Minutemen - Paranoid Time (Cover Artwork)


Paranoid Time (1980)


A group of guys from the working class area of town played a show with a rising new band called Black Flag in 1980 in San Pedro, California. This group of guys was Minutemen, and Black Flag's guitarist and SST's founder, Greg Ginn, was impressed. He asked them to record a single for the fledgling record label and Paranoid Time was born.

This was SST Records' second release, and fit perfectly in a catalogue next to Black Flag's Nervous Breakdown EP. Paranoid Time matched its predecessor's intensity and creativity. Much like Black Flag, Minutemen were in the process of changing the meaning of punk rock. Their music broke from the distorted buzzsaw power chords and started moving in a slightly funkier direction. D. Boon used higher treble levels than anyone in the punk scene at the time to give the music a higher tone and jazzier sound. Mike Watt used his bass for more than a rhythmic anchor; the bass lines hop and bounce, giving the music greater depth. Drummer George Hurley stood out above many of his peers in the indie rock scene, using beats slightly more complex than the standard D-beat. And while the music was complex, it wasn't pretentiously so. There are no solos to be found on this album. Like Wire, Minutemen let the music stand on its own, instead of using it to show how great its maker is.

Lyrically, the album shared a lot with its punk contemporaries. The songs all dealt with the paranoia of growing up in Cold War America and of the impending Reagan administration (though I guess they didn't know that was impending at that point). But unlike their hardcore peers, Minutemen didn't take the easy way around these issues. The lyrics were abstract explorations of these issues, not straightforward tirades. The songs demanded your attention in order for you to understand them

This EP is infinitely important to independent rock. There is no excuse not to own it.