1. Let It Be (1984)
It’s all here: stirring romance (“Androgynous,” “Answering Machine”), exhilarating throttle (“We’re Coming Out,” “Tommy Gets His Tonsils Out”), utter tomfoolery (“Gary’s Got A Boner”), tremendous production. And that Kiss cover? How dare they move us via the songwriting of Paul Stanley?
2. Sorry Ma, Forgot To Take Out The Trash (1981)
You can feel the wood splintering as this album busts through. A triumph of zip gun punk melting into rock n’ roll branded by the nascent Westerberg’s candor and wit. It’ll make you believe again and again and again.
3. Hootenanny (1983)
Chaotic and chicken fried the same way their live act could be (“Lovelines” is just Paul reading the newspaper over the band’s noodling), is this the truest representation of the ‘Mats? A rambling rush glued together by smudges of incredible melody that club soda sure as hell ain’t gonna get out.
4. Pleased To Meet Me (1987)
Stripped to a three piece with mounting pressure to quote-unquote make it and these dude still deliver massive kick. Every song’s a potential FM hit. We can recognize why this didn’t happen. Society at large basically doesn’t give a rip about Big Star or covered bridges.
5. Tim (1985)
Overcomes the handicaps of an enormously ugly album cover and flat soda production with truly monolithic songwriting. “Bastards of Young,” “Left of The Dial,” “Here Comes a Regular”—legends unto themselves.
6. Stink (1982)
A dip into hardcore punk. According to these dizzy Midwesterners, the genre needs harmonica (“White & Lazy”) and power ballads (“Go”). Plenty savage and fun. Bob Stinson’s leads go off like tracer missiles.
7. The Shit Hits The Fans (1985)
Most artists would bury a recording of a bad gig. The Replacements released this one as quickly as possible. Such is their charm. After a few listens you grow accustom to only hearing sixty seconds of every song that strikes the band’s fancy (including hits by Zeppelin, U2, and R.E.M.).
8. Don’t Tell A Soul (1989)
Their most naked stab for chart glory. Desperation doesn’t taste too bad coming from these guys. That said, they should have gone whole hog and asked Paula Abdul to do something.
9. All Shook Down (1990)
This one gets an asterisk since Paul recorded it as his solo debut and the label railroaded him into filing it under Replacements. Lots of acoustic pop not very removed from the ‘Mats DNA…but definitely not the trouble boys.
From the mealy mouth of Replacements singer Paul Westerberg (left) comes news that the group’s founding drummer Chris Mars “really didn’t want any part” of the band’s September reunion to record an EP of covers for the financial benefit of ailing guitarist Slim Dunlop. Dunlop was partially felled by a cerebral artery stroke in February; Westerberg and bassist Tommy Stinson decided to reform the ‘Mats last month to help their ill friend. Quoteth Pauly O on the drummer sitch:
I was not surprised, but I was a little disappointed. I’d talked to [Chris], I thought maybe he might come down and play with us. That’s fine, he’s totally into painting, and doesn’t want to return to the skins.”
Is Mars still miffed they scrapped most of his work in favor of session drumming for that last Replacements album he was on, Don’t Tell a Soul? Who knows, maybe there’s something else going on (whatever the issue, it appears related to the guy’s former instrument—the last time the Place Mats reassembled, for two new tracks tacked onto the 2006 greatest hits release Don’t You Know Who I Think I Was?, they had to hire freelance drum god Josh Freese ’cause Chris only wanted to sing).
At any rate, that aforelinked Rolling Stone chat with Westerberg is a great reminder of the deft voice rock music’s been missing since Westy’s semi-retirement. Also, please note Paul’s reaction to Color Me Obsessed, the ‘Mats documentary currently farting about the festival circuit:
I recognized most of the people, and some of them I thought, How dare you, you shameful so and so? Why don’t you get a life? I was embarrassed by it more than anything, I guess. Wouldn’t you be, if a movie described every little intricate thing about your life? That thing, the R band, the ‘Mats, they don’t even really belong to us anymore.”
The four song Replacements reunion EP comes out later this year on ten inch vinyl (limited edition, of course) that will be auctioned off online. Just like the old days!