Why You Should Know The Replacements – Opinion

Essential Listening

I recently saw a list of videos on YouTube, which someone had titled, “The Replacements: the Greatest Band of the Eighties.” In music journalism, you’ll often find that superlative thrown at the ’80/’90s alternative rock band nowadays, like in this 2014 Rolling Stone piece prompted by a (sort of) reunion of the band: “The Replacements: The Greatest Band That Never Was.” The sub-headline reads: “The Replacements were the most exciting rockers of the Eighties to not hit it big. Can they survive a reunion?” The answer, it turned out, was no (they went their separate ways the next year).

But as the bio at Discogs.com notes, by 2006, they weren’t really the Replacements anymore. The original line-up, which was formed in 1979, featured brothers Bob Stinson and Tommy Stinson on guitar and bass respectively, with Paul Westerberg singing vocals and Chris Mars playing drums.

The remaining members of the band, including Chris Mars (the original drummer) and Bob Stinson (who died in 1995), gathered to record new songs for a Replacements compilation.

Anyway, that compilation’s new tracks — “Pool and Dive” and “”Message to the Boys” — are (as far as I know) the last music the band made together. And, at this point, you’ve got to think there won’t be anything more.

Another downside, in my opinion, to the “reunion” — of arguably the Twin Cities’ biggest, musical export after Prince Rogers Nelson:

The band no longer included Bob “Slim” Dunlap, whom I think of as their guitar player (from 1987 to the band’s first break-up in ’91). That’s the time period when their two most-popular records  — “Pleased To Meet Me” (’87) and “Don’t Tell A Soul” (’89), and the last one, “All Shook Down” (’90), came out.

Dunlap went on to some minor, solo success with his record “The Old New Me” (1993), with the aid of airplay on college and alternative radio, and the constant churn of touring; In fact, kind of by accident, I met him and his young bandmates (Slim Dunlap Band) before a eardrum-blistering, ’93 show in Cincinnati.

Bassist Tommy Stinson came out with his post; ‘Mats project, Bash & Pop (this 2017 live appearance on
KEXP (which is quite cool):

I vaguely remember the catchy pop Chris Mars released, like “Popular Creeps” below, from his “Horseshoes And Hand Grenades,” but he’s mainly spent the intervening years as a visual artist/painter. The linked interview is very interesting.

Paul Westerberg is the solo artist with the greatest success. Some people might know this single, from the “Singles” (’93) soundtrack:

This got me thinking about Minneapolis’ great back catalogue. And while I’m not sure if I agree with the Rolling Stone writer’s statement they were the “best band” of the decade, they were pretty darn good (and completely underappreciated)! Rolling Stone and other publications didn’t pay them enough attention when they were still a viable business. It’s a shame.

So, if you’re unfamiliar with the band, it’s not really your fault.

I think these are their most memorable tunes. Let’s take a listen…

Just one note: I first heard the name “Alex Chilton” because of this song/video (It lead me to “discover” that Big Star’s singer Alex Chilton was also in a much more famous band, Box Tops, of course.)

Here’s the list I “tuned in” to, to get you started (or reacquainted). It Correctly starts with “Alex Chilton.”


Essential listening verdict: You can’t understand the story of American alternative music without knowing the Replacements’ music, which should be as appreciated as R.E.M. or Wilco — maybe more.

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