I don’t even know where to start with this one. The Replacements are like an institution in the pop/punk world. I want to say something stupid like “they’re as important as The Beatles” or “they’re a bit like Nirvana” but that doesn’t do them justice. The Replacements started out as a shitty punk band in Minnesota and became something much more, so much more. Without The Replacements there would be no fucking Green Day, I’ll tell you that.
Lead singer/song-writer Paul Westerberg is a genius. You want catchy as hell songs that are also ABOUT something? Then look no further. His lyrics are literate and biting…and yet also sweet and almost naive at the same time. They’re tough as hell and soft as a pillow. He’s that special kind of badass that can write about how sad and lonely he is without coming off like a sissy. For me this is best encapsulated by their song “Unsatisfied.” It’s tough as hell and makes me want to cry it’s so heart-on-their-sleeve the lyrics should be written in blood.
The band evolved from spikey, angry-youngman punk (see the STINK Ep) to more refined power-pop (PLEASED TO MEET ME). Whenever a band changes so dramatically it usually means their is a real artist involved, because in my opinion, a true artist is never content to bang out the same crap year after year. The songs were written 20+ years ago and yet they still seem fresh and relevant. This is 80’s music that doesn’t seem to be 80’s music.
So if they’re so fucking great, why haven’t you heard of them? Well, they were so punk-rock they had this almost pathologically desire to ruin their careers. I’ve seen old MTV footage of them cursing and carousing drunkenly on TV, just trying to piss people off. They basically sabotaged their own careers at almost every turn. They were young, dumb, addicted to drugs, and didn’t really fit any mold corporate America gave them. If they’d come out just a few years later they would have been Nirvana, I’m convinced of that. Really, The Replacements were an unsuccessful Nirvana–in that they refused to play the corporate-shrill game…but the zeitgeist wasn’t with The Replacements like it was with Kurt Cobain & Company. But I don’t feel too bad for them, success would have just ruined the party. It’s more fun to be the under-dog anyway, right?
There are so many good songs, so many 100% perfect albums from this band, I don’t even know what to recommend you check out. I guess start with PLEASED TO MEET ME and LET IT BE. Oh yeah, The Replacements had THE TESTICULAR FORTITUDE to name their 1984 album the same as The Beatles final (chronologically released) album. It would be like if Kanye’s next album was called SGT. PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND. Holy fuck, I’d like to have been there when the label found out.
There’s a Big Star connection in that, like most ’80s rockers, Paul Westerberg worshiped at the alter of Alex Chilton’s Band. The Replacements kick so much ass, I haven’t done them any favors in any of this dribble: please just listen to a few songs and buy their albums. They’re the real deal.