Back to that same ’ole place, Sweet Home Chicago

Flannel shirts. Skunky, shitty beer. The blues. A bit of folk. A bit of country twang. Mismatched used car salesmen suits. Honesty. Attitude.

The Replacements are a Midwest band — there’s no denying it. So it’s probably no surprise that one of The Mats’ largest fan bases lies roughly 400 miles southeast of Minneapolis in the City of Big Shoulders — my hometown — Chicago. As The ’Mats gear up for a two-night stint at The Riviera — their first club show in Chicago since the early ’90s — let’s look at the boys’ connection to the Windy City:

  • Chicago was the first major city to catch on to The ’Mats’ infectious blend of punk, rock, country and the blues (New York came second, my friends).
  • Just-slightly-left-of-the-dial Chicago radio station WXRT (93.1FM) was one of the first US radio stations to actively play The Replacements. Their long-standing, late-night show The Big Beat was where I first heard The ’Mats on the radio. No coincidence then that ’XRT is sponsoring the 2015 shows at the Riv!
  • Chicago is the birthplace of the electric blues, home to Chess Records. As Paul Westerberg said in a ’96 interview: “I approach my rock and roll or pop music the way someone else would approach blues. I try to keep it as bare, simple and real to life as possible. Because my true desire, my dream in life—which I have never before revealed—is to be the greatest blues guitar player in the world. There, I said it.”
  • The band essentially broke up in 1991 after their Taste of Chicago gig. See below.

Listen to this live Chicago shit:

The Replacements 1984 at the Cubby Bear Lounge
Why you should listen: Their blistering, bluesy version of “Take Me Down to the Hospital.”



The Replacements Chicago Radio Interview 1987
Why you should listen: The DJ indulges the band by playing Sonny Boy Williamson’s epic Little Village.



The Replacements “last” show in 1991 at the Taste of Chicago
Why you should listen: Their roadies close out the set! The band breaks up.

The words I thought, I brought…

A 1987 issue of Musician featuring an article on “The Real Replacements.”

A 1987 issue of Musician featuring an article on “The Real Replacements.”

Opening spread of 1987 article on The Replacements.

Opening spread of 1987 article on The Replacements.

Digging through my archives, I found a July 1987 issue of Musician magazine, featuring an article on our beloved ’Mats by Bill Flanagan. I wanted to share the damn thing because it’s been collecting dust AND it marks some key changes for the band:

  • The release of Pleased to Meet Me: “The Replacements’ shot at the big time,” says Flanagan.
  • Bob’s departure: “It’s tough,” Westerberg concedes. “Tommy wanted to see Bob straighten up, but he wasn’t and he wouldn’t and he’s gone.”
  • Slim joining the band: “The reason I wanted Slim in the band was to replace my brother. We couldn’t have some guy from L.A. with hair down to his butt come in. It had to be someone I liked,” says Tommy.

Flanagan visited the ’Mats in Minneapolis, just after they infamously threw the Twin/Tone tapes of their early albums in the Mississippi River. The overall tone of the article is intimate, a little dark, but also funny and raucous. Hey, kinda like the band themselves!

Download a PDF of the sidebar, in which the boys talk guitars and amps etc.

If there’s enough interest in this article, I’ll get off my ass and fix my scanner and post the whole article. Or, as I just discovered, you can buy the magazine on eBay. I’ll never let my copy go!

“The words I thought I brought I left behind, so NEVERMIND!”

Once around the weekend…

skim-cover

How sweet are these? A Slim pick AND a Songs FROM Slim adapter.

How sweet are these? A Slim pick AND a Songs FROM Slim adapter.

mats-ep-cover

My, what a busy weekend! On Record Store Day (RSD), we saw the release of two ’Mats-related records and on Sunday, the good people of Denver got one big dose of thunder from the ’Mats at the Fillmore.

The Replacements’ RSD release is a reissue of a four-song 1987 EP, featuring “Alex Chilton,” “Nightclub Jitters” and two B-sides. For the first time ever on vinyl, we can also enjoy Slim Dunlap’s first two albums: “The Old New Me” and “Times Like This.”

I’d already heard all the songs on the Mats’ EP, but it’s a great addition to any vinyl collection (gotta love the cover image). If nothing else, it will remind you what a fucking rocker “Alex Chilton” really is. And “Nightclub Jitters,” well, is always a gem.

The Dunlap RSD release though, is really something special.

Bob “Slim” Dunlap joined The Replacements in 1987 as lead guitarist. I’ll admit as a 15-year-old girl seeing them live for the first time in ’89, I knew nothing of his work—I just loved The Replacements. But I was instantly intrigued by this “slim” dude who seemed to effortlessly play anything and everything. He was laid-back and loose. He reminded me of a younger Keith Richards (I was raised on the Stones).

A Minneapolis rock legend, Dunlap was handpicked by Paul Westerberg for his solid, versatile playing. He’s been dubbed, “one of the last old-school cool guitar players,” according to PopMatters. One listen and I think you’ll agree. Standout tracks on “The Old New Me” include heartbreakers like “Taken on the Chin” and “Love Lost.” On “Times Like This,” Slim takes us back home on “Hate This Town.” Flip the record and the guitar tone on “Cooler Then” is just devastating, the lyrics too.

I really can’t say anything else other than, order the Dunlap reissue now. Kudos to New West Records! All proceeds from the reissue go to the Slim Dunlap Fund.

Follow Songs for Slim on Facebook.

Also, this happened over the weekend:



What the folks in Denver are saying about the recent Fillmore show:

The Replacements at the Fillmore Auditorium in Denver (photos, review)

The ’Mats owe us nothing



Wow. Watching all the shows for the Back By Unpopular Demand tour unfold—or rather EXPLODE—proves that truly, The Replacements owe us nothing.

It’s probably not a coincidence then that The ’Mats played I.O.U for their second encore at the Portland show. Note the little smile from Paul at the end of the video above. In fact, they closed many of their 2013 fest shows with that rocker, too.

If recent fan and critic reports coming out of their two-night stint at L.A.’s Hollywood Palladium are any indication, the train kept a rollin’! “You could feel and see the room swell with energy and joy, both on stage and in the wildly dancing, lyrics-shouting crowd – which didn’t, and nearly wouldn’t, go home when the Replacements were done,” said Peter Larsen of the Orange County Register.

Long-time fan Heather Chakiris attended both nights at the Palladium. Her thoughts on the second night; “I can’t even find the words. JESUS, WHAT A SHOW. WHAT A NIGHT. WHAT A BAND. Closed with I.O.U. THIS BAND IS A FREIGHT TRAIN.”

Paul Westerberg throws his SG to guitar tech during second night of L.A. show. Photo courtesy of @joshfreese on Instagram.

Paul Westerberg throws his SG to guitar tech during second night of L.A. show. Photo courtesy of @joshfreese on Instagram.

Look out Denver!

“Want it in writing, I owe you nothin’.”

Well, here you have it, boys, in writing.

Here are some other folks who agree:

Live Review: The Replacements Still Beautifully Ramshackle at the Masonic
Live Review: The Replacements at Crystal Ballroom, 4/10 
Consequence of Sound review of Seattle show

Die Within Your Reach

“Older, cleaner, still fun.” “Self-destructive…unruly as ever.” “Beautifully ramshackle.” These are just some of the recent media headlines coming out of the ’Mats show in San Francisco. My vote: the last one. Spot on! Of course, I still can’t get the Portland show outta my…

Got the Post-‘Mats Show Blues Again…

  

Thank God (or the Devil) for the Blues—that primordial ooze which eventually morphed into rock ’n roll. The essence of all popular music. Do you ever get the blues?

John Lee Hooker, Sonny Boy Williamson, Sugar Pie DeSanto, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Howlin’ Wolf, Big Mama Thorton…I love it all. Especially when it makes me feel worse than I already do. You just go down…

I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a case of Post–’Mats Show Blues. It happens every time I’ve seen ‘em. You replay the show in your mind, over and over. You wish you were onto the next show. Which I guess is why sharing the above video feels so good. We can keep it going.

“You’ll get the blues all night,” Paul threatened after the above number, which we‘ll call “Whole Foods Blues” for now.  Later, he grabbed a harmonica and just riffed away. One fan then called out to Tommy for “Little Village,” a 15-minute-plus recording by Sonny Boy Williamson the ’Mats made WXRT-Chicago (93.1FM) DJ Johnny Mars (or was it Frank E. Lee?) play during a 1987 interview. Fortunately (or unfortunately) that cover didn’t happen live.

There were other musical interludes during the Portland show—a few riffs off Sabbath’s “Iron Man,” some T. Rex, but the ’Mats’ version of the blues always gets me. Don’t start me talkin,’ I’ll tell everything I know.

Now if only they played a Stones cover, maybe my mood would be a little less dark today? Nah!