The Punch Line

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The Punch Line
Studio album by Minutemen
Released November 1st, 1981
Recorded 1981
Genre Hardcore punk, post-punk
Length 15:00
Label SST
Producer Spot
Minutemen chronology
Joy
(1981)
The Punch Line
(1981)
Bean-Spill
(1982)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars link

The Punch Line is the first 12-inch and third record release by influential American punk rock band Minutemen, and the fourth-ever release from SST Records. After their previous release Paranoid Time sold out its 300-copy pressing, Greg Ginn invited the band to record another album. [1] Less than half the length of most LPs, the total playing time for all 18 songs is a mere 15 minutes. The album was an early milestone release for the band and SST.

The Punch Line is also notable for being the only album to feature lead vocals from all three Minutemen. Bassist and primary songwriter Mike Watt sings lead vocals on several tracks, including the opening track "Search", "Ruins", and the last 3 of the album, "Gravity", "Warfare" and "Static", while drummer George Hurley does a lead vocal (referred to on the album's back cover as "giv(ing) a speech") in the middle of "Ruins".

The title track makes fun of General George A. Custer's death at the hands of Sitting Bull during the Battle of the Little Bighorn.

Another track on the album, the instrumental "Song For El Salvador", reflects D. Boon's support of the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front in El Salvador. (He was a member of the NGO Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador, or CISPES).

Even though the group's name was a reference to their personal and political ideology and not a reflection of the average length of their songs, only two songs on The Punch Line pass the one-minute mark. Most average between 30–45 seconds.

Minutemen, seeking to be as economical as possible in recording their first album, recorded The Punch Line during one late-night session (when studio time was the cheapest), recorded on previously used tape, and recorded the songs exactly in the order in which they appeared on the record. Overdubs were minimal if anything; Hurley's vocal on "Ruins" was actually cut during the basic track stages and picked up by the overhead drum mics.

Spot revealed during his interview for the Minutemen documentary We Jam Econo (preserved in the DVD's deleted scenes section) that the first pressing of the record was done with what he considered to be an inferior mastering job and set of stampers; he took possession of the stampers in order to prevent further pressings from being done, forcing a remaster that was used on all vinyl pressings since then. The remastered vocals sound significantly different from the original pressing in which the voices are deeper and slightly muffled.

The Punch Line also appears on the My First Bells cassette and the Post-Mersh Vol. 1 CD. The opening track, "Search", represented Minutemen on the second Rodney on the ROQ compilation album on Posh Boy Records, while four other songs, including the title track, were featured on the compilation cassette The Future Looks Bright Ahead, jointly issued by Posh Boy and SST in 1981. "Boiling" and "Games" were featured on the seminal SST compilation The Blasting Concept.

Track listing[edit]

Side 1
  1. "Search" – 0:51 (Hurley, Watt)
  2. "Tension" – 1:18 (Tamburovich, Watt)
  3. "Games" – 1:01 (Boon, Watt)
  4. "Boiling" – 0:58 (Hurley, Watt)
  5. "Disguises" – 0:45 (Boon)
  6. "The Struggle" – 0:40 (Boon)
  7. "Monuments" – 0:48 (Hurley, Watt)
  8. "Ruins" – 0:49 (Hurley, Watt)
  9. "Issued" – 0:38 (Hurley, Watt)
Side 2
  1. "The Punch Line" – 0:40 (Watt)
  2. "Song for El Salvador" – 0:31 (Boon)
  3. "History Lesson" – 0:37 (Boon)
  4. "Fanatics" – 0:30 (Watt)
  5. "No Parade" – 0:50 (Boon)
  6. "Straight Jacket" – 0:58 (Watt)
  7. "Gravity" – 0:55 (Hurley, Watt)
  8. "Warfare" – 0:54 (Hurley, Watt)
  9. "Static" – 0:50 (Boon, Watt)

Musical personnel[edit]

  • D. Boon - guitar and vocals
  • Mike Watt - bass and vocals
  • George Hurley - drums, lead vocal in the middle of "Ruins"

Other personnel[edit]

  • Spot - record producer, recording engineer

Artwork[edit]

  • D. Boon - front cover
  • George Hurley - back cover

References[edit]

  1. ^ Azerrad, Michael (2001). Our band could be your life : scenes from the American indie underground 1981 - 1991 (1. ed. ed.). Boston [u.a.]: Little, Brown. ISBN 0-316-06379-7.