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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


T. Rex - The Slider
Bolan was incredible, man.

I didn't understand one word that motherfucker was singing about.

The first gig I ever went to see was T. Rex, when I was 13. Me and D. Boon. D. Boon's dad brings us and this guy's from Omaha, Nebraska: he might as well have a fucking... wheat thing hanging out of his mouth. But here he is at a fuckin' T. Rex concert [laughs]!

The gig was way different to the records. Rex's songs are like three minutes long, but live they'd do the three minutes and then Bolan would be dropping onto his knees and playing ten minute guitar solos, like a Jimi Hendrix thing! I was like, WHAT?? 

And the people in front of us are like a bunch of Hari Krishnas with sparklers. Glam wasn't big in the US so the dudes who got into it were trippers, man. I dunno why we were attracted to glam – us working class boys from an industrial harbour - but it just seemed like a freak show, and we liked that. 

But in actual fact, 70s US punk was a lot about glam. Hardcore was different to 70s US punk – hardcore was teenagers doing their first music and rebelling against their parents. But before then, bands like The Germs and X were a lot about glam and glitter. We couldn't separate T. Rex from Creedence, we just thought it was all part of the same rock & roll thing. I mean, to us John Fogerty wearing flannel was the same as Bolan wearing a feather boa. It's all the same thing. Alice Cooper, he has a girl's name 'cause that's just what you do! And this whole thing taught us that it's OK to be yourself. 

Actually, the first time I came to London, 31 years ago with Black Flag, I asked the gig boss to take me south of the river to see the tree [Bolan's shrine, the tree where he crashed his car]. I had to see it. 

The way T. Rex records were released on eight-track cartridges was also influential on Minutemen I think. The way eight-tracks were mechanically organised is they'd cut right into the songs, end them half way through, divide them up, so it was like that Wire thing again.