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Contemplating the Engine Room [Enhanced]

Mike WattAudio CD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Amazon Price New from Used from
MP3 Music, 15 Songs, 1997 $9.99  
Audio CD, Enhanced, 1997 --  
Audio Cassette, 1997 --  

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Frequently Bought Together

Contemplating the Engine Room + The Secondman's Middle Stand + Ball-Hog Or Tugboat
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 7, 1997)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Enhanced
  • Label: Columbia
  • ASIN: B000002BY8
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #40,697 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. In The Engine Room
2. Red Bluff
3. The Bluejackets' Manual
4. Pedro Bound!
5. The Boilerman
6. Black Gang Coffee
7. Topsiders
8. No One Says Old Man (To The Old Man)
9. Fireman Hurley
10. Liberty Calls!
11. In The Bunk Room/Navy Wife
12. Crossing The Equator
13. Breaking The Choke Hold
14. Wrapped Around The Screw
15. Shore Duty
16. Non-Audio Content

Editorial Reviews

Product Description


On former Minutemen and Firehose bassist Mike Watt's second "solo" outing (he's joined by guitarist Nil Cline and drummer Stephen Hedges), the idea of a punk-rock opera (his words) or concept album (critic's term) doesn't seem so outrageous. Paying homage to his dad's life on the San Pedro, California, waterfront and to the late D. Boon, the now quasi-mythic Minutemen singer-guitarist, Watt covers as much musical ground as he does personal history. Solid tracks such as "Black Gang Coffee" and "The Blue Jackets Manual" are fine nods to the playful punk punch of the Minutemen, and chiming guitars with a sea-shanty feel permeate "In the Engine Room." A churning psychedelic energy drives "Liberty Calls," while "Breaking the Choke Hold" serves as a contemplative and sad farewell. A pleasant, intimate listening experience, all told. --Lorry Fleming

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Get Yer Fix April 9, 2001
Format:Audio CD
As a Minutemen/fIREHOSE/Mike Watt junky, this review is probably long over due. I really want to give it 4 1/2 stars, but more on that in a second.
So, what is this album? A tribute to certain influences that have made a great muscians life. Namely, his father, D. Boon and the weird little hamlet of San Pedro, California. With a much belated nod to the great George Hurely. It is also a punk-rock opera with Nels and Steve Hodges providing very inspired music to Watt's bi-polar bass lines.
Musicly, it covers a large spectrum. The Blue Jackets Manual is a powerful ode to his father's days in the Navy. Crazy thumping bass that sometimes chirps as well as beautiful guitar work by the abovementioned Nels Cline. Then you get something like No One Says Old Man (To The Old Man) which is as mellow as anything and seems to hint a little bit at Watt's Masonic connections (I don't know either, but it comes up from time to time in his songs. See Mr. Machinery Operator). My favorite has to be Liberty Calls! which is just as manic and brilliant as anything Watt has done. Fireman Hurely is a cool tune, too. Especially if you are a fan of Georgies.
This is a great album to put on at a reasonable volume and enjoy with a good red wine and a pack of cigarettes. Surprising, yet familiar all at once. Is it as flat out rock as Ball Hog or Tugboat? No, And cleary, I don't think Watt wanted it that way. Do some of the tunes go a little spacey and sound very Dos inflected? Yes, but, this is an album which is meant to be taken in its entirerty, not a song at a time. Enjoy!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars set the space for an explorative course February 13, 2002
Format:Audio CD
An album of shifting depths, not unlike the waters of this nautical-themed offering from Mike Watt--Contemplating the Engine Room. given as I've had more time than usual to whirl this disk, I've been given the allowance to hear its musical definition. Along with Watt's gruff yet emotive delivery there are personal (That's Watt's father on the cover) and instructive naval motifs. Songs like The Boiler Man, In The engine Room, Black Gang Coffee, No One Says Old Man (To the Old Man), Red Bluff, and Pedro Bound particularly set the space for an explorative course.
Watt handles thump staff and spiel as well, Nels Cline is on guitars and Stephen Hodges plays drums. They create a roving, discursive sound that achieves a definitive atmosphere. Like waves, their sound washes around you in different ways each time. A stellar album.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly original masterpiece by a punk original August 12, 2007
Format:Audio CD
With the Green Day American Idiot 'concept album' hype finally dead, now is the time to pick up one of the truly great records of the last 10+ years.

Mike Watt is an original in what has become a genre of copycats. While young 'punks' look to find their new heroes in Seventeen magazine, old schoolers like Watt continue to break the barriers of what punk music is all about. But this is nothing new for Mike. The avant-garde So-Cal trio, Minutemen, is one of the gems from the 80's punk movement (back when it was a movement). Biting political commentary, funny and introspective housed inside songs rarely longer than 1 minute, the Minutemen should long be remembered.

Even Watt's lesser project, fIREHOSE, and the somewhat erratic first solo effort (Ball Hog or Tugboat?) is far more interesting than anything you could possibly find on the radio today.

But Watt may have finally outdone himself with this slab. Teaming up with one of the most fascinating and fantastic guitar players, Nels Cline, Watt enriches us with a tale of family history, youth, friendship, sorrow and San Pedro. Although all of his records have been dedicated to D. Boon, this one is clearly the most deserving.

The songs are completely original. At times the record rolls like a freight train with the powerful opening number and Bluejacket's Manual. Yet, it also creates moments of a lighter canvas with the bluegrass infused Red Bluff.

As great as Mike is at his craft (that would be the thunderbroom or bass if you prefer), he is more concerned with creating an emotional connection with his audience than providing fancy riffing. In fact, it is Nels Cline and his imaginitive guitar playing that gets the nod for the best individual work on this album.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Three different journeys at once November 3, 2006
By Ben
Format:Audio CD
This is an album worth getting to know. Pieces will stick in your head after a few listens. This trio playing on the album really make interesting use of space and texture while backing up Mike Watt's surreal, yet heartfelt story-telling. Nels Cline's guitar-playing adds a fervor to the rhythm skeletons who sway and dance from song to song. The percussion is full of dramatic nuances and emulations of ship sounds and other bells and whistles. Very solid. This all adds up to a theme, and a very interesting one indeed. Listen for the subtle musical references from old Minutemen (Watt's initial band) songs and riffs. Characters from that era are referenced from that era, as well: particularly the great D. Boon. Give this one a chance and enjoy!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, diverse and thouroughly enjoyable! February 11, 1999
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
I have always thought that Mr. Watt is one of the best bassists around and this album solidified my judgement. It's amazing that he could write so many songs all on the same topic and have them all turn out so well. I am fully satisfied with this release and am awaiting his next project. (P.S. can't help but think that the picture of Mike inside resembles an older Captain Kirk)
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Something this ethereal from Mike Watt shows that he is more than just...
I always gravitated to the more "artsy" side of punk music, DK's, Sonic Youth, the ska crossover acts, etc... Read more
Published 6 months ago by u573jr83e93832je9303
2.0 out of 5 stars Not really getting it.
I picked this up because Nels Cline plays on it. The first listen probably won't lead to a second.It really is not that interesting,at all.
Published on April 6, 2009 by Emery Bong
4.0 out of 5 stars Unexpectedly charming
This album caught me by surprise with its charm. The songs are short and interesting (Nels Cline is a surperbly original guitarist), and the personal nature of the songs is... Read more
Published on March 1, 2003 by Anthony Cooper
5.0 out of 5 stars This is Something Else!
I remember opening the door to a friend's house one night in '86 and staring at Fidel Castro on the porch. Read more
Published on March 8, 2001 by Stephen
5.0 out of 5 stars watt carries the torch
Though the timeless music of the minutemen can never be duplicated, mike watt carries on. This album shows mikes ability to sing as well as play the thunderbroom. Read more
Published on November 22, 1998
5.0 out of 5 stars Best since Double...Dime
Beautiful and intelligent album. That this did not make top ten lists for '97 is industry snafu. So few musicians can rock and be literate at the same time. Read more
Published on October 28, 1998
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
This album is simply amazing. It took me a few listens, but once I got into the story and understood the piece I couldn't stop listening to it. Read more
Published on October 9, 1998
5.0 out of 5 stars The Watt CD We Had Been Waiting For
He's done it this time. Mike Watt has really done it. He's gone and captured the arc of life in the day of Watt--from early morning waking coffee beans and bike ridin' anthem rock... Read more
Published on July 21, 1998 by Tim Hoffman (
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