After letting the two-album sprawl of Double Nickles on the Dime break their music apart, the Minutemen decided to go commercial. Well, not exactly, but in 1985, they could be almost be accused of writing pop songs. Almost.
Naturally, they made fun of this, entitling the EP follow-up Project: Mersh, both signalling and taking the piss out of what was easily their most polished set of songs to date. Not only did “Take Our Test” have R.E.M.-style overlapping vocals, “Tour-Speil” had harmonies!
This trend was continued on “The Price of Paradise,” the opening track of 1985’s Three-Way Tie (For Last), as D. Boon overdubs a bright, squealing lead guitar over a martial rhythm that becomes the most gorgeous thing they’d yet put to vinyl even before he opens his mouth to sing.
But that beauty was nowhere to be found in the lyrics, an absolutely snarling, no-holds-barred Vietnam song.
My brother, the soldier, a hero who survived
Would tell the story of men who died without dreams
And they fight for men twice their age
Smell of death and his life did change
Price of paradise is stained with blood
Young men die for what?
Sadly, at the time, this juxtaposition was kind of lost in any of the discussion of the album, as it came out almost exactly the same time that D. Boon was killed in an auto accident, a death that I think significantly altered the course of American indie rock.
I think that you could see a hint of where they were going in the the Firehose records, but in no way, shape or form was Ed Crawford as talented as D. Boon, so I’m guessing that there’s an alternate universe where the Minutemen might still be making great records.
“The Price of Paradise”
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