Hey Everyone -
I was talking to Christian about how ecstatic I am after hearing that my favorite band of all time, The Replacements, were reforming (as best they can) to play three shows at RiotFest (one at the main festival in Chicago, as well as at the smaller offshoot festivals in Denver and Toronto).
The minute I heard the news I immediately bought my tickets for the Chicago Riotfest and booked flights and hotels. I’ve been waiting for this for over 20 years!!! The Chicago show is the one to hit, as (a) it has the largest and best overall lineup (maybe the best festival lineup I’ve ever seen, including Guided By Voices, Mission of Burma, Public Enemy, Quicksand (another reunion that blew my mind last year), Bad Brains, Bob Mould, X……), and (b) the Replacements famously broke up onstage in Chicago at Grant Park in 1991, you can listen to the entire show here. If you want more live shows (many are legendary, some for performance, others for drunkenness, others for some combination of the two), here’s the spot.
I’ll spare you the story of my life with the Replacements, but suffice it to say that no band has had more influence on me as an overall musician, songwriter, guitar player or human being (for better or worse, mostly for better). Their songs, their attitude, the development of their songs and attitude over time, the trajectory of their career and the countless stories about their exploits, shows, etc. are absolutely core to my own personal narrative. I am not alone in this, and The Replacements are commonly referred to as one of the most influential and underrated bands of the past 30 years. Jeff Tweedy of Wilco is a huge fan, and during Wilco’s covers set at the Solid Sound Festival, they covered the Replacements’ classic “Color Me Impressed” with Tommy Stinson guesting on guitar! Check it out.
Here’s a shot of Paul Westerberg and I from 2002 or 2003. He played four dates in the area (I went to all four shows) and hung out at the tour bus after the show to meet his rabid, cultish fans.
Since Paul and Tommy have decided to get back on stage, and all of their records have recently been reissued with great bonus content (though fanatics like myself have had all of this material in one form or another for years) and are available at Spotify, iTunes and everywhere else, I feel the time is right to offer the FRANK community the same guide I offered to Christian.
I now humbly offer my guide to The Replacements’ studio recordings. The albums are listed in their current order of popularity with me, though I truly love them all, the order below changes weekly and each record has had a stay at number one at one time or another. I’ve singled out certain notable songs on each record, but by no means does this take away from the rest of the material, all of which is worth multiple listens. Each record has a distinct personality, so i recommend listening to complete records as opposed to single tracks. Anyway, here goes:
- Skyway – One of the most beautiful songs ever
- Can’t Hardly Wait – “Jesus rides beside me, he never buys any smokes”
- Never Mind – One of my all-time favorite songs. Kurt Cobain was a big Replacements fan…..
- Valentine – A classic: “If you were a pill, I’d take a handful at my will”
- Alex Chilton – Ultra-catchy tribute to Alex Chilton from Big Star, who the Replacements idolized
- Can’t Hardly Wait – Check out the “alternate version” on the reissue, which was actually recorded during the recording sessions for “Tim”. Different lyrics and way more rockin’.
- Birthday Gal – Unreal that this didn’t make a record. this version is a bit more tentative, but the version on the “All for Nothing / Nothing for All” collection sounds like it’s right off “All Shook Down”
- I Will Dare – For many, the quintessential Replacements song. Peter Buck plays the mandolin solo
- Unsatisfied – Maybe my favorite song of all time, and this is the best version
- Favorite Thing – Rock
- We’re Comin’ Out – Rock x Rock
- Androgynous – Beautiful song, way ahead of its time, often covered these days
- Answering Machine – Another classic, nobody does desperation like Westerberg
- Left of the Dial – One of my favorite songs ever, also often covered, Gaslight Anthem did a great version
- Here Comes a Regular – Another beautiful timeless classic. I used to cover this one a lot
- Bastards of Young – F**king rock immortality. They famously played this on SNL, they were one of very few bands to be banned, Bob crapped in an ice bucket.
- Waitress in the Sky – Tongue in cheek classic tell off tune, I quote this one all the time. This was their second tune on SNL, they switched clothes.
- Swingin’ Party – Another great one that I quote a lot
- Color Me Impressed – One of the first true great Replacements songs, I really hope they play this one!!!
- Within Your Reach – The first beautiful Replacements song to appear on a record (If only You Were Lonely) was the B –side for the “I’m in Trouble” single but didn’t appear on a record
- Lovelines – Classic Replacements ridiculousness, reading the adult classifieds…
- Treatment Bound – One of my all time favorites – “Label wants a hit, but we don’t give a shit!”
- Hootenanny – Drunk and playing each other’s instruments – on the first track on the record. YES. At their final show in Chicago, one by one they gave their instruments to their roadies to finish the tune and walked off the stage.
- One Wink At A Time – Great Westerberg storytelling
- Nobody – same as above
- Sadly Beautiful – Gorgeous bittersweet song. Makes me weepy now that I have kids.
- Attitude – This used to be my personal theme song
- The Last – Fantastic song to end the band’s last record, in the vein of Here Comes A Regular
- Satellite – Classic tune, often played live – Tommy sings lead.
- Achin’ To Be – A perfect song. The band was reportedly really trying (as hard as they ever would at least) for some commercial success on this record, and despite the over-production throughout the album, this tune is a home run.
- I’ll Be You – Another perfect song
- Talent Show – They used to go into “Send in the Clowns” from Porgy & Bess when they played this one live. They also played it when they bizarrely opened the International Music Awards, I remember watching at home on TV.
- Portland – Great tune, refers to a classic drunken mess of a show they did in Portland. They used the outro from this for “Talent Show”
- Wake Up – F**king rocking. Can’t believe it never made a record
- Date to Church – Hilarious drunk in the studio with Tom Waits.
- We Know the Night – Also unbelievable this didn’t make a record.
- Customer – One of my favorite Replacements songs, punk rock love tune
- Shiftless When Idle – Love stealing lyrics from Westerberg, this was one of the first tunes I pillaged in FRANK
- More Cigarettes – Classic early Mats
- I’m In Trouble – Their first single, great tune
- Go – Many people’s favorite Replacements song
- Kids Don’t Follow – Punk rock anthem
- God Damn Job – Great blues on meth
- F*ck School – ‘nuff said
Also worth listening to is the compilation All For Nothing / Nothing For All. The first disc is just a compilation of selections from the band’s major label records (Tim, Pleased to Meet Me, Don’t Tell A Soul and All Shook Down), but the second disc has some fantastic extras, including hitherto unreleased songs, etc.
Happy listening. if you want to join me in Chicago September 13 – 15, email me @ firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll figure it out.