Minutemen: Double Nickels On The Dime (1984)

When I joined the college radio station back in 84/85, Double Nickels On The Dime was one of the recent releases preached as gospel by the DJ crowd.  While they (and soon we) railed against the mandatory classic rock canon foisted on listeners by the rest of the FM dial, we were pretty adamant that indie rock fans needed to subscribe to our own canon -- at the time meaning R.E.M., the Replacements, Hüsker Dü, Sonic Youth... and the Minutemen.

Of all these, Minutemen were the one that took the longest to take hold for me.  They were just too... weird, I guess.  Unexpected.  Double Nickels was a sprawling double album, nearly 50 songs, though most checking in (per the band's name) at between a minute or two long.  They were political, angry, the prototypical punks.  But they didn't sound like punks; musically, they sounded more like jazz -- weird chords and time signatures, a brittle snare, powerful up-front bassline, clean guitar without a hint of distortion.  And they jammed... albeit jams generally lasting a few seconds.

But at some point the album did take, and become something I truly loved (or at least respected immensely); though even today, it's not an album I play that often, because it requires your attention.  Demands it.

Despite its sprawl and refusal to play by any recognized rules or conventions, this doesn't mean there aren't some terrific stand-alone songs that aren't self-limiting to the rock-snob DJ crowd.  There's the gorgeous, acoustic autobiography of "History Lesson Pt. 2"; the hugely catchy punk-pop of "Political Song for Michael Jackson to Sing"; the fun guitar riffage over spoken word rambling of "#1 Hit Song"; the latin-tinged party-rock of "Corona"; the frenetic fun of "My Heart And The Real World"; the straightforward punk rock of "This Ain't No Picnic."

But beyond the individual highlights, there is a cohesiveness that emerges from the crazed fast-paced variety, the unpredictable mess of punk and hardcore and funk and flamenco and jazz and classic rock, making the album a unique whole that simply sounds like nothing else out there.  It's definitely one of those "not for everyone" albums in my collection, but one that continues to impress me when I pull it out for one of those infrequent spins.

Here's an audio rip of "My Heart And The Real World":
...and an audio rip of "Political Song...":
Here's the video for "This Ain't No Picnic":
How about a live take on "History Lesson"?