Mike Watt’s amusing ode to touring and its Kerouac-style documentation, ‘Tour Spiel’ is a sure-fire anthem for any punks revving up their Econoline vans. Few bands in the early 1980s toured as regularly and extensively as the San Pedro punkers Minutemen, so Watt, D.Boon and George Hurley thus had plenty of scope to reflect on the experience of being on the road. And bassist Watt perfectly captures what these dudes got up to in bringing their energetic live show to small clubs and stages all across America in the early to mid-1980s. The song is also one of this legendary band’s finest compositions; a funky Watt bassline and lead vocal and the imperious drumming of the floppy haired Hurley making the song a real tour de force. The late Boon throws in some electric guitar histrionics and tasteful acoustic flourishes for the bridge, before joining his comrade Watt for the wonderful chorus. The Minutemen were one of the finest bands of the 1980s. Their innovative hardcore punk was laced with elements of classic rock and free jazz, and songs carrying Boon and Watt’s high-brow political, social and existential concerns were adeptly paired with songs illustrating their unique humour and youthful exuberance. The fabulous ‘Tour Spiel’ is definitely a song of the latter category, and a prime example of their greatness.
Available on: Minutemen Project Mersh (SST, 1985).