There was one morning I woke up in 1992 and I felt like I’d been asleep for a couple of years. Right here, right now, at this very moment, I think the 1001 Albums list should end and start over. The book and list should be split into two volumes. It’s got nothing to do with me being a lazy dirt bag, which is also … Continue reading 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die…Or Not: 1991 – 1992
Comparatively speaking, we’re going to breeze through this period. There’s a revolution of sorts on the horizon. At this point, recording artists are either making records that sell, or they aren’t making records. There will be fewer suggested alternatives simply because 1001 AYMHBYD already named most of the Must Hear records. You could almost skip both 1989 and 1990 and not miss much. Almost. Key: … Continue reading 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die…Or Not: 1989 – 1990
If 1985-86 is a dead zone for Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, then 1987-88 is a black hole. Mainstream popular music was more about hairspray and pastel colors than artistic achievement. How bad was music in 1987? It was Bruce Willis – The Return of Bruno bad. It was Whitesnake and Tawny Kitaen on the hood of a Jaguar dreadful. It was Richard … Continue reading 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die…Or Not: 1987 – 1988
Dedicated to my brother, Bobby Camp (1969-2015) who introduced me to more bands than I can count. Frank Zappa (among others) once said something along the lines of writing about music is like dancing about architecture. That’s wrong. If listening to music is an experience, then writing about said experience is just as valid as writing about a trip to India. You can write about … Continue reading 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die…Or Not: 1985 – 1986
To be honest, I didn’t know what the hell was going on in 1983-84, and I was hoping that 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die was going to bring some clarity to my confusion. Generally speaking, the self-awareness of a 16-year-old boy is limited to his immediate sight and grasp. At least, that’s how it was for me. What I do know about … Continue reading 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die…Or Not: 1983 – 1984
Every so often, it’s important to stop, take a look around, stare out the window for a while, change the channel, get up and stretch your legs. The last four years in popular music have witnessed a series of sea changes, which ultimately sank a bunch of ships. The disco backlash has reached critical mass, and the genre is now relegated to the adult contemporary … Continue reading 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die…Or Not: 1981 – 1982
1979-1980 is the first period of 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die…Or Not in which I had heard every record prior to writing the associated essay. In some cases, I was listening to the record for only the second time, but there were no surprises, only disappointments and hasty generalizations. On the other hand, this period also has the fewest strikethroughs and the … Continue reading 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die…Or Not: 1979 – 1980
Over the years I’ve grown exceedingly skeptical and often dismissive of almost any article, book, or list that promotes something the reader “must do.” You don’t have to do anything. However, if you’re interested in the development of rock music as an artistic, historical and/or social movement, there are more than 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, as declared by the popular coffee … Continue reading 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die…Or Not – The Introduction
Mike Watt is two hours early and sounds ever-so slightly irritated, which is alarming since he’s universally regarded as one of the nicest, coolest cats to ever walk the Earth. And it’s not my fault but Watt is totally within his rights. If he was beefing, it was completely justified. Fresh off a 23-date European tour with one of his many projects, il Sogno del Marinaio, Watt has just barely returned to his beloved home of San Pedro, California, only to find that his internet doesn’t work.
Therefore, he’s had to “borrow” a Skype connection from a friend in order to do our interview, and to make things even worse, reschedule his plans in order to accommodate me. We were originally scheduled to chat at 9:00 a.m. PST—when he called—but a few days later, Watt’s p.r. dude sent a message saying that Watt wanted to change it to 11:00 a.m. Seems he wanted to shoot a video in his kayak.
San Pedro is a harbor town and Watt lives about a mile from the ocean; therefore, it’s paradise for a kayak enthusiast and all-around Aquaman like Watt. The ocean and the seas have long been an integral part of Watt’s work. “OK,” I wrote back. “No prob.” Well, no internet means no email and apparently, Watt didn’t get the message that I agreed to the schedule change.
So that just acts as a perfect example of Mike Watt’s character. There’s no bullshit with him. If he says he’s gonna talk to you at 9:00, unless he hears otherwise, that’s what he’s going to do. Guys like Mike Watt are hard to come by.
Fortunately, I had signed on to Skype at 6:00 a.m. PST, just in case. Honestly, I was really anxious about the interview. It’d been 10 years since I’d seen or talked to Watt. A lot of things had changed. He joined Iggy Pop and the Stooges, that’s a pretty big deal. He toured the world many times over in one of his countless projects. He has his own bobblehead. I think that’s how you know you’ve made it in punk rock. In the meantime, I’d always tracked his movements via Mike Watt’s Hoot Page; his diaries (aka tour spiels) have always been some of my favorite reading materials.
For those of you who read Petrology 202: Carol Kaye, you’ll remember that I said my biggest fear in doing interviews with my heroes was being so star-struck that it turns into the Chris Farley-Paul McCartney skit on Saturday Night Live. The point of doing an interview is to get something out of the interviewee that nobody knows, and that’s a tricky thing to achieve. I can do it with friends and acquaintances because they don’t know I’m doing it. But people like Paul McCartney and Mike Watt have been doing interviews as long as I’ve been alive; so they’re completely aware of the journalist trick bag.
Meanwhile, before the call came in, my inner question was: “Do I have the ability to engage him on a personal level, rather than have a standard journalist-versus-musician dialogue?” But I wanted to talk to Watt as a friend; not because I’m a journalist—actually, I’m not a true journalist; I’m more of an active observer. In the end, what I am is just another schlub in a long line of people who are huge fans of Watt’s work, and at one time, I was vaguely what you might call a “peer”.
In fact, the last time I saw him was when Henry Miller Sextet (my band) played Bottom of the Hill (S.F.), opening for Mike Watt + the Secondmen. Plus, he’s one of my Heroes. Seriously, think about that. Mike Watt is Bob Dylan to me—he’s my Paul McCartney. Meanwhile, I was taking in as much of his work as possible; reading and re-reading the spiels, watching the videos, listening to the jams. I don’t want to talk to one of my heroes like some jackass from the New York Times who is completely unfamiliar with his work and what he’s all about.
Anyway, I was cramming my notes with last minute research when out of nowhere, his call came in. Shaken up pretty good, I forgot to press record for the first 30 seconds or so.