Ring Spiel Tour '95

Ring Spiel Tour '95

by Mike WattMike Watt


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After the unexpected commercial breakthrough of Nirvana in 1991, major record labels went on a feeding frenzy, signing underground bands left and right in the hope of finding the next big thing. It was Columbia's good fortune to have already struck a deal with a guy who had large supplies of both talent and indie cred. Mike Watt and his post-Minutemen band fIREHOSE jumped to Columbia for the release of their fourth album, Flyin' the Flannel, and after the group broke up in 1994, the label had high hopes for Watt's solo debut. Arriving in 1995, Ball-Hog or Tugboat? found Watt collaborating with a stellar array of alt-rock notables, and the subsequent tour was no less impressive. While Watt didn't publicly announce who was backing him up, word soon spread that his band included Dave Grohl on drums and guitar and Eddie Vedder on guitar and backing vocals. (Grohl's Foo Fighters were one of the opening acts, on their very first tour, while Vedder's side project Hovercraft were also on the bill.) The prospect of seeing two alt-rock heroes backing up a California punk legend proved to be a hot ticket, and a mobile recording truck showed up to record the tour's stop at Chicago's Metro on May 6, 1995. Ring Spiel Tour '95 is a straightforward document of the band's set, and if this isn't the strongest band Watt ever worked with, there's abundant passion, sweat, and heart in these performances. Watt's bass and vocals are up front here, and if his craggy, regular guy voice isn't always musical, it suits the workaday tone and attitude of his songs well, and his fluid but forceful bass work is, as always, inspiring. Grohl and William Goldsmith take turns playing drums (and sometimes double up on two kits), and both of them interact with Watt quite well. Grohl and Pat Smear add some guitar in this show, but it's Vedder who handles most of the six-string work, and he fares surprisingly well; he's not a chops-intensive wizard, but his feel is excellent and he kicks up as much ruckus as Watt and his bandmates need. And the set, which is dominated by Ball-Hog or Tugboat? material but also dips into some old Minutemen material (and a cover of Madonna's "Secret Garden" sung by Smear), gives Watt all the room he needs to be himself, which is always his best creative strategy. Mike Watt is too much of a team player to seem fully comfortable with stardom, and it's not insignificant that he'd hire a backing band that could likely upstage him for his first major tour as a solo artist. But Ring Spiel Tour '95 preserves one night in the life of a working musician playing strong and sincere for his audience, and you can't imagine Watt would want it any other way. A great listen, and an indispensable document of the '90s alt-rock boom giving some payback to a founding father.

Product Details

Release Date: 11/11/2016
Label: Sony
UPC: 0889853732227
catalogNumber: 537322
Rank: 96551

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Mike Watt   Primary Artist,Bass,Vocals,Background Vocals
Pat Smear   Vocals,Slide Guitar
Dave Grohl   Guitar,Drums,Background Vocals
Eddie Vedder   Guitar,Vocals,Background Vocals
William Goldsmith   Drums

Technical Credits

Daniel Johnston   Composer
Jim Lane   Production Director
Andre Betts   Composer
Eric Bloom   Composer
Albert Bouchard   Composer
Madonna   Composer
Chip Kinman   Composer
Tony Kinman   Composer
Sandy Pearlman   Composer
Eddie Vedder   Composer
Mike Watt   Composer,Producer
Raymond Pettibon   Composer
Joe Carducci   Composer
Tim Powell   Engineer
Mike Harnett   Executive Producer
Timothy J. Smith   Producer
Jerry Bryant   Executive Producer
Nanette Roeland   Cover Art

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