Take their Stink EP out of the equation, and The Replacements were perhaps less a Punk band than the next logical progression of good ol' tried-and-true American heartland Rock. They themselves were punks, but Paul Westerberg's songwriting leaned towards guys like Tom Petty and Bob Seger just as often as they did towards The Stooges or Ramones. By the time Let It Be hit in 1984, Westerberg was writing nearly as many songs about love and heartache as he was about getting drunk and getting into misdemeanor troubles (or bassist Tommy Stinson's tonsils). He also wrote plenty of philosophical songs about the vagaries of life and youth and the human condition, but they had little in common with "Let's Lynch The Landlord" or "New York's Alright If You Love Saxophones"...
In terms of Punk (if we want to cling to that term for another sentence or four) I'd say The Replacements had the most in common with The Clash. Musically, both bands may have began loud and fast and short and straight, but neither was ever afraid to embrace the older rock styles that Punk was generally revolting against, and each made their consensual "classic album" on their third try (not counting Stink) - London Calling from The Clash, and Let It Be by The 'Mats.
My favorite Replacements
album is Tim
, which song by song, is easily the strongest album in their catalog. There are no songs about tonsils, no KISS covers, just one golden nugget after another, and that includes "Waitress In The Sky"...Consider that their best-known song, "Can't Hardly Wait", was inexplicably left off Tim
, and that album couldn't possibly be ignored by critics or fans. One of the all-time classic Rock albums, no matter what subgenre.The Replacements: Hootenanny: "Bad Worker" [mp3]
Anyways, the label triumvurate of Twin/Tone-Ryko-Rhino
has just remastered and re-released The Replacements'
first four recordings, complete with an ample sampling of demos, alternate takes, etc. I'm glad that this is happening, because it once again shines a bright light on a band that deserves as much fucking light as anyone is willing to offer 'em. However, I have to agree with a recent Paul Westerberg interview I read (where? I don't remember) in which he has misgivings about releasing outtakes and rehearsal tapes...They're just not that good - not really good enough to be be released, and only of interest to the hardcore fans, who probably have most of this stuff already anyways.
That's a sentiment I agree with in principle. Shit gets left off albums, or gets relegated to a B-Side (kids, that's a reference to the second "non-hit" song found on the flip side of a 45rpm single) for good reason, and they don't serve anybody much good except for completist collectors and inquisitive historians...
Any label guy (or gal) with at least one testicle and the ways and means, should really clean up some of the outstanding (and horrifyingly bad but entertaining) bootlegs that have been floating around out there for the past two decades...The infamous Inconcerated
bootleg, for example, which just so happened to have been recorded at the UW-Milwaukee Union in 1989, and I just so happened to have attended...Sure, Slim Dunlop was on guitar by this point, and the band was mostly sober by then, but it was an amazing show nonetheless, with the band as tight and powerful as they had ever been...I've got the cassette somewhere in my archive, but I just don't feel like weaseling through all those boxes in the basement, ya know? Anyways, legitimate release of a few of these bootlegs would be infinitely more interesting and insightful to everyone - the newbies, the casual fans, and even the more hardcore...Time will tell, I suppose.
Until then, I urge all of you to drop the lucre and pick these up today...Let It Be
should already be in any self-respecting rock fan's collection, but Sorry Ma, Forgot To Take Out the Trash
, and even the Stink EP
, are worthly slabs of sound.
And stay tuned - later this year we'll see the same re-release treatment from The Replacements'
later recordings on Sire, when our Twin City heroes had honed their chops to a fine, fine edge, and Westerberg's songwriting was at it's absolute peak...
And who knows, maybe Westerberg's highly underrated solo debut, 14 Songs
, will be honored in a similar fashion...Hotcha! Hank
Labels: album covers, FILE UNDER POWER TRASH, mp3, music, Something 4 The Weekend, The Replacements