Thursday, June 23, 2016


Among dozens of reasons to like Mike Watt, and one of the reasons he gets respect in this house, is because he recognizes greatness amongst his peers, punk related or not. To wit, on his 1994 LP Ball-Hog or Tugboat he covers Cowboy Nation's "Big Train". Now, you're scratching your head, who the hell is Cowboy Nation? They were an old school type cowboy country band that included Chip and Tony Kinman, brothers that began their careers as the Dils, one of the most potent California punk bands in the first wave of the late seventies. Come to think of it, "Big Train" may date back to the Dils. Whatever. Memories fade. Look it up if you're so inclined. After the Dils, the Kinman brothers were in Rank and File, Blackbird and then Cowboy Nation. They're deserved of a long-ass post all their own, but that'll have to come after I finish moving. In the meantime, I direct you to Watt's version of "Big Train", which features members of Nirvana, Wilco, Pearl Jam, Dinosaur Jr., and two Meat Puppets. Yeah. On a song written by two thirds of the Dils. F-huck yeah.

The Dils, ca 1979
In case you're dying to know, the personnel on the song is Watt (bass, vocals), Dave Grohl (drums), Nels Cline (slide guitar), Eddie Vedder (vocals, guitar), J. Mascis (guitar), Chris Kirkwood (banjo) and Curt Kirkwood (guitar). And that's just one song. The album also features members or former members of Bikini Kill, Soul Asylum, the Germs, Black Flag, Sonic Youth, the Pixies, the Screamers, the Lemonheads, the Screaming Trees, That Dog, the Beastie Boys, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Dude gets respect in a lot of houses. And the Kinmans get respect in his house.

Here's Watt's studio version, Cowboy Nation's version, and above, a video of a live TV appearance with a stripped down four piece band (with Grohl, Vedder, and Pat Smear of the Germs/Nirvana/Foo Fighters). A super special bonus in a recent video of Chip Kinman's latest project Ford Maddox Ford doing the song, with Tony Kinman sitting in on vocals, and another video of the Dils from 1979 doing Class War (thirty seven years goes by quick!). Because I couldn't find mp3s of any version of "Big Train", a consolation prize: the first two Dils 45s from way back in the day. Much more on the Kinmans, past and present, later. Now, back to packing.

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