In the extensive catalog for the Minutemen, Buzz or Howl Under the Influence of Heat is probably the least talked about full-length (or a major EP seeing that there are only eight songs). The record was recorded in the mist of the bands heavy touring schedule, and right before they released "What Makes a Man Start Fires"" one of the milestones in their career (next to [b]Double Nickels on the Dime[b]). But as many overlooked albums go, Buzz makes up for its lack of attention by basically making the first masterpiece for the Minutemen.
The record begins with "Self Referenced", a fast and angry song, with guitars lines that make the fretboard sound like it's on fire. D. Boon yells the lyrics over his clangy guitar and the incredible rhythm section of Mike Watt (bass) and George Hurley (drums). The song ends upruptly and goes straight into "Cut". Mike Watt wrote and sang the song, and his lyrics show his incredible imagination. While D. Boon wrote anthemic, political tunes, Make Watt's lyrics tended to be on the edge of absurdity and the edge of intellectualism, making Mike Watt kind of like a Working Man's Chomsky. D. Boons’ guitar work is, as always, great, giving an interesting, yet simple guitar line, that cuts through your eardrums when played loud enough. The next song is one of my favorite Minutemen songs ever recorded. "Dreams told by Moto", opens with a nice bass and drum lines, before the jazzy guitar hits a few notes. D. Boon does a killer job on Watt's lyrics, and the rhythm section keeps the song going in a very jazzy way.
The next song ("Dreams are Free Mother*******!") is a jam probably used to show virtuosity of the members, especially Boon and Watt, who continue to burn the fretboard, as George tends to beat his bass drum and try to keep some sort of beat. The next song is also a jam, "The Toe Jam", only it has some type of structure. The band plays a jazzy little beat while Kim Gordon (bassistsinger of Sonic Youth) ad libs some poem about getting married with a ring on her toe. Some people in the background (probably George, Mike and D) laugh as the song comes to an end.
"I Felt Like a Gringo" is a very funky song with one of the many killer beats by D. Boon, and it has some of Georges best drumming on the album. Boon also showcases something I admired most abut his playing, which was how he palm muted on the high notes, something I hadn’t heard before or since. Its ultra fast, always sounds like its ready to explode at any given moment. For the first time, Mike Watt tends to follow the guitar on this track, tending not to jump out and take the front stage. "The Product" follows, showing a quasi Country feel to the song with warbling vocals by Boon, and a very bluesy bass line by Mike Watt. It's a memorable track but not the best, because the best is the next one. "Little Man With a Gun In His Hand" is the most traditional rock song on the album, but it's one of the most intense songs they ever made. The swift guitar line builds up with some cymbals until the song goes full steady. The soft, emotional vocals by D. Boon, with a steady background, slowly build up until there is a soft interlude that is followed by an angry guitar line that gets softer and softer and then Boon softly murmurs "Little Man with a gun in his hand", and then screams the same line over and over again against the angry Guitar, Bass, and Drums until it fades into the same intro. The song ends only to be brought up again with some studio talk (Boon says "Is that Good Enough") and then BAM! everything crashes and the song and record ends fantastically.
Even though the record was released before their best record, in my opinion, What Makes a Man start Fires"
, it still proves to be one of the bands best works and definitely their most underrated.