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PROJECT MERSH 12"
01. The Cheerleaders
02. King of the Hill
03. Hey Lawdy Mama
04. Take Our Test
06. More Spiel
Label: SST Records
Cat #: SST 034
I was expecting the worst when I heard that the Minutemen were working on a commercial EP. I was expecting D. Boon on lead synth and George Hurley on drum machine. This EP still has that Minutemen charm and intelligent lyrics. However this EP is more geared for progressive FM radio than any other Minutemen release. "Take Our Test" could be a hit song with its pretty harmonies and acoustic guitar. There's some trumpet work on 3 songs which works well. These are the longest songs the Minutemen have ever compiled on one record, averaging 3 mintues each. The Minutemen are trying to cross over the commercial barrier without compromising their music.
-Ron Philips (from Task #2, June 1985)
The guys at SST are well on their way to achieving a monopoly on the world's musical geniuses. The Minutemen are nothing short of incredible and this record has them playing like never before. There are 6 songs on this 12" 45 and they're all great. Excellent playing by all three members of the band and even trumpet on some of the songs. Buy this or be forever sorry.
-Mark S.D. (from Warning #15, April/May/June 1985)
A semi-serious stab at making hit records. So once you get past the shock at hearing horns, guitar breaks, and longer songs on a MINUTEMEN record you discover that they're writing incredible songs. "King of the Hill" is the centerpiece with a full, complex structure and lyrics that bring politics onto a more personal level. Also a nice mantra-like psychedelic feel to "Tour Spiel, Part 2."
-Dogtowne (from Maximum Rocknroll #26, July 1985)
What is there left for the San Pedro Three to do in order to make that breakthrough from college radio to "real commercial airplay"? How about playing the club circuit at least three nights a week (not including benefits) for the last few years. Making two videos that have found their way to MTV, even if it's only "The Cutting Edge." Finishing in the top ten in the writers' poll of the LA Times, Weekly, Reader, and Ink Disease for the third consecutive year. And if all that isn't enough, try making a stab at coming up with a whole new approach, "writing hit songs, or so the proverb goes. With Project Mersh, the Minutemen unveil their newest abstraction in musical concepts. You might be asking yourself, "how could this be?" Sure, the band is great, but hit records are for Madonna and REM, not the Minutemen. Even though the LP is more melodic, cleaner in the vocals, and overall a pretty slick production for the band's standards, you need not concern yourself about writing them off just yet. Mersh is not meant to be mainstream by any stretch of the imagination. After all, D. Boon is not Joe Strummer, George Hurley is not Richard Hell, and Mike Watt is not even John Doe. They're just three guys with a considerable amount of talent and energy to ever be taken that lightly. By the time the final tune delivers its last message, all we're left with is the Minutemen doing what they are best at, simply being the Minutemen.
-Steve Alper (from Ink Disease #9, Summer 1985)