The Replacements Album Reviews

Yet another great musical act to come out of the state of Minnesota (see also Bob Dylan, Prince, Hüsker Dü, and The Hold Steady), The Impediments changed their name to The Replacements after they were banned from the majority of Minneapolis’s bars. The group was led by guitarist and songwriter Paul Westerberg, who joined forces with drummer Chris Mars and brothers Bobby and Tommy Stinson, the former a Yes-obsessed lead guitarist and the latter playing bass and merely thirteen years old when the band released their first record.

Because their first album was released in 1981, they’re often lumped into punk, but after their initial releases, they’re effectively a bar band fronted by a singer-songwriter. Paul Westerberg’s songs are often honest and heartfelt, although they’re balanced by his knack for engrossing throwaways. For most bands, including songs like ‘Tommy Gets His Tonsils Out’ and ‘Waitress in the Sky’ on their albums would be problematic, but somehow they succeed in giving the heartfelt songs like ‘Unsatisfied’ and ‘Skyway’ more gravitas.

The Replacements never made it big – they had a knack for career self-sabotage, like a drunken appearance on Saturday Night Live, and they were an often shambolic live band. One show has been famously bootlegged as The Shit Hits The Fans, where they barrel through a bunch of drunken covers like:

But despite an often chaotic career, The Replacements had one of the all-time great album runs – the three albums from 1984’s Let It Be, through 1985’s Tim, and ending in 1987’s Pleased To Meet Me is marked by some great song-writing, and plenty of personality. And while they never made it big, The Replacements’ combination of guitar rock with heartfelt lyrics is similar to Pearl Jam and Nirvana in the 1990s, and it’s certainly aged a lot better than the hair rock that was crowding them out of the mainstream in the 1980s.

Ten Favourite Replacements Songs

Answering Machine
Unsatisfied
Skyway
Little Mascara
Hold My Life
Alex Chilton
Within Your Reach
I’ll Be You
Torture
Never Mind