We Jam Econo: The Story of the Minutemen – DVD
The Minutemen were a very huge part of my early teenage punk rock years in the 1980s. I first heard the song, “Paranoid Chant” on The Blasting Concept compilation on SST and was completely enamored by it and went out and bought every Minutemen record that existed at the time, and then every one that was released since. Songs like “Little Man with a Gun in His Hand” went on every mix tape I would make as soundtracks for skateboarding with my friends back then. One of the regrets I have in life was not going to see The Minutemen play a show at Cabaret Metro with Samhain. I don’t know why I didn’t go, either no ride or something, but I recall thinking “I’ll go see those bands next time they come to town”. Well Samhain broke up and D. Boon was killed in a car accident and the Minutemen were no more. The closest thing I’ll ever have to seeing what the Minutemen were like live is through video and that brings me to this DVD.
Last fall I went to see this movie, a documentary on this legendary punk rock band, in the theatre and was very impressed with it. It turns out I wasn’t the only one this band meant a lot to, they were hugely influential to a whole lot of punks and musicians alike. Thankfully someone decided a documentary should be made on this, one of the most unique bands to come out of the punk rock scene. This DVD compiles the documentary that made its way through theaters in a small run, plus so much more.
The main feature of course in the documentary, it tells the story of the band from the beginning to the end. It weaves together current interview footage of Mike Watt and George Hurley, the two surviving members of the band, with old interview and live footage of the band in their heyday, as well as modern day interviews with musicians and artists either associated with the punk scene at the time, or who were somehow influenced by the Minutemen in some capacity. Some interview subjects include Ian Mac Kaye, Henry Rollins, Chuck Dukowski, nearly all of Saccharine Trust, Dez Cadena, Milo Aukerman, Byron Coley, Thurston Moore and tons more. It starts off with a modern day Mike Watt giving the interviewer a tour of San Pedro and reflecting back to how he met his best friend and band mate D. Boon while showing you key places in their growing up as teenagers and as musicians. The entire story is a fascinating one, even to a casual fan. One of the common threads among all these different people speaking about the band was the Minutemen were unique and were something very special, not just their music but their friendship and the bond those three guys shared. It is also quite evident that two decades after his tragic passing, D. Boon is still sorely missed by everyone, especially his band mates and best friends, who still get choked up talking about his passing.
The documentary is around an hour and a half long. The time whizzes by so fast while watching it you’d think it was a lot shorter. It is that captivating of a story! When it’s done, you’ll have a much better understanding of what the band was all about and you really get a feel for what talented, unique, good people those three guys are and were and how special their band was.
The DVD is packed with extras too as it is a two disc set. Aside from the main feature on disc one, you also get a whole bunch of deleted scenes and outtakes. There is some really interesting stuff here including Spot digging out a box he has of old pressing plates for early SST records including the first Minutemen EP! There is also the music videos for “This Ain’t No Picnic”, “Ack Ack Ack Ack”, and “King of the Hill”. Only one of those had I seen before on an episode of MTV’s 120 Minutes back in the day, the other two I didn’t even know existed until seeing them on this DVD. The entire uncut 1985 Bard College interview, much of which was used as part of this film, rounds out the rest of this disc.
The second disc contains three different live shows, portions of which were used in the documentary, but on this disc you get pretty much the full set for each one. There is one from the 9:30 Club in 1984, one from The Starwood in 1980, and one acoustic set labeled “Acoustic Blowout” from Hollywood in 1985. All the footage looks quite good and sounds pretty good too and it really was salt in the wound I have for not going to see them play back when I had the chance. They were incredibly energetic live. The three shows combined run well over an hour. There is also a really nice booklet inside with photos, liner notes, producer’s notes and credits.
Anyone who is a fan of the Minutemen is urged to get this DVD, it is mandatory owning. Anyone who may only know them by name or have heard of them, this is not only a fine introduction to them but it also tells the story of who and why they were, and would be an interesting watch even if you weren’t a fan. This DVD is easily going down as the best music-related DVD of the year and the people behind it should be commended for doing such a great and important band justice with a job well done.
Order the DVD from amazon.com