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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


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.