Underrated Albums of the '90s -- Part 5

September 17, 2014 9:51 PM

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Mike Watt made his mark as the Godfather of Punk Bass playing in the Minutemen, a SoCal trio that brewed up a musical flavor all their own. After the tragic death of singer/guitarist D.Boon in 1985, Watt formed Firehose and made four records before disbanding the group in 1993. After that, he concocted this all-star solo album in the mid-90s and got a huge and diverse roster of performers on board. Every song features a completely different lineup of musicians wrapped around Watt's propulsive bass lines, making it an eclectic adventure in the '90s all-star alt-rock universe. No matter how big the star power (Eddie Vedder, Henry Rollins, Dave Grohl, Nels Cline, J. Mascis, Flea, etc) there's no egos here, just musicians paying homage to someone they most obviously respect. Though the songs are not radio-friendly hits per se (that was never Watt's style/mission) each occupies a special place of its own, as if this was a greatest hits collection and somewhere there was an album full of songs in the style of each single. Some of the highlights include Soul Asylum's Dave Pirner shredding his vocal cords on "Tell 'Em Boy," Eddie Vedder's plea against nostalgia on "Against the 70's" and Watt's charming "Piss Bottle Man," written about riding with his father in a delivery truck as a kid. Overall, this is one of Watt's most consistent and engaging albums and a treasure trove of alternative rock delights.

For a long time after releasing One Mississippi, Brendan Benson lay dormant, leaving fans of this most excellent record to wonder if he'd ever surface again. His more recent solo albums and work with Jack White in the Raconteurs proved us all wrong but this debut album stands as a testament to his t...

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