By Michael Cano
Photos By Patsy Faragher
Andrea Belfi, the drummer, vocalist, pianist and glockenspielist for the musical trio that created this record of which I write a review explained the whole thing perfectly thusly: “Each song tells a story, the whole album has a narrative quality that is clearly perceivable from the very beginning.”
Yes, it does.
Here is a soundtrack to a movie that has not yet been created or yet filmed, but I am very sure that Mike Watt knows exactly what this movie looks like.
(By the way, this album really brings to mind, for me and for you, the works of Burt Bacharach and Henry Mancini. This statement is meant to be and is indeed an enormously large compliment.)
I am thinking that this as of yet unfilmed movie looks a lot like the images from Mr. Watt’s first “Rock Opera,” ‘Contemplating the Engine Room’ from back in 1997.
I do think that there is a reason that Mr. Watt thinks about the ocean and its vastness so very often and it doesn’t have everything to do with growing up in San Pedro.
What it has something else to do with, as I see it, is the SOUND of the ocean, the idea that rhythm and melody are constantly and consistently mixing and melding, changing and conforming, working together and fighting against, eventually forming a wonderful union.
This, to me, has been the dominant idea running through all of Mike Watt’s musical ventures, of which there are legion.
I am listening to the Minutemen’s album, ‘What Makes A Man Start Fires?’ right now, so I can prove my point to myself.
So many musical arguments between the players that end up being agreements, skewered and scattered points of view, like conversations at a gathering all going on at once, until there is a harmony if you listen correctly.
Mike Watt has listened correctly both to himself and to the musicians he has played with over the last few decades or so, and that is proven once again with this record.
He listens to his surroundings. All of them.(Here is a story that explains a whole lot of things:)
I went to Al’s Bar, the late and lamented Al’s Bar that is, one night back in the day to see fIREHOSE, the band that Watt formed after the tragic end of the Minutemen.
By this time, I had been to so many Watt gigs and spoken to the man himself enough times to call him a friend.
We were pals.
We still are.
I walked up to Watt before the band got on stage and found out by being face to face with the dude that he was ill, he was sick, he was not feeling well to say the least, in fact, he was damn near out of it. I said to him, “Brother man, can you hang? You gonna be all right?”Coughing, Watt said, “Yeah, man. I will make it.”
The gig went on and the gig blazed. It blazed and burned, it was something that was stronger than fire, it was more molten than lava, it was a thing alive, it was more than alive.
It was real.
Watt jumped off of the stage after the set and I stormed up to him and said:“DUDE!!!!”
Watt said to me this: “Me and D. Boon started a band to do gigs, and this was a FUCKING GIG!!!!”
This record, the one I am reviewing for you, this record is a fucking gig.
Once again: Andrea Belfi, the drummer, vocalist, pianist and glockenspielist for the musical trio that created this record of which I write a review explained the whole thing perfectly thusly: “Each song tells a story, the whole album has a narrative quality that is clearly perceivable from the very beginning.”
Il Sogno Del Marinaio La Busta Gialla is released by Clenched Wrench