The party is NOT OVER!

early-mats-record

In fact, some would say the party’s just beginning…bring your own lampshade to Friday’s show in Portland!

So, I got the above record after a screening of the film “Color Me Obsessed” a while back (thank you Jackpot Records). It’s so f’in great, I don’t even know where to begin. The only other ’Mats I have on vinyl is Tim (from my father-in-law, more on that in another post) and the Songs for Slim LP. The rest of the ’ole collection is on cassette and yes, they still work!

Why is this record so special? Evidently, it was limited to a pressing of 400, and features outtakes from their early recordings (duh!). This one is on blue vinyl, but I’ve seen it online in red/hot pink too. Why you need this record:

mats-notes

Arguably the best track on the damn thing is “If You Get Married,” mainly ’cuz you can’t find that song anywhere else. It’s tender, poignant and still has balls. Also, I AM a girl, and love it when Paul wears his heart on his sleeve. But I digress.

early-mats-back

Please note: this album was not produced by ALEX CHILTON.

Buy this album on Discogs.

We’re in trouble…

 

Yeah, so we’re one week away folks. The Replacements play Portland’s Crystal Ballroom Friday, April 10. I can’t hardly wait.

I’m pretty sure the last show The ’Mats played was Austin City Limits in October 2014. Paul wore overalls and frequently played while laying down on a hammock (click on the above link if you haven’t already). The band was tight, just as they have been since kicking off their reunion tour over a year ago.

Some ’Mats fans still doth protest these reunion tours. “It’s not The ’Mats, Bob’s gone,” they’ll say, or “They’re just in it for the money, fuck this reunion shit.” When I first heard they were doing a festival circuit back in 2013, I kinda had the same reaction. I was really skeptical—most reunion tours suck, frankly. Also, my affection for festivals began and ended after the first Lollapalooza. So, I held out hope for a ’Mats US tour of small clubs.

Then I watched the festival mayhem unfold online. Holy crap, did I miss out!

It began with Riotfest! in Toronto and ended at the aforementioned ACL Fest. What a run! I mean Jesus, did they play a shitty show? You tell me—I wasn’t there. Heck, I even watched them play Jimmy Fallon online (I’d share that clip but NBC has removed it).

Why are they so good (again)? Some idears:

  1. It looks like Paul and Tommy are having fun again (a lot of fun).
  2. Dave Minehan on guitar. The guy fucking rocks. Check out his first band, The Neighborhoods.
  3. Josh Freese on drums. Dude also plays with Devo.

Here’s another clip, going waaayyyy back (not) Riot Fest! Chicago (and yeah, that’s J Mascis from Dinosaur Jr. lurking on the side):

 

So, who’s excited about Friday, April 10 in Portland? That would be me.

“Can’t hardly wait, I can’t wait!”

 

Color us all obsessed

Have you seen Color Me Obsessed? Well, if you haven’t: Stop what you’re doing! Read this post. Click the link at story end. The 2011 documentary by Gorman Bechard is a “different sort of rockumentary.” There’s really no music in it, and no, it doesn’t…

The last, best band of the 80s

cover-musician-matsmusician-spreadmusician-tommy musician-paul-page musician-trash-room

What a great cover. There’s the band, in all their ragged glory.

I bought this issue of Musician magazine in 1989, as soon as it came out. Years later, I learned that Jon Bon Jovi wrote a letter to Musician, asking, “How can the Replacements be the best band of the 80s when I’ve never even heard of them?”

Jon — you answered your own question, ya knob! Go fuck yourself.

But seriously now, this cover story remains significant as it tells the band’s coming of age story—from their early days in the Minneapolis punk/hardcore “scene” to “Professional whats, I don‘t know,” as Paul quips during the interview. I’ve read this story about 50 times, and with each read I learn something new. And I still love staring at that photo of Tommy “shootin’ dirty pool.”

It also marks a turning point for the band. When this issue came out, Don’t Tell a Soul just hit the racks. The Replacements were seemingly on the verge, and this article served to give them a push. Too bad it didn’t work. Or is it?

Coming soon, scans of the full article, so you can actually read the damn thing.

Live, incarnated (and inconcerated)


There are many incarnations of The Replacements. There are also many opinions as to which incarnation is the greatest.

I’ll be honest—it depends on my mood.

Today, what I really needed was plenty of thrash, with a little rockabilly and attitude thrown in. That means the original incarnation in their humble beginning. ’81 ’Mats, courtesy of Twin/Tone (twintonedigital on YouTube).

“During the first week of September 1981, Twin/Tone took the mobile recording unit and rented a bunch of video gear and recorded 15 bands live (five nights) at the 7th Street Entry in Minneapolis. These clips are presented as they were recorded live… in set order and very much with the tuning that troubled the night. The Replacements were the middle band of three (Husker Du closed the show) and played two 25 minute sets,” is the official statement on their YT channel.

What I’ve always loved about this footage is just how well it captures the ’Mats raucous spirit. Tommy is like, 14; Bob’s playing is solid and dangerous, Chris is a snarling drum MACHINE (that’s not a dis) and baby-faced Paul is sweating, screaming and still seems gentle somehow.

Favorite cuts: part 3 kicks off with “Johnny’s Gonna Die,” arguably the best track on Sorry Ma…just listen to Paul scream! A while later, they cover “Maybelline.” And don’t miss “I Hate Music,” another gem. Does it get any better than this?

Click on the video above to start watching the entire six-part series. Kudos to Twin/Tone for recording all this, and for sharing it!

Oh, baby, don’t gimme that look

 

“What the hell are we doin’ here?” Paul asks as he and the band launch into Talent Show at the 1989 International Rock Awards.

That’s a good question, Paul. Here’s another Q: what the hell are the International Rock Awards? The name reminds me of the Simpsons episode, “Brother, Can You Spare Two Dimes?” You know, the one in which Homer wins the “First Annual Montgomery Burns Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence.”

This performance is pure ’Mats for many other reasons:

  • They’re playing Talent Show at an awards show.
  • Tommy is cracking up at 0:39.
  • Paul sticks his tongue out during the camera close-up.
  • At 0:56 they just fucking take off (we’ll show YOU!).
  • The lyric “we’re feelin’ good from the pills we took” is censored.
  • Paul changes the lyric, “it’s too late to turn back, here we go!” to “it’s too late to take pills, here we go!”
  • Check out the actor Matt Dillon at 3:22 whistling.

A: The International Rock Awards.

When it began…

Shhh...

Shhh…

I was 15. The year: 1989. My teen angst bullshit craved something more than The Smiths, R.E.M. or even The Violent Femmes. I could only listen to my mom’s early Kinks and Chess blues records so many times.

Enter The Replacements.

As with any meaningful music discovery, the doors were opened by the older generation. In this case, my best friend at the time’s hip, older sister (She hung out with skateboarders! She drank!) Most important—she passed along her tape of The Replacements’ Don’t Tell a Soul. I was hooked.

Obsessively, I read and reread the liner notes. I stared at the photos. Who was that person backstage wearing a work shirt, fishnets and work shoes? I wanted to be her (“You be me for awhile, and I’ll be you,” right?).

Still got it — Don't Tell a Soul tape from 1989.

Still got it — Don’t Tell a Soul tape from 1989.

The songs rocked and rolled (“The rock’s easy, but the roll is another thing…” ― Keith Richards). My faves: Talent Show, We’ll Inherit the Earth and Anywhere’s Better Than Here. There were ballads, too. Rock ’N Roll Ghost is still a tear-jerker.

Of course, for many long-time fans, Don’t Tell A Soul was The Replacements’ “sellout” album. Totally get that. But for a 15-year-old white girl from the Chicago ’burbs, it was real, honest music — more “rock” than anything else out there at the time.

I immediately dove into The Replacements’ early albums and never looked back. That’s how my love affair with The Replacements began.

“We’ll inherit the Earth, but don’t tell anybody…” 

Everyone looks so sad here.

Everyone looks so sad here.

Portland, oh yes!

 

April 10, 2015 is a big day. The Replacements play Portland, Oregon for the first time in I dunno know how long. The last time I saw them, they left the stage and had their roadies finish the set (the infamous ’91 Taste of Chicago Fourth of July show). I wept.

Fast forward 24 (?!) years, and we find what’s left of the ’Mats—Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson—joined by some ace replacements—Josh Freese on skins* and Dave Minehan on guitar.

Unlike many reunion tours, this one seems less about $$$ and more about just fucking playing. Both Paul and Tommy credit their dear friend and former Replacements axeman Slim Dunlap with inspiring the reunion. Dunlap suffered a stroke in 2012 and can now only speak in a whisper.

“You think you have it bad, and then you go and see him [Slim] and you go, ‘All of my troubles are insignificant.’ That’s part of the reason we got together. Not so much the making money, but for the reason that we could – we can stand, and we can play. Whether we’re good or not is irrelevant,” Westerberg recently told Daily Dish.

Funny thing—they’re good. And more relevant than ever. In fact, the general consensus since their 2013-2014 festival stint—they fucking rock.

What can we expect at the Portland show? Hopefully, it will be better than their last gig in Portland (1987!). The show was so bad that The ’Mats actually wrote a song apologizing for their bad behavior. You can listen to that countrified little ditty above.

“It’s too late to turn back, here we go/Portland, oh no…”

See you April 10, boys!

* Original drummer Chris Mars declined touring due to his successful art career, but remains supportive of the reincarnated ’Mats.