Vinyl Vlog 300

Vinyl Vlog 300

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Friday, 19 January 2018
COLUMN

Mike Watt

Contemplating the Engine Room

All artists are defined by one piece: the one thing that defines their work the best, has the most appeal, or has made the greatest impact. Few bands are lucky enough to have their One Work actually be good. But “luck” isn’t something that comes to mind when thinking of Mike Watt.

Contemplating the Engine Room is Mike Watt’s One Work. The man has had an incredible history and is beloved by many. He’s also the go-to man for any documentaries dealing with punk rock. The man has been there through all of it and has plenty of stories to tell. Contemplating the Engine Room is a special album in that it’s Mike Watt’s first attempt at an opera and probably his most successful attempt at one. Having lost his compadre D. Boon years before, Watt considered leaving the bass altogether, and needed the support of his friends to stick to music. His first solo album is what he calls his “wrestling album” as he’s challenged with the task of putting an album together pulling shore duty. That album is most certainly a team effort and is full of love, both from his collaborators to the listening audience. Watt now has his confidence back. The engine room is running full steam ahead.

Contemplating the Engine Room is the project that puts that confidence to work: a concept album that takes place in one day, about three sailors who get into a routine together, go through their adventures, and suffer the loss of a teammate. While Ball-hog or Tug Boat felt all over the place (as it was meant to ) Contemplating the Engine Room is highly focused, incredibly elaborate, compelling, and musically versatile. It’s just so beautiful and unique. There’s a certain theme here that Watt plays with throughout these songs which are rock, jazz, punk rock, and surf-like and that bassline of In the Engine Room is simply the anchor for it all.

Never before in print, Org Music has now corrected this error by finally pressing this wonder on gatefold sleeve, double LP, 180g, with an etching on the d-side of symbols that relate to the songs of the album. It’s a pressing that takes the album seriously, as it should.

Contemplating the Engine Room is simply a cool-as-hell album that must be heard by everyone.

 

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