12 August 2009

Another Slice of American Underground 1980s - Minutemen

Another nostalgic trip while reading Azerrad's book concurrently with my current obsession with the Buttholes is the Minutemen. A totally different ballgame in terms of sound, aesthetics and image when placed next to the Surfers; Minutemen embodied the quintessential qualities of hard work, down-to-earthness, from-the-heart kind of honesty and directness - in other words, they were the salt of the earth.

Their funk/punk/jazz concoction across the various singles, EPs and LPs in the early/mid 1980s were breaths of fresh air in the increasingly stultified American hardcore scene where only skinheads, rapid-fire four-to-the-floor tom thumps and blitzkrieg guitars and army commander barks were acceptable norms. D Boon, M. Watts and G. Hurley refused to play the hardcore prescribed formula but instead went for a didactic approach with brain-provoking lyrics and unconventional but still powerful and angry song structures, which still manage to swing!

Watching the Minutemen DVD (if you can grab it, an invaluable document of the band and about the 1980s underground which was released a few years ago) brought back more memories of the good old days of pre-Alternative Rock era as the director of the documentary interviewed Henry Rollins/Chuck Dukowski from Black Flag, Joe Baiza from Saccharine Trust, Thurston Moore/Lee Ranaldo from Sonic Youth, Byron Coley and various other underground luminaries from the 1980s. Interjected with loads of Minutemen gig footages from their earlier days to their demise after the car wreck which ended D Boon's short but powerful life just made me pine for a rock hero of the 21st century. M Watts's heartfelt thoughts, reflections and eulogy to the band and D Boon somehow, made me realised that most likely, the spirit of the 1980s underground will not repeat itself again now and in the near future. The polarised dichotomy between underground and mainstream seems to be lost in the consciousness of the people today as with MP3 downloads, what difference does it make?

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