On Dec. 22, 1985, Dennes Dale “D.” Boon, was killed in van accident in the Arizona desert. He was the guitarist and singer for the Minutemen, one of the very few punk bands you could call “the greatest” and not sound like a complete idiot. Indeed, the Minutemen were one of the best rock bands America ever produced, period.
For those who know their work, this is self-evident.
Over four albums (one of them a double), seven or eight (it’s complicated) EPs and a few collections, the Minutemen were total art and total activism boiling down the power trio to its bare essentials, ditching verse-chorus for blurts from the underground.
Blue-collar Commies from San Pedro, Calif., the Minutemen worked insanely hard all the time but made every second look like play. I am never, ever not energized by their music; it never fails to put me in a good mood or make me thing the unconquerable can be handled.
Boon’s impossibly trebly guitar (which he played with a frantic, jazzman fluidity), Mike Watt’s ductile bass and George Hurley’s skittering drum rolls smash into each other like gleeful bros in the world’s woke-est mosh pit. People talk about Watt and Hurley as punk’s all-time greatest rhythm section and that’s valid, but I also think it misses the point of their band-ness. They were an insanely democratic in both their move-as-a-unit playing and in their songcraft; everyone wrote for everyone else, including lyrics.
Here is a great performance of “The Anchor,” a song I need to hear about once every couple of months
After Boon’s death, Watt and Hurley played from 1986 to 1994 in the more straight-ahead fIREHOSE, then Watt started a solo career that continues to this day, playing under his own name and with various outfits. The 59-year old remains one of the hardest working punks in showbusiness.
Very little in their catalog has aged a day. If you know them, you know this. If you do not, I am jealous that you get to hear them for the first time.
To listen the Minutemen is to think that being in a rock band is the most honorable profession in the world and this band was the most honorable of all.