Mike Watt

“Ring Spiel” Tour ’95

In 1995, Minutemen and Firehose co-founder/bassist Mike Watt unfurled his solo debut, Ball-Hog or Tugboat? Testament to Watt’s influence (and legendary affability), the credits were an honor roll of indie/alt whizzes; Nels Cline, Thurston Moore, J Mascis, Flea, Dave Grohl, and Frank Black, for starters (and check it – Watt, Mascis, and Bernie Worrell taking on Funkadelic’s “Maggot Brain”).

Recorded live at the Metro in Chicago, this new disc time-capsules Watt supporting Ball-Hog and getting more-than-capable backing from Grohl, Eddie Vedder, ex-Germ/Nirvana guitarist Pat Smear, and original Foo Fighter William Goldsmith (the Foos serving as support on their first national tour).

The 16-song set is a fantastic amalgam of Ball-Hog bouts (such as “Against The ’70s” and “Piss-Bottle Man”) and Firehose faves (covers of BÖC’s “The Red And The Black” and Daniel Johnson’s “Walking The Cow” stand out). The highlight, however, might be the lone Minutemen cut, a rumbling take on “Political Song For Michael Jackson To Sing.”

Watt has since gone on to numerous projects, including bass chair with the reformed Stooges, and his solo affairs defy classification, skirting punk, jazz, funk, and rawk. This disc is a fitting synopsis of his work.

This article originally appeared in VG‘s May ’17 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.