Minutemen- Double Nickels On the Dime
is what makes a man start fires.
Looking back at the first wave of punk rock music in the mid-70s to early 80s, there are some people who think that it began and ended with The Ramones, The Sex Pistols, and The Clash. Those people are morons. The true scope of classic punk music moves beyond the seedy streets of London and the stage of CBGB. On the West Coast of America, punk was evolving rapidly and assilimating other forms of music with which to express itself. This is the review of one gigantic album by one unsurpassable band that makes a fantastic listening experience.
Released in 1984 (I don't know the exact date but it was sometime after April when they finished recording), Double Nickels on the Dime
is the magnum opus from Minutemen, a powerful trio from San Pedro, California. The band was formed in 1980 as a regular ol' punk band, and disbanded in 1985 with the death of guitarist and frontman D. Boon. The band's evolution up to that point is evident in this double album of incredibly short yet awesome songs. No track is more than three minutes in length, but most of them are filled with Boon's wandering solos, Mike Watt's melodic and funky basslines, and George Hurley's frantic and busy drumming. This is an extremely gifted punk trio, and their chops are found in full on this album.
Double Nickels on the Dime
was originally released with 45 tracks as a double LP on vinyl. In order to fit it on a CD, a couple cover songs and other tracks had to be taken out, unfortunately. But what's left is still some of the best music punk has to offer, and you'll still hear a couple cover songs as well! I've decided to split the reviewing of the 43 tracks into groups of ten, as there is definitely a semblance of flow from one part to the next. And don't worry, I won't be reviewing ALL of them individually.
The album starts off with the ignition of a car engine (D.'s Car Jam)
before being driven into Anxious Mo-Fo
. Boon is "serious as a heart attack," at least for this song, which concludes with a trademark guitar solo. Theater is the Life of You
is a standout track for sure, with Watt's gentle bass intro giving way to a laid-back funk of Boon's angular riffs and political verses. Another Boon solo leads this track out to Viet Nam
, which begins with a few quick three-note bursts before settling into an angrier kind of funky line. Cohesion
is a classical guitar solo by D. Boon. #1 Hit Song
starts off with a build-up into a "happy" guitar riff, while Boon sings about winged horses and love, complete with guitar solo of course. Don't Look Now
is a live cover recording of a CCR song. Finally, track ten is Shit From An Old Notebook
, which jumps straight into an anti-commercialism rant from Boon, along with his longest guitar solo on the album. Takes up about half of the track, which is just fine with me.
This is where the album continues its pace established by the first quarter. One Reporter's Opinion
is the song I first heard to introduce me to the band, and I still love it to this day. The first 45 seconds or so are nothing but aimless noodling by the band before it collects itself and turns into a jerky funk. Mike Watt's bassline is just beautiful, even more than usual I'd say, but Boon asks us "What could be romantic to Mike Watt?" and the whole song is just a riff on him. Political Song For Michael Jackson to Sing
is another favorite of mine, simply because of Boon's insistance that "If we heard mortar shells/ We'd cuss more in our songs/ and cut down on guitar solos." Which of course, leads right into another awesome guitar solo. Maybe Partying Will Help
starts off with three quick pops from Watt and a riff from Boon. The chorus calms down, but the ferocious guitar solo is probably my favorite on the entire album. The Big Foist
has a catchy little intro riff that leads to one of the album's happier songs, as well as a fantastic guitar solo. Corona
was actually used as the theme song to MTV's "Jackass," so you've all heard the first thirty seconds of this song before. However, the song also has lyrics, so don't miss those! The Glory of Man
has a great bassline and it's also the album's longest song at 2:57.
The album is really hitting its stride here with some more choice songs. My Heart and the Real World
has an upbeat intro almost exactly like The Big Foist, so you'd have to enjoy this one as well. History Lesson, Pt. 2
is a softer piece where Boon and Watt reflect on their childhood and how they came to be. The Roar of the Masses Could Be Farts
sounds silly, but it's a fierce and cutting political song, as well as a definite standout track. West Germany
and The Politics of Time
continue the political talk, and the latter even features Mike Watt on vocals. Listen to the bassline he's playing in the verse and realize that he's singing too... it's enough to make Geddy Lee do a double-take! Themselves
is an excellent song about capitalism at its most degrading, and you can really feel that "The time is near!' as the revolution cried on the second track.
You might think that the album would start to ease up at this point, but it really doesn't. No Exchange
chugs along at a steady pace and reinforces Watt's ability to provide the melody, as Boon and Hurley take over the beat instead. This Ain't No Picnic
provides another great rallying cry to the working classes, but even Sam Walton could enjoy this song, just because it's awesome
has what is undoubtedly Mike Watt's funnest groove on the album. The walking bassline is so much fun to play, and Hurley's beat provides an excellent lock-step to play along with. Oh, and non-musicians will love it too. Jesus and Tequila
is a bluesy, almost-three-minute tale of woe. Doctor Wu
is actually a Steely Dan cover, which surprised me at first, but there's really no telling who wrote what song, which is again due to the band's versatility. Three Car Jam
finishes off the album, as the band members' cars start off and drive off into the stuff of legend.
So in summary, you should definitely listen to this album because you will like it. This is punk for people who would like to hear a fourth chord on occasion, or those who think that Green Day is the epitome of three-piece bands :rolleyes: This album may not be the most well-known punk masterpiece, but it was familiar enough to make Rolling Stone magazine's list of top 500 albums. Now if even those
clinically-deaf geezers can recognize the complete power of this album, don't you think that YOU might enjoy it?
Theater Is the Life of You
#1 Hit Song
One Reporter's Opinion
Political Song For Michael Jackson To Sing
Maybe Partying Will Help
The Big Foist
History Lesson, Part 2
The Roar of the Masses Could Be Farts
The Politics of Time
This Ain't No Picnic
I don't know what else to tell you. I guess I could have reviewed ALL the tracks, because some people like Toadies
or Two Beads At the End
more than I do and would tell you to get those songs as well. That's fine with me, because there really isn't a weak spot and you can try any song you'd like. Double Nickels on the Dime
is an album as flexible as the band itself.