For his first solo album, Mike Watt assembled a different band for each track, creating a veritable who's who of post-punk and alternative rock -- Eddie Vedder, Dave Grohl, Thurston Moore, J Mascis, Frank Black, Evan Dando, Dave Pirner, Henry Rollins, Flea, Lee Ranaldo, Mike D, and Pat Smear all appear, among others. Predictably, the sound is somewhat schizophrenic, but no more so than the average Minutemen album. Ball-Hog or Tugboat? is more polished than anything the Minutemen released, yet looser than fIREHOSE, filled with jazz-inflected breaks and sheer sonic freakouts, but dominated by a surprisingly large number of pop songs. On the power pop rush of "Piss-Bottle Man," Dando sings with more emotion than on most Lemonheads records, and "Chinese Fire Drill" shows an effective folky side to Watt's music. And Watt's own vocals on "Big Train" are as big-hearted, sly, and funny as the album itself.
Ball-Hog or Tugboat? Review
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine