How do you walk away from something as monumental as the Replacements and create music that can be appreciated on its own merits.
You can’t. Ask any Beatle that question… you can’t do it. Everything you do will be judged through the lens of a very large shadow. So now, you have Paul Westerberg circa 1993, nowhere near retirement age with a dump load of songs and no outlet unless he does the unthinkable – release solo records.
This is my theory; even a masterpiece would have been hated by most critics and diehard Replacement fans. Hence the critical under appreciation of 14 Songs the solo debut released by Westerberg in ‘93.
It’s a shame because it really is an awesome record that delivers a different kind of observation than anything Westerberg could have accomplished within the band setting. You get a sense of growing maturity as if he looks back at himself and realizes the mistakes that got him to this place. It rocks at times, is confessional and subdued at others, while keeping a wry and sarcastic tone throughout.
Yes I love the Replacements, but I also have a huge fondness for Westerberg’s solo work. So imagine my surprise when I started searching for his stuff on vinyl a few years back, only to discover there was none.
Until just last year you could only get 14 Songs on CD or cassette. In fact, according to discogs, Sire had not done any sort of re-release since it came out in ’93.
That changed last June when Plain Recordings released 14 Songs on 180 Gram black vinyl with a gatefold cover that had a new design. It sounds great, the packaging is sparse yet cool, and my kids are now familiar with the great sounds of Westerberg as I spin records on Saturday.
You can find it at all your finer record retailers both brick and mortar or online.