I recently finished Jim Walsh’s excellent oral history about the Replacements.  If you like the band, read the book.

Theirs is a strange story, I think.  It’s probably a minor miracle that they were a band as long as they were, or that they managed to produce so much good (and varied) material.  My first exposure to them was their early 1986 appearance on SNL, and I remember thinking the songs sounded pretty good, but that Bob Stinson was obviously some kind of maniac.  Soon after, I believe I may have even mulled over purchasing Tim at my local MusicLand, but opted instead for something like R.E.M.’s Fables of the Reconstruction (fair enough), or Simple Minds’ Once Upon A Time (ah, misguided youth).  Eventually, I checked out Pleased to Meet Me shortly after it was released in 1987, loved it, and checked out the rest of the catalogue as the years went by.

Now, they probably have three records in my top 100, and Hootenanny and Let It Be are both way up on the list.  I think they are one of the unique, quintessential American bands ever, and certainly one of the best things to happen to rock music in the 1980’s, which their career pretty well spans.  They started as a fast punk rock band and ended up making some of the most beautiful, well-crafted pop songs around.  It’s a crime that “I Will Dare” wasn’t the teenage soundtrack to the year 1985.

Damn you, Simple Minds!

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One Response to Replacements

  1. Steve C says:

    I can’t believe no one has commented on this, yet. My God, the Replacements were huge. I was never a big Hootenany fan, but the trio of Let It Be, Tim, and Pleased to Meet Me were huge in my college music education. I’m a big fan of Paul Westerberg’s songwriting, and even though most ‘Mats fans eschew it, I rather like All Shook Down from a songwriting point of view (even if it really is Westerberg’s first solo LP).

    In ’96 or ’97 I won some tickets off the radio to go see Westerberg perform in Austin at the Austin Music Hall. It was the night of the show, so I scrambled to find a friend to join me, and we left as soon as I got off work. I was kind of stunned in that he played probably 75% Mats songs, considering he just had a new LP come out. And he was in great spirits (remember, he was sober by this point). In all, it was a fabulous show and one I’ll always remember from my time in Austin. Not as cool as my birthday show of Sugar at the now torn-down Liberty Lunch where we were next to the stage and my friend Mary stole a set list as a present for me, but still pretty damn cool.

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