We Jam Econo: The Story of the Minutemen

We Jam Econo: The Story of the Minutemen

Hey, it’s fucking great! Here’s an attempt at a review. Do you want more?

We Jam Econo: the story of the Minutemen is a great film. If you like the music you’ll probably enjoy this. Lots of performance footage. I never saw them live and was slow to pick up on their music but I loved Double Nickels on the Dime (1984). The song lyrics “Let the products sell themselves, fuck advertising, commercial psychology, psychological methods to sell should be destroyed,” always made me laugh at work as an ad layout guy at a newspaper.

Paranoid Time was their first EP and it was SST002, the release after SST001 Black Flag’s Nervous Breakdown. This is something I didn’t know. The dude at Zed Records advised me to buy Nervous Breakdown, he didn’t say anything about the Minutemen. I blame that fucker for my missing out on the band until much later.

The movie has lots of great stories about the band and the band members, D. Boon, Mike Watt and George Hurley. The cinematography is very matter of fact: sitting around with Mike in his living-room talking, driving around with Mike. Combined with the live footage, including getting spit on by the crowd (that rain of spit used to be a punk rock show standard – somebody in the film talks about how the band members were always catching colds). I forgot about that. The movie feels like a pretty honest portrait of the band.

Strange to see Mike Watt as a middle aged man driving around in a van talking about the old days looking like my dad, well, like a friend of my dad’s actually. Okay to be truthful, looking like the old guy, I have become. He relates lots of great material that I knew and forgot. Stories, explanations, D Boon’s philiosophy of the band: that working people should be able to go to a show, so let’s play in the neighborhood and not charge too much. Ironically it is a deluxe 2 DVD set but maybe $19 from Amazon isn’t too bad. Additional materials include videos and an extended version of an interview used throughout the film, a booklet with photos. second disc contains footage of 62 songs from three gigs. I didn’t count them, that’s what it says on the box. One of the videos uses clips from a Ronald Reagan film where he’s a WW2 fighter pilot dropping bombs and strafing the band.

Interesting cast of characters give testimonials – various SST artists and industry figures talk about the band and the music and how weird it was to hear this stuff when you had a certain expectation about what punk rock was.

Watt provides lots of insight into why different things were done but if you don’t like old punks telling you how it was, you should probably give this one a miss. But if you are a youngster who is sincerely interested in punk rock as a mode of artistic expression, sit down and shut up, you might learn something.

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