It was clear that The Minutemen reached their creative peak with their third studio album Double Nickels on the Dime
. Not only did they expand their already growing musical diversity, but they showed their ability to play songs longer than a minute, and can compile an album of more than 20 songs and 20 minutes in length. Double Nickels on the Dime
took the bands signature hardcore punk roots, and mixed it with their expanding funk influences as well as R&B, rockabilly and even adding a Spanish guitar instrumental. But not only did they expand their music portion, but lyrically as well, furthering their political lyrics with hints of humorous metaphors, and also autobiographical stories. By this point, The Minutemen were a well known and leading band in the Californian punk scene and were beginning to gain attention outside the loop, which included college radio air play, and touring outside of the state. 3-Way Tie (For Last), sadly, would be the last the band would record before D Boon's death in December of 1985.
is a very different album from any of their previous efforts, not only Double Nickels on the Dime, but their debut The Punch Line and follow up What Makes a Man Start Fires. The first thing that is noticeable is that there are only sixteen songs, which is an average or even above average amount for the average band, but not for the Minutemen. From the opening track The Price of Paradise
it seems as though the Minutemen slowed down things and took a more melodic approach. The song is unlike almost anything they have ever done before. D Boon still has his traditional hard hitting vocal sound but sings much more in tone making for a nice opening mid-tempo rock song. Lost
, a Meat Puppets cover, opens up similar too the opener; not a hard feel of older days, but mellower feel driven by a clean guitar riff and Boons tamed vocals. It is the first on the album though, where Hurley really shows what he can do.
The band continued to write songs that go past the one minute mark with songs like The Price of Paradise
, No One
, and The Red and the Black
all reaching over three minutes and the latter surpassing even four minutes. But there always will be those typical fun thirty-fifty second punk songs the Minutemen do well. Hittin' the Bong
will give a first impression of a fun song and it flies by at forty one seconds. Ack Ack Ack
, a Urinals cover, is a twenty seven second anti-war punk song reminiscent of their early days, led by Hurley's assaulting drum rolls. Spoken War Piece
is the strangest song on here, if you can even call it a song. It is actually a Vietnam battlefield war tape that runs for just over a minute and ends with the sound of guns shooting making for an almost haunting track. Political Nightmare
is another interesting song. It is almost entirely instrumental with the exception of a few words here and there by Boon, but the instrumental portion is some of the best here. It brings back the heavy punk sound, but also adds hints of hard rock and even metal making for one of the best here. No One
, one of the three songs co-written by Black Flag bassist Kira Roessler, is another punk song in which is put together nicely and is even complimented better by Boon's remarkable guitar solo. Roessler also co-wrote the songs Stories
and What Is It
Cover songs play a huge part of the album and one of the key signatures to 3-Way Tie (For Last)
. Perhaps the most famous cover here is a take on Creedence Clearwater Revival's popular song Have You Ever Seen the Rain?
It is personally one of my favorite compositions the band has done, or at least my favorite cover of theirs. It doesn't sound drastically different from the original, but gives the Minutemen's own take on things, and Boon sings it quite well. The Red and the Black
is cover of a Blue Oyster Cult tune. It would explain why it is one of the heaviest almost heavy songs on the album, given the band that BOC was. Mike Watt takes lead vocals here making for a pleasant change of pace. Boon's solo is by far the best here, and one of his best ever; the song is a highlight based on the solo alone while Mike Watt's bass solo is one of his best. song has a very energetic feel and is a compliment to the album. The Meat Puppets' Lost
is done well also, but not as much as the previous ones. And lastly the album closer Bermuda
is the last cover song originally done by 13th Floor Elevators. The Big Stick, a political song, is one of the best acoustic pieces the band has done and contrary to the lyrics has an upbeat feel to most of the song. What Is It
is another semi-acoustic song with the effective use of Spanish guitar, something that the Minutemen have experimented with before. It is also noteworthy that Mike Watt delivers one of his best bass performances here. He shines though on this album as he always has. He is in my opinion and many others one of the best bassists in punk.
The Minutemen's final album 3-Way Tie (For Last)
can be seen as a fitting album to end off. It is not their best album, as Double Nickels clearly takes that, but a strong album. It shows more of a melodic softer side of the band but still shows some hard punk songs that they were known for in their earliest days, even if they are limited. It doesn't have as much as a funk or R&B feel, but makes up for it in other ways. The Minutemen truly stood out from every counterpart in California and this is just one album that shows why. If you are just getting into the Minutemen, this probably wouldn't be the best place to start, but soon after, it would be a good purchase.
Have You Ever Seen The Rain?
The Big Stick
The Red And The Black
The Price Of Paradise