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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Organs and surgery
Great to have a new Watt album. If you've not bought any of his solo stuff, you should realize that they're amazing albums, being somewhat neglected by the herd in general, but as strong and exciting as anything being done in the world o' rock today (which is generally a graveyard, but still). However, you should probably start with his guest-star-studded BALL HOG or, for...
Published on September 11, 2004 by Allan MacInnis

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I love Watt, but do I love his perineum?
Watt's third solo thing definitely finds his chops undiminished: this time fronting an organ/drums combo, his bass does double duty as a lead and harmony instrument, while Pete Mazich conjurs a stunning array of textures and sounds from the B3. The more spacious, modal sections tell the world that Watt's got Coltrane's "Love Supreme" on his turntable non-stop...
Published on August 24, 2004 by Leopold Stotch


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I love Watt, but do I love his perineum?, August 24, 2004
By 
Leopold Stotch (Square Nut, Montana, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Secondman's Middle Stand (Audio CD)
Watt's third solo thing definitely finds his chops undiminished: this time fronting an organ/drums combo, his bass does double duty as a lead and harmony instrument, while Pete Mazich conjurs a stunning array of textures and sounds from the B3. The more spacious, modal sections tell the world that Watt's got Coltrane's "Love Supreme" on his turntable non-stop. Instrumentally, this is a mighty disk...and yet...

Lyrically it's a tougher sell: the album is a conceptual work about the awful abcess that infected his perineum, and burst, leading to very, very dire flu-like symptoms that consumed our poor Watt. He emerged healthy, but atrophied somewhat, and a lot slimmer than we may remember him. I'm glad he recovered...but an entire album about this ordeal? Yes it was a life-changing event, but can it be related to an audience, no matter how devoted?

Alas, I don't think it can. Watt's last album took a very specific story (that of his father's trials in the Navy) and brilliantly telescoped it, using it to fashion parables that are relateable on many levels. This work is so Watt-centric that it's hard for me to find it relevant. And I'm a big fan. And while "Contemplating the Engine Room" ran on sing-song melodies that suited Watt's limited vocal range quite well, here he's shouting and pinching his voice oddly...perhaps another singer, one with more distance from the subject, could make this work better...

That being said, there's much to enjoy. Some of the lyrics are typically brilliantly, poetically Watt. As a whole, though, it's so inward-facing that it disconnects from the listener...as a love letter and a thank you note to those who helped him with his illness, it's wonderful. As an album, well...
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Organs and surgery, September 11, 2004
This review is from: The Secondman's Middle Stand (Audio CD)
Great to have a new Watt album. If you've not bought any of his solo stuff, you should realize that they're amazing albums, being somewhat neglected by the herd in general, but as strong and exciting as anything being done in the world o' rock today (which is generally a graveyard, but still). However, you should probably start with his guest-star-studded BALL HOG or, for something more Watt-centric, CONTEMPLATING THE ENGINE ROOM, both of which are really exciting discoveries and immediately strike you with their rightness and force. Newbies might want to hold off on this new one for a little bit, tho', unless there's some pressing need to know the songs before seeing a Watt gig: there are definitely things I like about this third solo disc (the use of organ as a lead instrument, say, which, I've decided after a few days, does sound pretty damn cool, if unusual -- anyone who likes organ in rock, even, uh, progrock fans, might find cause for delight here) but the first reaction is kinda one of puzzlement, because the subject matter is a little, uh, odd: this is a rock opera based on Watt's 2000 "internal abscess" in his perineum (which got very serious, because doctors missed it), his subsequent surgery, and recovery. There are a few references to Dante, but mostly this is a pretty personal document of something that most people...just...don't write rock operas about. (The one about his father had a universal appeal, because we all have fathers; maybe if I'd had surgery at some point I'd be more easily won here). Don't get me wrong, I kind of like it -- esp. the tunes "Pissbags and Tubing" and the nicely-textured "Pelicanman;" and musically one feels like it does WORK -- but I don't fully GET it as of yet; gonna be spinning it for awhile before I feel like I understand it. Maybe when I see it played live it'll all fall into place. Until then, if you know and love Watt's other two albums, you should by all means buy this, but don't expect it to sound like anything else you've heard by the guy before, and be prepared for the rather personal theme o' th' lyrics. Who knows, after 20 more listens it might become one of my favourite albums... (Post script, post-gig: on second thought, Watt knows we know him and he knows we care; why NOT trust something this intimate with us? Thanks, Mike, for treating us like friends instead of consumers; you're a beautiful person). (This is going to be, oddly, the most interesting album of the year for me... I can feel it now).
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not for the faint of heart ..., August 26, 2004
By 
Troy Collins (Lancaster, PA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Secondman's Middle Stand (Audio CD)
Erstwhile bassist of the legendary Minutemen and fIREHOSE continues his solo career with another autobiographical album. His third solo album, "The Secondman's Middle Stand" takes conceptual cues from his previous release, "Contemplating the Engine Room." This time out, Watt documents his recent near-fatal illness.

A misdiagnosed injury, an infected and burst perenium, almost bought Watt the farm back in 2001. Not easily daunted, Watt decided to use the experience as content for an album. While recovering from a bout with pneumonia in his 20s, Watt first read Dante's "Divine Comedy." During his current recovery he revisited it and decided that it was an apt allegory to his recent predicament.

Structurally, the album, like "The Inferno," is divided into three main sections: Hell, Purgatory and Heaven - three songs for each section, nine in all. Musically, "The Secondman's Middle Stand" is unlike anything Watt has previously attempted. Joined only by Hammond organ and drums, there is no guitar. Its presence is hardly missed, however. Since the Hammond can handle both chordal and bass note duties, this frees up Watt to do more lead work and vary his bass sound in new ways.

Sonically, the trio rumbles along like a veritable class in rock history. These three conjure up as much diversity of sound as Watt's debut solo album "Ball Hog or Tugboat" did with a cast of dozens. For example: "The Angels Gate" takes off like a punked up prog-rock take on Motorhead's "Ace of Spades." On the other hand, "Pluckin', Pedalin' and Paddlin" is about as down home folksy as you can get. In between these two extremes lies a cut like "Beltsandedman" with it's post-modern distorted modal drone and disassociated vocals.

The album's lyrical content is where potential trouble will lie for some. Considering it's very specific subject matter, it is as anatomically ripe as a Screamin' Jay Hawkins record. Although extremely catchy, some of the chorus' may have you wondering whether or not to sing along: "Piss Bags and Tubing" and "Puked To High Heaven" for example. Such very specific subject matter does not a universally enjoyable pop/rock record make, and if there is one flaw with this record it can be found here.

A diverse and fascinating document however, it seems a brave move on Watt's part to release this, and even braver on Columbia's. This album probably won't fly with everyone, and in a way seems custom designed for those already sold on Watt's art. No matter what you think of it, old school still makes good.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a joy to listen to, January 11, 2005
By 
77Jim (Philadelphia PA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Secondman's Middle Stand (Audio CD)
A long devoted fan of Mike Watt, I must admit I had some reservations when he dropped the guitars and started touring with simply drums, bass and organ. I've had the fortune of hearing this material live on his last three US tours so the songs on this record took little time to gel with me. This album in particular may take some time to grow on you though... as others have mentioned it plays like an abstract jazz record.

I was immediately taken by the subtle melodies and intricacies heard better on the CD versus the crowded punk rock clubs. There are little "happy organ riffs" and slap bass fills which remind me of some of the things I've loved about all of Watt's previous bands. Watt's cap tip to Dante's Inferno has both angelic melodies and rumbling anxiety.

This is an album about triumph in the face of darkness. It is a joy to listen to. God bless Mr. Watt.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Listen to this one., September 7, 2004
This review is from: The Secondman's Middle Stand (Audio CD)
Like all good albums- this one requires a few listenings. Watt wears J. Coltrane on his bass and himself. There is more to this musician than a quick amateur Amazon review can do justice.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Unexpected mid-life masterpiece... I love this album, October 20, 2004
This review is from: The Secondman's Middle Stand (Audio CD)
I don't know what it is that makes rockers so prone to mid-life slumpage: the 40's and 50's are the most productive periods for people working in other mediums... Anyways, due to a confessed age-ism, I'd always been a little wary of Watt solo projects; I loved the Minutemen, and I'd heard friends who'd seen his live shows, and who swore up and down that the man managed to make bass guitar a compelling lead insturment... That said, I heard 'Secondman's Middle Stand' from a friend who does a local college radio show, and I was actually floored: it was a wrenching, virtuoso album, perfectly sequenced, and dealing--obtusely--with mature subject matter in a way that's neither maudlin nor watered-down. A forty-something uncle of mine recently went through a bout of severe health problems like those which inspired Watt with this album, so I suppose this added a level of personal potency to it... At any rate, I suspect this album's glories are intact to any listener, personal baggage aside. Don't write off the old fart just yet.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One Of The Best Cd's Of 2004, September 2, 2004
By 
Horse Snakes (Portland, OR USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Secondman's Middle Stand (Audio CD)
At first I was a little skeptical of whether or not I'd dig this CD, but I was blown away as soon the band kicked in on the first song, and am still blown away throughout the whole CD, listen after listen. I can only imagine the hard work that went into the making of this album. Every song has some really tricky and challenging parts. I'm impressed that Watt was able to direct the other musicians so well. There was a ton of crazy stuff to memorize. Yeah, insane, creative, abstract, and quite thoughtful music, mostly upbeat, and a challenge I'm sure for the musicians themselves and yes, for the listeners, too. Nothin' wrong with that. As a huge fan of the guitarist's that Watt has had in the past, I can say that the organ player does such an incredible job that I don't miss hearing no guitar at all. Those that have problems with the singin' and subject matter, well, at least you can say that Watt's singing is unique, and personally I find it amazing that Watt was able to pull through this sickness that nearly killed him, and was able to write the most complex album of his career, go on to play bass around the world for Iggy And The Stooges, and still go on his semi-annual 2-month van tours with his band. I'm very impressed. What a great story, indeed!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, January 6, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Mike Watt is a legend this album proves his genius
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hoorah, October 30, 2004
This review is from: The Secondman's Middle Stand (Audio CD)
First off this is not your fathers rock opera however who would even expect that from mike watt in the first place. This nis the music Mr Watt was meant to make. HYe relives us of the frustration of the Minutmens one minute songs and intead takes the listern on fully a fully formed musical journy.

Its such a pleasure to see indie rocks first generation of stars are continuing to surprise and stimulate us... This album combined with sonic youths Sonjic Nurse (i think) qualifies 2004 as a fantastic year for vintage musicians!
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars antithesis?, November 22, 2005
By 
This review is from: The Secondman's Middle Stand (Audio CD)
Coming from Watt, the prophet of "jam econo," an album with only one song under 5 minutes seems..well, antithetical.

The long fade-outs ("Pelicanman" especially, which repeats the "blending, bending, never-ending" refrain already used in a couple songs from "Contemplating The Engine Room") are an oddity in the Watt canon.

In general, the songs never veer from their main motifs, again an anomaly in the usual jazz/folk/punk open canvas associated with Watt.

The rich potential of an organ-bass-drums trio is fairly unfulfilled. The arrangements and rhythms are pretty straight ahead, built mostly as a couch for songs that are long-winded by any previous Watt/fIREHOSE/Minutemen standards.

Recording this was probably a great way for Watt to get back on his feet after his illness, and as an autobiographical piece it should interest long-time fans. It doesn't connect with the same musical immediacy Watt's name usually conjures.
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The Secondman's Middle Stand
The Secondman's Middle Stand by Mike Watt (Audio CD - 2004)
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