Personnel: Mike Watt (vocals, guitar, acoustic guitar); D. Boon (vocals, guitar); Crane (trumpet, background vocals); Ethan James, E. James (synthesizer, background vocals); George Hurley (drums, wood block, sound effects).
Recording information: Redondo Beach, CA (02/1985); Total Access Studios, Redondo Beach, CA (02/1985).
Unknown Contributor Roles: Ethan James; George Hurley.
This 1985 E.P. was the band's penultimate release before the death of singer/guitarist d. Boon put a premature end to this unique and influential trio. The term "mersh," meaning commercial, was a tongue-in-cheek reference to the band's decidedly uncommercial stance in terms of their sound, lyrics, and attitude. The first two cuts, "The Cheerleaders" and "King of the Hill" certainly rank among the Minutemen's finest work.
In "Cheerleaders" Boon's laid-back jazz guitar and a poppy horn arrangement make an ironic counterpoint to a song that compares a complacent public's response to war to spectators at a perverse pep rally. Laced with lacerating lyrics like "Do you have to see the body bags/before you make a stand?" it is one of Boon's most incisive moments of social commentary. The galloping "King of the Hill" also likens war to a youthful game, and boils over in a blistering guitar solo. The band shows off its bodacious chops on the Steppenwolf cover, "Hey Lordy Mama, " and their skewed humor on "Take Our Test" and "Tour Spiel," a Mike Watt number fusing autobiographical musings about the band's years of incessant touring with the group's Blue Oyster Cult obsession.