Replacements Reissues Royale
Banner year for the Replacements – eight CD reissues and a book! Looks like they’ll be getting royalty checks for a while – good for them. Also looks like Tommy Ramone (producer of Tim) will be getting some – not so good. I love that album but what the fuck was he thinking?
Don’t tell a soul, but I paid full price for Don’t Tell a Soul. And All Shook Down. I’m not so embarrassed about paying full price for the rest, though. I think reissuing the catalog was a great idea, better than the half-hearted reissues of the Twin/Tone albums from 2002. I’m going to acknowledge that we’re all Replacements fanatics here and not talk about the material we all know and love, instead I’ll focus on the reissue content.
There are tons of extra songs on each album, alternate takes, b-sides, studio demos, etcetera from recording sessions related to each album. The liner notes are detailed and informative (more so the Peter Jesperson-authored discs – the four Twin/Tone albums and All Shook Down – the remaining three seem fawning and weak and not so informative). If I do have to complain about the Jesperson notes, and I do, on All Shook Down he tries a line of bullshit that Paul Westerberg’s vocal style has changed on this album. No, that’s his voice gone to shit from years of boozing (which Westerberg acknowledges in an interview in Magnet from 2002). From Tim: how can “Dose of Thunder” not bee seen as an ode-to-Bob Stinson drug song? The writer actually claims it’s about the weather?
There’s a demo version of “Kiss Me on the Bus” on the Tim reissue that’s got serious balls. Why couldn’t the entire album have sounded like that? Again, Tommy Ramone, what the fuck were you thinking? Actually, Replacements, what were you thinking? Complaints about major labels controlling bands aside, the Replacements aren’t going to release an album that doesn’t sound like the band wants it to sound.
It seems the Replacements remembered they had balls (somewhat) on Pleased to Meet Me as the guitar sound is much better (although there is an indefinable overall “80s sound” to the album). Oh, and apparently East Memphis Slim (lays down keys on some tracks) is not Slim Dunlap. Why do we need ANOTHER cover of “Route 66?” I think I’ve heard more versions of that song than of “Louie Louie.” “Bundle Up” is just a different version of “Jungle Rock,” heard on the 1997 greatest hits All for Nothing/Nothing for All (speaking of, what’s missing from all these reissues – most importantly – is “Beer for Breakfast.” Next most important missing: “Til We’re Nude.” Less, or not at all, important: “Cruella Deville” and “All He Wants to Do is Fish.” No explanation why, either). At least we get “Date to Church,” the sauced Westerberg-Tom Waits duet, on Don’t Tell A Soul. Also, check out the less-pussy demo of “Talent Show.”
The Twin/Tone reissues are gold. There are 13 bonus tracks on Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash, including “If Only You Were Lonely,” Westerberg’s first hint at the direction his songwriting would head in the late ‘80s and beyond. On Stink we get to hear another ballad in demo form, “You’re Getting Married.” Of the outtakes, only “Staples in Her Stomach” should have stayed on the album (“Hey Good Lookin’” and “Rock Around the Clock” are worth only one listen). Hootenanny has some alright outtakes and Let it Be has a cover of T. Rex’s “20th Century Boy.” I guess I have less to say about these earlier (and better, in my not-so-humble opinion) albums because they speak for themselves.
And the book! It’s a pretty decent read, but could be trimmed down and tightened up a bit. Editor Jim Walsh certainly likes to blow smoke up his friends’ asses. There’s too much fawning fan boy bullshit about “the first time I saw the ‘Mats!” Why does the book start with a quote from Billie Joe Armstrong (Green Day)? Why is there only one mention of the Goo Goo Dolls (page 264), the biggest Replacements homage/rip off band (again, in my not-so-humble opinion)? And, goddamn, if I didn’t openly weep at the chapter dealing with Bob Stinson’s death. The story by former drummer of Rex Daisy, G. R. Anderson, about how he was supposed to pick up Stinson for a gig at the exact time he died is positively moving (or made up, I’m not sure which). Buy it anyway, if you haven’t already.