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!