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Baker's Dozen

"The Spirit": Mike Watt Of The Missingmen's Favourite Albums
John Calvert , March 6th, 2014 10:13

Currently in the middle of a European tour, the Minutemen, Dos and Firehose founder pares down his record collection to give John Calvert his thirteen all-time top LPs

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Sly And The Family Stone - There's A Riot Goin' On
With Larry Graham [Sly And The Family Stone's bassist]! Graham was the big daddy for me, because I could hear his bass on those records, and learn off them.

But Sly's music was trippy, man. It was different from the Motown thing. It was its own thing. It was really special. I first heard it on AM radio… believe it or not AM radio used to be hip! But yeah, it was the only time I bought a record already knowing what it sounded like. A very rare thing. Even that T. Rex album A Beard Of Stars I bought it 'cause of the name! Actually, in those days record stores where were you also bought musical instruments. It was much different to now.

But Sly was trippy, man. I grew up in naval housing, right. My daddy was a sailor in Pedro. And at the base they organised us by rank. For instance, I didn't know any officer's children because my pop was a chief. But it meant that I was in with black kids, Latino kids, white kids, Asian guys. Now, it was like that when I moved to the projects too, like we were jammed in together. But it was different too, 'cause the civilians I realised lived, like, in ethnic groupings. And it was same thing with rock music. I could start to see them separating it out in rock, between black and white… probably for marketing reasons or something. I could see it coming by about the early- to mid-70s. I mean, get this: I went to California Jam in 1974, Emerson, Lake & Palmer were headlining. Anyway, so E, L & P are headlining, but Earth, Wind & Fire are playing at fuckin' ten o'clock in the morning!! I dunno, I just thought it was dangerous. Now we're starting to get put into different camps?? What's this about? I mean… I liked being with OTHER DUDES, other kinds of people! It's like your website… the Quietus… with all the different types of music in together - I feel like there's something healthy about that. I mean this is probably why I had such an affinity with The Pop Group: why not put Beefheart with Parliament?! 

I'm not saying I'm pro-military. Taking all our daddies and puttin' them in Vietnam… not into that part [laughs]. But that was one good thing about my experiences in the military. The other good thing was that my daddy would go away on these tours (they'd kinda get him close enough so that they could drop the bombs, y'know), and he would come back and tell me about these other fucking places. I got real curious, man. So I had heard all these musicians complaining about touring, but when we got to do it, with Black Flag, I was like "now I get to be like my pops! Like a sailor, going from port to port, seein' pads I'd never seen!" It was unreal.

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Mar 6, 2014 4:09pm

Cue inevitable 'He's picked a load of albums I've heard of, boooooring' type comments. Sounds like a real gent, I'd love to go for a beer with him.

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Mar 6, 2014 4:57pm

Love Mike Watt, best Baker's Dozen ever. Thanks!!

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Mar 6, 2014 4:58pm

He is a real gent, had a drink with him when he last played the Lexington.

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alex connor
Mar 6, 2014 5:36pm

mike. fucking. watt.
That made my day.
I'm still smiling...

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F Again
Mar 6, 2014 5:42pm

Oh man, what a joy. Can you bring Watt back for a second and third Dozen?

Thank you for this, it's just the best.

Watt is The Man- then, now and forever.

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Taun Aengus
Mar 6, 2014 6:20pm

Mike Watt is the man. What a heartfelt soulful dude. All those albums are like pouring gasoline on a fire.
Just had a thought--How about getting Lester Bangs back from the dead and finding out his favs?

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Mar 6, 2014 7:14pm

Mike Watt is almost impossibly cool.

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Manic Inventor
Mar 6, 2014 7:19pm

A Baker's Dozen that woke me up instead of putting me to sleep. Hell Yeah!

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Mar 6, 2014 7:26pm

everytime i read "D.Boon" written i can hear mike saying it in his voice hahaha. he fucking loves saying it.

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Mar 6, 2014 9:48pm

Every bit as excellent a read as I'd hope.
Countdown to the Ruby Lounge...

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Mar 6, 2014 10:31pm

Blue Oyster Cult ** are ** (were) shorties!! And so is Richard Meltzer!!

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Mar 7, 2014 3:46am


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Mar 7, 2014 2:27pm

This was a joy to read. Brilliant. Love Mike Watt and can't wait to see him again in a few weeks.

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Mar 7, 2014 8:17pm

Not to nitpick, but in the first paragraph of the Stooges record, the word "shields" is used, when I think Watt meant "shills": to act as a spokesperson or promoter <the>

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Mar 7, 2014 11:49pm

In reply to Jeff:

It's possible that is what he meant. Apologies, if so. I was talking to him from another country so the connection was a little sketchy.

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Mar 8, 2014 11:05pm

Mike Watt Forever! Thank you for getting him to talk about his favourite records, I can now go off and love him just that extra bit more.

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Mar 10, 2014 11:08am

Mike Watt will always be the man and one of my biggest heroes. I think the first comment said something about "Cue the inevitable "He's picked a lot of albums I've heard of etc." but the great thing about his choices is that they aren't just name dropping the classics as some might do, but that you can hear each album's honest to god influence on his playing and his approach to life. Thank you Mike!

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Mar 11, 2014 12:46am

Seeing Mike slay in Los Angeles last year was a blast (even jamming on "Sister Ray" in tribute to Lou). Love the term "hittin' the Creedence" - gotta use that.

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Mar 13, 2014 1:49pm

I didn't want that to end...just brilliant, give him a regular spot. Got me fired up like carburetor dung.

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Mar 13, 2014 4:48pm


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Mar 17, 2014 11:54am

I think when he says "second band" on the Stooges page he might have meant "Secondmen" as Iggy would have asked him to be in the Stooges around 2002 when Watt was doing the Secondmen band...

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Mar 25, 2014 1:44pm

They say never meet your heroes, they obviously never met Mike Watt. I got 5 minutes with him after his gig in Belfast a few years ago and he was polite, engaging, enthusiastic and just the friendliest guy you could meet. Love the guy, love this article!

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Apr 4, 2014 2:10am

The many musical layers of Mike Watt. That is all.

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