Friday, May 7, 2010

411. Double Nicklels on the Dime. Fast music that obeys speed limits.


Album: Double Nickels on the Dime.
Artist: The Minutemen.
Year: 1984.
Genre: Punk

Tracks
  1. "D.'s Car Jam"
  2. "Anxious Mo-Fo"
  3. "Theatre Is the Life of You"
  4. "Viet Nam"
  5. "Cohesion"
  6. "It's Expected I'm Gone"
  7. "#1 Hit Song"
  8. "Two Beads at the End"
  9. "Do You Want New Wave or Do You Want the Truth?"
  10. "Shit from an Old Notebook"
  11. "Nature Without Man"
  12. "One Reporter's Opinion"
  13. "Mike's Car Jam"
  14. "Political Song for Michael Jackson to Sing"
  15. "Maybe Partying Will Help"
  16. "Toadies"
  17. "Retreat"
  18. "The Big Foist"
  19. "God Bows To Math"
  20. "Corona"
  21. "The Glory of Man"
  22. "Take 5, D."
  1. "My Heart and the Real World"
  2. "History Lesson - Part II"
  3. "George's Car Jam"
  4. "You Need the Glory"
  5. "The Roar of the Masses Could be Farts"
  6. "West Germany"
  7. "The Politics of Time"
  8. "Themselves"
  9. "Please Don't Be Gentle With Me"
  10. "Nothing Indeed"
  11. "No Exchange"
  12. "There Ain't Shit on T.V. Tonight"
  13. "This Ain't No Picnic"
  14. "Spillage"
  15. "Three Car Jam"
  16. "Untitled Song for Latin America"
  17. "Jesus and Tequila"
  18. "June 16th"
  19. "Storm in My House"
  20. "Martin's Story"
  21. "The World According to Nouns"
  22. "Love Dance"

Another album and another entry by a seminal punk group who only fans of seminal punk have ever heard of. The minutemen don't get commercial airplay, aren't stopped on the streets by starry-eyed celebrity spotters and are unlikely to have their song catalogue pillaged for a Broadway musical. But for a certain type of person they're the greatest thing in music and the fact that hardly anyone else thinks so only confirms their belief. My tastes in the seminal run more towards seminal hippies then seminal punks so I didn't know anything much about the Minutemen before I put this album in. But in reading up about them I was immediately predisposed to like them because we shared something in common- a mutual loathing of Sammy Hagar.

Sammy Hagar is best known for becoming David Lee Roth's replacement in Van Halen but before he superimposed his massive ego onto that already self-indulgent edifice of modern rock he was a writer of protest songs. He set out to address the wrongs of the world and put right injustice wherever he saw it. So what was it that got Sammy riled? What inspired Mr Hagar to pen his greatest masterwork? Poverty? War? Environmental destruction? No, Sammy's big protest song is called I Can't Drive 55 and documents his indignation at the new driving laws which forbid him from accelerating his souped up penis-compensator over 55 Miles Per Hour on American highways. Yeah, go Sammy Go! Write the wrongs then right the wrongs!

I've always thought Hagar was fairly pathetic and it turns out I'm not the only one. The Minutemen decided Sammy was a git and dedicated this album to their resentment. The title apparently refers to driving at 55mph (the "double nickles" are two 5's and the "dime" is the speedometer). I'd like to say that the album is basically a dedication to the joys of obeying traffic laws with titles like "Stop! in the name of life," "giving way to you" "Speed hump me baby" and "I took the right turn when I turned right with you." Sadly this is not the case. The actual content of the album seems more inspired by The Clash's Sandanista than anything else. Like the Clash the Minutemen decided to throw pretty much everything at the album and create a monster-sized slab of eclectic. Unlike Sandanista however the experimentation isn't quite as adventurous and the results aren't as successful. They may toy with other influences but there isn't enough straying from the straight ahead punk song to give Two Nickels the lunatic charm of Sandanista. Of course in their defence the Minutemen weren't blessed with the Budget and record label backing that the Clash enjoyed.

Proof, if any were needed, of the Minutemen's lack of budget can be seen on the Video clip for This Aint No Picnic which you can watch on youtube, and a recommend you do. Picnic features the band performing amongst the wreckage of a disused building along with stock footage of an old Ronald Reagan movie in which he plays a World War Two bomber pilot. Thanks to clever editing the finished clip features the then President of the United States machine gunning the Minutemen before dropping a bomb on them but failing to deter them from playing the music they love. It's a clever clip and it shows off everything their fans love about The Minutemen- they're unpretentious, inexpensive and definitely don't have mainstream looks.

I'm not joining the legion of Minutemen fan any time soon but I can see why their devotees like them. If you like quick punk with a sense of humour you might want to become a fan, chances are you'll double their fanbase size in your own town if you do.

Highlight: This Aint no Picnic.
Lowlight: The 34 songs it takes to get to hear This Aint No Picnic.

Influenced by: The Ramones. The Clash.
Influenced: Henry Rollins.

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "OK I JUST WANT 2 NO HOW THIS MUSIC IS SUPOSED 2 BE PUNK CUZ IT AINT. THERE ARE A LOT OF SONGZ ON HERE BUT THA PROBLEM IS THEY ALL SOUND THA SAME AND THEY AINT EVEN PUNK THEY SOUND LIKE ALTRENATIVE OR SOMETHING. THIS CD'S GOT MORE SONGS THAN ANY OTHER CD I OWN BUT I STILL CANT FIND 1 SONG I LIKE ON IT. IF U PPL THINK U CAN HANDLE TRU HARDCORE PUNK THEN CHECK OUT OLD KORN AND LIMP BIZKIT P.O.D. OR STAIND. "

-I hardly need tell you that this review made some people on amazon a wee bit tetchy.

So would are double nickels on the dime a bargain or 60 seconds too long. Let me know below.

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