As of today, this blog has a podcast! I stayed up super-late recording a first episode which is all Replacements music. I’m using an all-new podcasting setup, so it’s not as polished as I’d like, but the sound quality is better than what I’ve done in the past. Enjoy.
To subscribe, go to iTunes and search “Rock ‘n Roll Jolly Roger Podcast.” Huzzah.
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.
So much hair-product, so little time.
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?
Little did they realize they'd be naming their 1984 release LET IT BE. I'm sure if they knew they'd have dressed up...
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.
One of my favorite things to do is turn people onto the things that I love. To that end, I’m going to use this blog to promote the stuff I like that’s just as well known as it should be. For my first installment let me introduce to you Big Star.
That is one big star.
I guarantee that you know at least one Big Star song, even if you’ve never heard of the band before. Probably most famous for “In the Street,” which was covered by Cheap Trick and used as the theme song for THAT 70’s SHOW, Big Star continues to influence musicians today. And while “In the Street” is a pretty bitchin’ song, it’s nothing compared to Big Star’s ballads. Frontman Alex Chilton had this amazing, almost supernatural ability to write simple songs that were not only catchy as hell, but heartbreakingly honest. I’m talking make-you-cry-it’s-that-beautiful. The band only put out three albums #1 RECORD, RADIO CITY, and THIRD/SISTER LOVERS (the first two are sold almost exclusively together on one disc) but you know what they say about stars that burn twice as bright…
These men had the balls to call their first record "#1 Record".
As far as 1970’s rock goes, you can’t do much better than Big Star. The band’s production doesn’t sound particularly dated or cheesy, like a lot of 70’s music does (at least to these ears). If you like The Kinks or REM you owe it to yourself to check out Big Star.