The REPLACEMENTS – ” The Albums ” Plus Everything Else

Posted: September 24, 2017 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Image result for the replacements band

The Replacements were always going to be a risk for any label to sign in the mid eighties. The band’s reputation for sloppy live shows, drunken interviews and overall contempt for anything resembling self promotion was already legendary. Not that any of this ever worried the band, when Sire eventually signed the Mat’s in 1986 they seemed more concerned with keeping up with their local rivals Husker Du (who had just signed to Warners) than proving any doubters wrong.

Paul Westerberg always seemed to understand that for the kind of band he was going to run, danger was a part of deal. Indeed, the Replacements seemed to revel in it. One of their very first songs was a tribute to Westerberg’s great hero and soon-to-be inevitable heroin casualty Johnny Thunders. On “Johnny’s Gonna Die,” Westerberg sings with an offhand casualness: “Johnny always takes more then he needs / knows a couple chords / knows a couple leads / and Johnny’s gonna die.” The sentiment is decidedly not, “Hey, we should probably do something before Thunders finally kicks it!” It’s more like he’s noting the weather outside, an absolutely prosaic dispatch. Westerberg even ends the song with a sort of cheerful refrain of “bye, bye” — it was 10 years before Thunders would finally leave the building, but the Replacements had already skipped ahead to the eulogy.

For all of the tremendous hilarity surrounding the band’s legendary antics, the Replacements’ story is far more tragedy then comedy. The band wasn’t a suicide pact, but they were a sort of four-man Russian Roulette game. Excess bordered on mandatory. A much-repeated (and unconfirmed) story tells of Westerberg confronting the deeply troubled and dependent founding lead guitarist Bob Stinson before a show when Stinson had just finished 30 days in a detox clinic. Westerberg brings him a bottle of champagne and tells him: “Either take a drink, motherfucker, or get off my stage.” It doesn’t matter so much if this is true or not, simply because it is plausible. Being wasted was Bob Stinson’s brief in the Replacements — he really wasn’t good enough a technical player to keep around sober and levelheaded. The fact that he was eventually fired for being overly erratic is an unamusing irony.

All Shook Down [Explicit]

‘All Shook Down’ (1990)

The band’s final LP gets punished for what it’s not – a real Replacements record. Paul Westerberg began ‘All Shook Down’ as a solo effort and only shifted to include his bandmates during sessions. On its own merits, and stripped of ‘Don’t Tell a Soul’’s misguided bombast, the album is pleasant. It is fine. The steady “Merry-Go-Round” has a nice hook and Paul’s sleeve-hearted storytelling is solid – even if, as he looks back, Westerberg takes his band’s legacy more seriously than the boys did in the moment). But middling tempos and hushed shuffles make ‘All Shook Down’ the audio equivalent of beige. Stuck between being a Replacements record and a solo debut, the album doesn’t satisfy in either way. Westerberg’s pen is typically astute and nimble here, noting the soon-to-be-disastrous marriage depicted in “Nobody” and the fractious future of an unsettled newborn in “Sadly Beautiful.” It’s an album reckoning with the consequences of all that has come before. On the final track the band would ever release, “The Last,” Westerberg ruefully acknowledges: “It’s too late to run like hell.”

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