Album #158: Minutemen – The Punch Line

  • Released: 1981
  • Origin: Los Angeles, California, USA
  • Label: SST
  • Best Track: Tension

You can tell I’m especially pushed for time when I start reviewing stuff like this! My only previous experience of Minutemen is their 1984 album Double Nickels on the Dime, often cited as a classic, although I’ve never really managed to get into it.

Their debut The Punchline came three years earlier, and I’ve chosen it because of its short running time. The band really live up to their name on this record, rattling out 18 tracks in just 15 minutes.

As the length implies, these are short burst of songs that get straight to the point. If you look up the lyrics, most songs have only four or five lines’ worth of them. Some, like ‘Disguises’, seem especially relevant now (The distance between black and white/Is much further than I would like/Until now I never noticed/that fascism has many disguises).

Other tracks, like ‘Tension’ are more notable for their energy and galloping guitars.

In truth, it’s not exactly the best punk record I’ve ever heard, but perhaps it should be seen more as a mission statement – a framework for an ethos and identity that only lasted five years, but has continued to resonate since.

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