Ball-Hog or Tugboat?

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Ball-Hog or Tugboat?
Studio album by Mike Watt
Released February 28, 1995
Recorded May 29, 1994 to September 11, 1994
Genre Alternative rock
Length 68:35
Label Columbia
Producer Mike Watt
Mike Watt chronology
Ball-Hog or Tugboat?
(1995)
Contemplating The Engine Room
(1997)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[1]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[2]

Ball-Hog or Tugboat? is the debut solo album by former Minutemen and Firehose bassist, songwriter and vocalist Mike Watt. It was recorded in 1994, and came at a personal and professional career crossroads for Watt. Firehose had broken up after eight years and six releases earlier in 1994, and his marriage to former Black Flag bassist Kira Roessler had ended in divorce (although both their friendship and their dual-bass project Dos continued; Kira also contributed some computer graphics to the album's artwork).

Background[edit]

Without a full-time band, Watt recruited a wide variety of friends and fellow travelers to participate in the recording of the album. These included fellow SST Records alumni like former Black Flag vocalist Henry Rollins, members of Sonic Youth, Curt and Cris Kirkwood of the Meat Puppets, former Saccharine Trust guitarist Joe Baiza, Dinosaur Jr's J Mascis, and former SST house producer Spot, as well as members of bands who had either toured with and/or been influenced by the Minutemen and Firehose, including Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder, Nirvana's Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl (making their first recorded appearance on a record since Kurt Cobain's death), Jane's Addiction and Porno for Pyros drummer Stephen Perkins, Red Hot Chili Peppers's Flea, Soul Asylum's Dave Pirner, former Germs and Nirvana guitarist Pat Smear, former Pixies singer Frank Black, former Screamers and Twisted Roots keyboardist Paul Roessler (who was also Watt's brother-in-law), The Lemonheads frontman Evan Dando, The Circle Jerks's Zander Schloss, former Screaming Trees vocalist Mark Lanegan, jazz/punk guitarist Nels Cline and his drummer Michael Preussner, that dog's Petra and Rachel Haden and Anna Waronker and Mike D and Ad-Rock of the Beastie Boys. Also participating on the album were Parliament/Funkadelic organist Bernie Worrell, Carla Bozulich of the Geraldine Fibbers and Bruce Hornsby drummer John Molo.

In interviews and on his online tour journals, Watt has nicknamed Ball-Hog... "The Wrestling Album", as he considered the various lineups we worked with on the album as "people getting into the ring" with him. Watt has also mentioned in interviews that professional wrestling is one of the few things he regularly watches on television (He once named The Magnificent Muraco as a favorite wrestler of his.) Watt's longtime best friend, artist Raymond Pettibon (another wrestling fan), added to the wrestling theme by contributing to the artwork a panel cartoon with the caption "Sex with you is like watching scientific wrestling".[3]

"Big Train" was the first single from the album and one of only two songs Watt sang lead vocal on (the other being the closing track, "Coincidence Is Either Hit Or Miss".) The album's other singles, "Against The 70's" and "Piss-Bottle Man", featured Eddie Vedder and Evan Dando on lead vocals respectively. All three of the singles were airplay hits on both modern rock and college radio, with "Against The 70's" peaking at #21 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart.[4] Videos were also shot for "Big Train" and "Piss-Bottle Man"; the former video originally featured models of Union Pacific trains in the footage, which was blurred out in a subsequent version of the clip after the company raised a copyright objection.

As part of the label's push behind the album, Columbia released the album as a limited-run double-vinyl LP, pressed on deep blue vinyl, and in a limited edition cardboard 12-inch by 6-inch sleeve that included both the standard CD insert as well as a second CD booklet that contained a "glossary of Pedro slang".[5]

To date, Ball-Hog... is the biggest selling album of Mike Watt's career other than the Minutemen's Double Nickels On The Dime.[citation needed]

Tour[edit]

Watt assembled an all-star grouping for his initial tour for the album in early 1995, attracting a great deal of attention from the alternative music press. Watt was backed by Vedder on guitar and vocals, Smear on guitar, William Goldsmith on drums, and Dave Grohl alternating on guitar and drums. The tour also featured Hovercraft (also featuring Vedder, performing semi-anonymously beside his then-wife Beth Liebling), and the Foo Fighters on their first national tour. Watt's ensemble performed on The Jon Stewart Show during this tour. Special guests such as Carla Bozulich and Perry Farrell appeared at select shows.

Later in the year Watt toured with a four-piece nicknamed The Crew Of The Flying Saucer with guitarist Nels Cline and two drummers, Michael Preussner and Vince Meghrouni, who served as an opening act for Primus on their 1995 US tour.

Track listing[edit]

All tracks composed by Mike Watt; except where indicated

  1. "Big Train" (Tony Kinman, Chip Kinman) – 3:21
  2. "Against The 70's" – 3:28
  3. "Drove Up From Pedro" – 4:32
  4. "Piss-Bottle Man" – 3:16
  5. "Chinese Firedrill" (Watt, Joe Carducci) – 3:25
  6. "Intense Song For Madonna To Sing" – 3:05
  7. "Tuff Gnarl" (Sonic Youth) – 3:10
  8. "Sexual Military Dynamics" (Watt, Henry Rollins) – 2:39
  9. "Max And Wells" – 3:11
  10. "E-Ticket Ride" – 4:27
  11. "Forever... One Reporter's Opinion" – 3:41
  12. "Song For Igor" – 2:46
  13. "Tell 'Em Boy!" – 3:29
  14. "Sidemouse Advice" – 3:31
  15. "Heartbeat" – 5:34
  16. "Maggot Brain" (George Clinton, Eddie Hazel) – 12:05
  17. "Coincidence Is Either Hit Or Miss" – 2:20

Personnel[edit]

External links[edit]

References and footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Allmusic review
  2. ^ Rolling Stone review[dead link]
  3. ^ Contrary to some Internet speculation, the "Tugboat?" in the album title is not a reference to the WWE wrestling character Tugboat
  4. ^ http://www.billboard.com/artist/311234/mike+watt/chart
  5. ^ [1][dead link]