We Jam Econo - The Story of the Minutemen
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WE JAM ECONO - THE STORY OF THE MINUTEMEN is the acclaimed feature-length documentary on the too-brief life of one of the most revered, intriguing, and inspired American bands ever. At the heart of their story is the immeasurable personal and musical bond between bassist Mike Watt and singer and guiatrist D. Boon. Childhood friends, their unbridled creativity and political views were the foundation of this groundbreaking band which refused to be categorized as Punk.
The film weaves together personal tales from Watt and drummer George Hurley with archival interview footage of the band and rare live performances. New interviews with over 50 musicians, artists, journalists, and friends help tell the Minutemen story, from their humble beginnings in the harbor town of San Pedro, California, to the tragic 1985 death of D. Boon in a highway accident in the Arizona desert.
Chances are if Alt-Rock changed your life in the 1990s you have the 1980s band The Minutemen to thank. And for those of you who missed out when The Minutemen were at the top of their game, you're in luck. We Jam Econo - The Story of the Minutemen is the long-awaited documentary of this wildly eclectic, seminal indie punk band. San Pedro High School graduates and long time friends D. Boon (guitar), Mike Watt (bass), and George Hurley (drums) formed The Minutemen in 1980 in the wake of the late seventies punk explosion. The Minutemen's trademark sound was a unique blend of punk, funk, classic rock riffs, mexicali rhythms and jazz beats sprinkled with a healthy dose of left wing politics and angst. These genres were often blended together into the same song and played in rapid fire bursts clocking in at one to two minutes tops. Their relentless touring and recording helped The Minutemen build a solid underground following while winning praises of music critics everywhere. After releasing their magnum opus Double Nickels On the Dime (1984) and opening for REM in 1985, the Minutemen were quickly rising to the top of the American Underground/College Rock heap. It looked as though super stardom may have been on the horizon for the boys from San Pedro. Sadly, the ride would be cut short when front man D. Boon died in a car crash on December 22, 1985. Culled from hours of home video footage, live concert footage and new interviews with Mike Watt and George Hurley, We Jam Econo chronicles the band from their early teen years, the band's roots in the 1980s Southern California hardcore scene, right up to the tragic death of front man D. Boon. We Jam Econo also includes loads of interviews from fellow musicians that read like a "who's who" list of the 1980s punk/ hardcore scene including the guys from Black Flag, X's John Doe, Minor Threat/ Fugazi's Ian MacKaye, Hüsker Dü's Greg Norton and Grant Hart, Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Dead Kennedys' Jello Biafra, Dinosaur Jr.'s J. Mascis, Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo, among many other admirers. The extras on this DVD include deleted scenes and extended interviews, their music videos and a complete band interview from 1985. By far the best extra on this set are the three complete live Minutemen performances from 1980, 1984, and 1985. --Rob BraccoSee all Editorial Reviews
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Top Customer Reviews
To be sure, a number of the criticisms noted by other reviewers are on the mark. For example, there are possibly too many commenters; a large number pop up for one relatively un-illuminating comment (e.g., how great a drummer Hurley is, how funny a dancer Boon was, etc.). It would have been nice to have more sustained commentary from fewer commenters, but that's not a major fault.
And I'll agree that this isn't a highly polished effort, like the Clash documentary WESTWAY TO THE WORLD, or the Pistols documentary THE FILTH & THE FURY, but then I somehow don't think that would be appropriate for the Minutemen. These were working men, not art students. Fashion wasn't real big on their list of concerns; passion was.
And it's true; D.Boon's death is not dwelt upon at length. I think it would have been at a minimum redundant to do so, and possibly in bad taste. I think the filmmakers handle it with a deft and light touch that does not in any diminish the impact. For anyone who knows the band, of course, D.Boon's death hangs over the preceeding years of the story anyway. You dread getting to that inevitable part of the story. The filmmakers do not invite you to wallow in emotions; they allow you to breathe. I appreciate not being treated like a Spielberg fan.
I cannot fathom the reviewer who felt that Mike Watt was unemotional; I had the distinct impression that he was on the verge of tears at least three times in the segments that appear in the main documentary. My heart went out to him and George all over again, just the way it did when I first heard about D.Boon's death all those years ago.
Overall, I think the documentary succeeds in its basic aims - to tell the story of the band, to try to get across what made them so special out of all the bands in the American punk milieu, to explore the personal, social, & historical contexts out of which the band members (esp. Boon & Watt) emerged, and to show the extraordinary power of the band live.
You come away from the documentary (which is only the main draw to this generous package) understanding how these guys were able to achieve so much, including writing one of the greatest love songs I've ever heard, albeit not a romantic or erotic one ("History Lesson Pt. 2"). You will appreciate anew their extraordinary musicianship, their work ethic, and their down-to-earth approachability. I vividly remember chatting with them after an incendiary gig they played with Husker Du, Meat Puppets, Saccharine Trust, & Swa in San Jose in '84 - they were truly interested in talking to their fans).
The extras are great - the 3 videos are great to have, and the footage of the 3 live shows is just precious beyond words. I saw the Minutemen live 5 or 6 times from 1980 to 1984 and they were always at least good. They poured everything they had out on the stage - I think it was something like a moral obligation for them to do that for their audiences.
Buy this and be reminded of what can be achieved by 3 lowly 'corndogs', and how simple it can be to be decent, human, humane, dedicated, and fearless. I miss them. RIP D.Boon, and long life and best wishes, Mike & George.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
the minutemen were an amazing band
rip d boon~<3
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