Mike Watt has always been something of a holy madman in rock music, particularly the punk realm, where he blazed more than one trail while pal'ing with Black Flag and others. It makes sense, then, that this third installment in his sprawling punk opera was recorded at Tony Maimone's (Pere Ubu) Studio G. Yeah, ostensibly the previous numbers, Contemplating the Engine Room and The Secondman's Middle Stand, are freestanding efforts but, hell, they're all one nonetheless, a certain grand trio of movements in successive efforts. Along the way, a number of rather striking happenstances have eventuated, not the least being a membership in the reformed Stooges after the death of Ron Asheton (and if you haven't glommed the new Stooges DVD yet—holy Christ, what're you waiting for?!?!).
Hyphenated-Man stands a good deal of Zappa, Beefheart, Pere Ubu, The Who, and God only knows who else on their heads again, making the enclave sing a new song. A rather anarchically based coherency romps all over the place, brash and melodious simultaneously, erupting with the kind of raw energy and risk-taking, not to mention new forms and ideas, that saw the 60s and 70s through their paces. There are 30 songs/movements in Hyphenated-Man but don't reach back to all those 'Recorded Total Bullshit in 30 Seconds!' cassette, LP, and CD idiot anthologies of the 80s 'cause there's more than enough continuity here, where the segmentations are barely noticeable—the late Capt. Trout Mask breathes rather strongly everywhere; thus, fragmented linearity is perfectly apropos.
For a trio (Watt—bass, vocals; Tom Watson—guitar; Raul Morales—drums), these bastards make a very full noise, and Watt's basswork is as jazzy and progressive as ever. Morales takes a Keith Moon-y approach to the traps, and Watson displays Townshendesque raw guitar raves with clever chord changes and in your face brashness. The songs themselves, however, can get pretty hairy, schizophrenic, and almost bombastic (heh! funny, isn't it?, how punk, which used to revile progrock, is now re-educating certain aspects of it) while almost Ventures/Troggs moshy. More, the entire porridge is spazz-dancey, Boho, and caffeine factory slam poetic, a kind of amphetamine reptile of nerves and diesel exhaust—all you've come to expect of Mikey………and more.
And, oh hell no!, I'm not going to write down all 30 damn song titles! Do I look that nuts?
Don't answer that.
All songs written by Mike Watt.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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