from a van in an accident. He died instantly, and the Minutemen were also dead.

Watt and Hurley grieved for quite a while, and then formed fIREHOSE with 21-year old Ohio State (go Bucks) student Ed Crawford. Crawford was probably the biggest D. Boon fan alive, and for a while the group was a fun way to prolong the Minutemen idea for a bit longer.

But ultimately, Dennes Boon was one of a kind. His interplay with the other two members was something that only could have come about organically, through years of playing and shared experiences.

And another one of my favorite groups remains a footnote. Maybe it’s better that way. At least I still have my vague feeling of superiority. Without it, I’d be lost!

2 comments to “Uncle Jordan’s Vault: 45 Goddamn Tracks!”
  1. Great stuff. These guys somehow fell through the cracks of my awareness, now I can say I know what they’re all about. It sounds like they didn’t finish some of these songs. I love this site!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *