3-Way Tie (For Last)
SST Records, 1985
REVIEW BY: Sean McCarthy
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 06/21/1997
Thanks to Eddie Vedder, the Minutemen are enjoying a second wave of success. In 1995, Vedder joined former Minutemen bassist Mike Watt on a couple of tour dates. Unfortunately, the media chased Vedder once they got word of the small club tour. Fortunately, it brought back the legacy of a great trio, capable of writing politically charged rock and punk anthems.
It's probably safe to assume the Minutemen were never fit for rock star status. But the tragic death of singer D. Boon in a car accident and their last album they made in the studio, 3-Way Tie(For Last) makes you wonder what the band may have accomplished after this great release. (The Minutemen did release one more album, Ballot Result, but it was more of a greatest hits, chosen by the fans in true anti-rock star splendor.)
Unlike harder edged indie rockers Husker Du and Black Flag, the Minutemen had an amazing ability to bring mainstream music into their underground world. A good example of this is the rockabilly swagger of "The Big Stick." They also do a great, grunge cover of CCR's hit "Have You Ever Seen The Rain."
Proudly activists, the Minutemen's lyrics were both insightful and funny. The anti-war rants of "The Price Of Paradise" and "The Big Stick" may not have the lyric complexity of their relaized masterpiece Double Nickels On The Dime, but they still rock with conviction. Best way to describe the lyric quality is like listening to a brilliant, well read, passionate activist.....who's currently tanked on whiskey and gin.
Musically, the Minutemen prove why trios usually tend to rock more than a four piece. Drummer George Hurley never shows off,.but his pop smarts are evident in tracks like "Courage". D. Boon effortlessly plays both acoustic and electric guitar on "The Big Stick", with a finess that matches fellow SSTer Bob Mould of Husker Du. And bassist Mike Watt shows he can play at any tempo and fit a great bass riff to any of the style that the Minutemen explore on 3-Way Tie (For Last). He even does a nice, dark vocal delivery of "Spoken Word Piece".
3-Way Tie (For Last) may be a better starting point for a newcomer to the Minutemen. In true punk fashion, the album clocks in at less than 40 minutes. And with 16 tracks, if you don't like one, don't sweat it, in less than two minutes it will end. "Hitting The Bong" and "Bermuda" end this one on a slightly weak note. Though the recording through the phone deliverance of "Bermuda" has since been perfected by bands like The Beastie Boys and Sonic Youth, it still sounds fresh.
Unpretensious, intelligent and just plain kick ass, 3-Way Tie (For Last) serves as a nice requiem for D. Boon. Thankfully, Hurley and Watt decided to disband and persue their solo interests. While Watt went on to form fIREHOSE, his best material may still be yet to come in his solo projects. In the meantime, check out 3-Way Tie (For Last), then go buy Double Nickels On The Dime.....now.