Skip navigation

Picking up where the first volume left off, Post-Mersh, Vol. 2 contains the Minutemen’s 1983 Buzz or Howl Under the Influence of Heat LP and the 1985 Project Mersh EP.

What Makes a Man Start Fires? marked a real step forward for the Minutemen, and while Double Nickels on the Dime was where the group would reach their peak, there were plenty of signs pointing to that album’s diverse brilliance on this eight-song EP. While “Dreams Are Free, Motherfucker!” and “The Toe Jam” are goofy, noisy throwaways (hey, this was a EP sandwiched between albums), the rest of the songs found the band consolidating their strengths and growing even tighter and more confident. “I Felt Like a Gringo” and “Cut” merge funky rhythms with a punk rocker’s sense of concision, “Self Referenced” and “The Product” reveal how far this band’s writing had progressed since The Punch Line, and “Little Man With a Gun in His Hand” showed the Minutemen could reduce the tempo and the volume and still create stunning music. It’s hard to think of a stronger rhythm section in an independent band in the 1980s than Mike Watt and George Hurley, and D. Boon was by any standards a superb guitarist, with smarts, style, and a keen sense of how to edit himself. Buzz or Howl Under the Influence of Heat remains a superb record from a band just edging into greatness.

“I got it! We’ll have them write hit songs!” some nameless record company executive says in the cover painting to the Minutemen’s 1985 EP Project Mersh, and that joke covers about half of the record’s formula. While the Minutemen had been writing more melodic and approachable songs with each release, the massive barrage of 90-to-180-second songs on the epic Double Nickels on the Dime was at once an embarrassment of riches and a bit much for a casual listener to chew on. So for this tongue-in-cheek experiment in making a “commercial” (or “mersh”) recording, D. Boon and Mike Watt wrote a few actual three-minute-plus rock tunes, complete with verses and choruses and melodic hooks. On top of that, the band made a game stab at cleaning up their act in the studio; while hardly on the level of something Bob Ezrin or Richard Perry would come up with, Project Mersh boasts a good bit more polish than anything the band had released up to that point and even featured horn overdubs and keyboards on a few tracks. But the punch line was that the Minutemen had used all this fancy window dressing on songs that weren’t all that different from what they’d been doing all along — “The Cheerleaders” and “King of the Hill” are typically intelligent, clear-eyed polemics from Boon, and Watt’s “Tour-Spiel” is one punker’s bitterly funny ode to life on the road (it stands comfortably beside their cover of Steppenwolf’s variation on the same theme, “Hey Lawdy Mama”). While the Minutemen were a band that followed their own creative path from the beginning to the end, Project Mersh made clear they could have followed a more easily traveled road and still made good music with plenty to say.

-Mark Deming,

Minutemen-POST-MERSH, VOL. 2 (1987 compilation)


  1. bad link

  2. no it’s fine, it was just up for half a minute before the link started working

  3. good linkgreat link

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: