Minuteflag - Minuteflag (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Minuteflag (1986)


                Minuteflag, a one off collaboration between Black Flag and The Minutemen, succeeded where so many other attempts at, largely, instrumental music failed for Black Flag. Save for Greg Ginn’s guitar playing, Black Flag was largely a rock band delving into jazz. And it frequently showed, while Ginn could improvise with the best of them; the rhythms were still largely based in rock and, at times, punk. Both of which, are far more limiting stylistically than jazz. The Minuetmen, on the other hand, had delved into various genres of music starting with Double Nickels on the Dime and Mike Watt and George Hurley were one of the more adept rhythm sections in the underground music scene in the 1980’s.

When they came together for a jam session both bands played to their strengths, and the results were surprisingly good. The only track with vocals, the D. Boon penned, “Fetch the Water” was most likely the closest this project comes to sounding like anything in either bands’ catalog. The song’s guitar brought to mind 3-Way Tie for Last-era Minutemen, though the lyrics delved away from the strong socio-political textures of that album and focued on the misadventures of a boy sent to fetch some water. The song also featured, what I assume, are Henry Rollins’ only contributions to this entire project as he performed background vocals on the chorus and supplementary background vocals throughout the rest of the song.

The rest of this release was just a solid musical workout for both bands. Bill Stevenson did a solid job laying down drums, while George Hurley provided percussion which really opened up the overall sound. Much like Family Man, this album opened a few doors for the players’ later projects. While Kira and Mike Watt were certainly aware of one another prior to this release, I believe they wouldn’t begin recording as Dos until in the fall of 1985. The recording sessions for this release took place earlier the same year. They work well with one another though, while one provides the standard bassline the other is able to open it up and improvise with the same abilities that Ginn had on guitar.

Every track on the album was great; I only wish there’d been more tape left when they were recording “Friends,” the closing track, as it seemed to be heading in a really interesting direction when it stopped suddenly. This album wasn’t supposed to be released until both bands broke up, which Black Flag would do a year later in 1986. D. Boon’s death, in December 1985, would lead to this album being released shortly after Black Flag’s breakup. While this is certainly one of those albums only devout fans of either, or both, bands are going to seek out. If you ever find yourself in a store and see a used copy for a reasonable price, it’s worth picking up.