The Replacements start their 3-in-a-row brilliant albums with Let It Be

The Replacements (medium.com)

The Replacements

Introduction

In 1984 The Replacements released their Let It Be and started the peak in their career, which would last for 3 albums. A look back at the fantastic Let It Be, Tim and Pleased To Meet Me.

The Replacements

In 1978 the Minneapolis based band Dogbreath was founded by brothers Bob and Tommy Stinson. It wasn’t before long drummer Chris Mars was added to the line-up. After a quest for a singer, the band was completed with the arrival of Paul Westerberg. After Westerberg joined the band the music was handled more earnestly. In the early days liquor and drugs were important, even more so than the music. Unfortunately, this would remain a big problem throughout the band’s entire career and ruin many shows.

The band name was replaced by The Impediments. Using that moniker the band played only one disastrous show: the band was heavily intoxicated. The solution was to change the band name once again: The Replacements.

The Replacements - Sorry Ma, Forgot To Take Out The Trash, Stink & Hootenanny (amazon.com)

The Replacements – Sorry Ma, Forgot To Take Out The Trash, Stink & Hootenanny

The band recorded a demo in 1980 and gave it to the owners of Twin/Tone Records, resulting in the band securing a deal with the little company. Because the band had their suspicions in regards to the music industry, the band didn’t sign a contract, but worked under an aural agreement. Westerberg went to work and wrote enough songs for the debut album Sorry Ma, Forgot To Take Out The Trash which was released in August 1981 and was very well received. the album contained the song Somethin to Dü, a tribute to that other punk/alternative rock band hailing from Minneapolis, Hüsker Dü.

In June 1982 Stink, an EP written and performed with punk in mind, was released. But the band wasn’t really comfortable within the punk idiom: “We write songs rather than riffs with statements”.

Hootenanny, which was released in April 1983, made the band gain an audience outside of Minneapolis for the first time. So, a tour through the US was organized. They also played as a support act to R.E.M., but weren’t really successful. Westerberg: “We’d much rather play for fifty people who know us than a thousand who don’t care”.

It was time for a follow-up.

Let It Be

The Replacements - Let It Be (gethip.com)

The Replacements – Let It Be

Let It Be was released on October 2nd, 1984. The band opted for a more melodious and mellow route. The band had had it with loud and fast, and was in search of more sincere music and feeling.

The band had asked R.E.M.’s Peter Buck to take on production duties, but when they convened the band had too little material ready.

The album’s title is a deliberate statement: “our way of saying that nothing is sacred, that the Beatles were just a fine rock & roll band. We were seriously gonna call the next record Let It Bleed.

Review

A fantastic rock ‘n’ roll album which signaled the start of a trilogy of beautiful alternative rock albums. The wish of creating more sincere music was perfectly executed. The songs are all equally great and catchy, without selling short to the “alternative” feel of their previous albums.

KissBlack Diamond cover is quite remarkable. But this served a purpose: a ‘fuck you’ statement to the punk movement that held the band in high regard, but was extremely conservative as well. Punk once embodied innovation and change, no rules and freedom, but the conventions about what was and what wasn’t punk, were very rigid. At live shows in particular, the band often played covers just to piss of their (punk)audience.

Songs

All songs written by Paul Westerberg, unless stated otherwise.

  • I Will Dare
  • Favorite Thing *
  • We’re Comin’ Out *
  • Tommy Gets His Tonsils Out *
  • Androgynous
  • Black Diamond #
  • Unsatisfied
  • Seen Your Video
  • Gary’s Got A Boner ~
  • Sixteen Blue
  • Answering Machine

* Paul Westerberg, Tommy Stinson, Bob Stinson, Chris Mars
# Paul Stanley
* Paul Westerberg, Tommy Stinson, Bob Stinson, Chris Mars

The players

Replacements

  • Chris Mars – drums, vocals
  • Bob Stinson – guitar
  • Tommy Stinson – bass, vocals
  • Paul Westerberg – vocals, guitar, piano, mandolin on I Will Dare, lap steel on Unsatisfied

Additional

  • Peter Buck – guitar solo on I Will Dare
  • Chan Poling – piano on Sixteen Blue
The Replacements - The Shit Hits The Fans (paulwesterberg.com)

The Replacements – The Shit Hits The Fans

Next

Let It Be was very well received and the band gained the interest of major record companies. They regularly played shows where record company representatives were in attendance. The band often knowingly played bad with a lot of covers. On January 25th, 1985, the cassette-only release The Shit Hits The Fans was released which serves as a primary example of the band’s performances in those days. Recorded in November 1984, the 24 songs only contained 5 band originals.

Yet, there was one record company who dared to sign the band: Sire Records. The band was happy with the company that had signed The Ramones years back.

Tim

The Replacements - Tim (amazon.com)

The Replacements – Tim

Tim was released on October 14th, 1985, on the Sire Records label. The album was produced by Tommy Ramone (using his real name Tommy Erdelyi). Westerberg’s influence is growing, this album only contains one song with writing input by other band members.

Review

Once again a fantastic album, even more melodious and introducing acoustic instruments and songs. Beautiful songs that show a band that’s willing to grow and act more professional. More mature and melancholy, but still without the band lapsing into “rock ‘n’ roll posing” or disavowing their punk roots.

Songs

All songs written by Paul Westerberg, unless stated otherwise.

  • Hold My Life
  • I’ll Buy
  • Kiss Me On The Bus
  • Dose Of Thunder *
  • Waitress In The Sky
  • Swingin Party
  • Bastards Of Young
  • Lay It Down Clown
  • Left Of The Dial
  • Little Mascara
  • Here Comes A Regular

* Chris Mars, Tommy Stinson, Paul Westerberg

The players

Replacements

  • Paul Westerberg – guitar, piano, vocals
  • Chris Mars – drums, background vocals
  • Bob Stinson – guitar
  • Tommy Stinson – bass

Additional

  • Alex Chilton – vocals on Left Of The Dial
  • Tommy Erdelyi – guitar solo on Kiss Me On The Bus
The Replacements - Saturday Night Live 1986 (theguardian.com)

The Replacements – Saturday Night Live 1986

Next

The album was even more successful than its predecessor. The band toured the rest of 1985 and the beginning of 1986. At the very last minute the band was asked to perform at the famous TV show Saturday Night Live on January 18th, 1986, a big opportunity for the band to present themselves nationwide. It was a complete fiasco. The band was drunk and ‘drugged-out’, played very poorly and cursed away. In fact, the performance was so bad, that the band was banned from the show. The band wasn’t allowed to return ever again (years later Paul Westerberg would perform as a solo artist).

In August 1986 the band fired founder and guitar player Bob Stinson due to his serious problems with alcohol and drugs, even though he didn’t really out-do the others. Another theory suggests that Stinson quit the band, because he (openly) preferred the louder, faster music and that wasn’t the route Westerberg advocated. The band had been reduced to a trio.

Pleased To Meet Me

The Replacements - Pleased To Meet Me (thecurrent.org)

The Replacements – Pleased To Meet Me

Pleased To Meet Me, the only album the band recorded as a trio, was released on June 17th, 1987. Most of the songs stem from the time Bob Stinson was still part of the band. However, his contribution was null. Rock, soul and even jazz enter the sound scape, making the sound fuller, more stylish and varied.

The saxophone enters the music for the first time as well. One song even sees the addition of a complete horn section. Big Star’s Alex Chilton plays guitar and lends his name to the song Alex Chilton.

Review

Pleased To Meet Me is my personal favorite album by the band. I like the diversity, the multiple musical realizations. It is also the last album of the trilogy of great Replacements albums.

Songs

All songs written by Paul Westerberg, unless stated otherwise.

  • I.O.U.
  • Alex Chilton *
  • I Don’t Know *
  • Nightclub Jitters
  • The Ledge
  • Never Mind
  • Valentine *
  • Shooting Dirty Pool *
  • Red Red Wine
  • Skyway
  • Can’t Hardly Wait

* Chris Mars, Tommy Stinson, Paul Westerberg

The players

Replacements

  • Paul Westerberg – vocals, guitar, piano, harmonica
  • Tommy Stinson – bass, background vocals and guitar on Can’t Hardly Wait
  • Chris Mars – drums, percussion, background vocals

Additional

  • Jim Dickinson (East Memphis Slim) – keyboards on I.O.U., The Ledge, Valentine, Can’t Hardly Wait and background vocals on I.O.U.
  • James “Vito” Lancaster – background vocals on I.O.U., Alex Chilton and Shooting Dirty Pool
  • Teenage Steve Douglas – saxophone on I Don’t Know and bass flute on The Ledge
  • Prince Gabe – saxophone on Nightclub Jitters
  • Luther Dickinson – guitar solo on Shooting Dirty Pool
  • Alex Chilton – guitar on Can’t Hardly Wait
  • Max Huls – strings on Can’t Hardly Wait
  • The Memphis Horns – horn section on Can’t Hardly Wait

Next

An elaborate tour followed the album’s release. The band recruited guitar player Slim Dunlap and fit in so well, that he was officially added to the band following the tour.

The Replacements - Don't Tell A Soul & All Shook Down (amazon.com)

The Replacements – Don’t Tell A Soul & All Shook Down

After the trilogy

In 1989 the album Don’t Tell A Soul was released, which was a definite attempt at achieving real success. Despite some great songs, the plan didn’t work out. Following a disastrous tour as the support act to Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers, Westerberg recorded the album All Shook Down, but was forced to release it as a Replacements album in 1990.

Chris Mars left the band, forcing the band to go on tour without him. The band decided to call it a day and went on a farewell tour. On July 4th, 1991, the band played their last show in Chicago.

Bob Stinson, who was fired/had quit in 1986, died in 1995 after years of drugs and alcohol abuse. He was just 35 years old.

Paul Westerberg launched a successful solo career. The other members remained active as musicians.

On June 13th, 2006, Rhino Records released a compilation album by the band: Don’t You Know Who I Think I Was?, including two new songs. Both had been recorded by the remaining original band members.

Reunion

The Replacements - Last US Tour (paulwesterberg.com)

The Replacements – Last US Tour

On October 3rd, 2012, it was announced that the band was back together working on a new EP. The EP was titled Songs For Slim, with the proceeds going to former band member Slim Dunlap who had recently had a stroke. The 250 copies were all auctioned off.

On August 24th, 2013, the band played their first show since 1991. Despite some new music (on-line release of Poke Me In My Cage on December 14th, 2014) and reports the band was working on a new album, Westerberg made an onstage announcement on June 5th, 2015, that the show that night would be their final one.

In closing

What do you think about The Replacements? Do you also prefer the trilogy mentioned in this article or the (punky) beginnings? Let me know in the comment section below.

Video/Spotify
This story contains an accompanying video. Click on the following link to see it: Video: The Replacements start their 3-in-a-row brilliant albums with Let It Be. The A Pop Life playlist on Spotify has been updated as well.

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