New Replacements vinyl box – The Sire Years to be released on March 29th

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For some hard core fans, The Replacements are the world’s greatest rock ‘n’ roll band. Hyperbole aside, they are definitely one of the most important and influential acts from the 80’s.

The last few weeks have given Mat’s fans a few interesting developments to cheer about. First, Paul Westerberg and Juliana Hatfield introduced the world to their recent collaboration The I Don’t Cares. On March 1st, a new biography by acclaimed rock critic Bob Mehr entitled Trouble Boys: The True Story of The Replacements saw the light of day. Just this past week a new interview in Spin had Westerberg clarify that the Replacements reunion “DID NOT” end with them breaking up again; implying that we may indeed see them reunite in the future. Finally, Rhino records have announced a new vinyl box set – The Replacements: The Sire Years.

The set includes four records the band recorded on Sire between 1985 and 1990: Tim (1985), Pleased To Meet Me (1987), Don’t Tell A Soul (1989) and All Shook Down (1990).

Tim saw Westerberg explore different aspects of his song writing prowess. Songs like “Swingin Party” and “Kiss Me On The Bus” had a more playful ‘house party’ feel that was contrasted by the anthemic “Bastards Of The Young” & “Lay It Down Clown.” Eventually, Rolling Stone would hail it as #136 in their ‘Top 500 Albums of All Time’ and Alternative Press ranked it as 4th in the Greatest Records recorded between ’85 and ’95 list.

Pleased To Meet Me contains some of the most recognized Replacements numbers including their nod to Big Star luminary “Alex Chilton” and the life affirming “Skyway.” The video for “The Ledge” had the distinction of being banned by MTV for its theme of suicide. While Tim still contained elements of the band’s more punk origins, Pleased To Meet Me had moments where you could mockingly envision men in smoking jackets drinking martini’s. Paste magazine ranked it at #70 in their Top 80 of the 80’s list.

Don’t Tell A Soul was the first record to feature Slim Dunlap on guitar after Bob Stinson’s unceremonious departure. In contrast to the two previous more adventurous records, this was pretty much a straight forward rock ‘n’ roll album featuring the Replacements only ‘real’ hit single “I’ll Be You.” Although lacking some of the historical accolades of other albums, Don’t Tell A Soul was both a ‘tongue in cheek’ nod to lack of success while at the same time an attempt to achieve what they so despised. “Talent Show” and “Achin’ To Be” both stand out as highlight tracks.

The Replacements’ epilogue came just as the band was beginning to get mainstream attention with All Shook Down. “When It Began” was nominated for an MTV video award and the LP as a whole found the band nominated for Best Alternative Music Album at the 1991 Grammy’s. Featuring a slew of guests including John Cale (The Velvet Underground), Benmont Tench (Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers), and Johnette Napolitano (Concrete Blonde); All Shook Down saw the disintegration of the band in a glorious sounding finale.

Unlike many recent vinyl retrospectives The Replacements: The Sire Years is downright affordable, with retailers asking just over $70.00 for the four LP set. Any indie/alt rock fan looking to include some Mats tunes on the turntable should be extremely happy with this release. However, act quick… the set is limited to 8700 numbered copies, with some pre-orders containing a bonus 7” of “Can’t Hardly Wait” (Tim version) with “Portland” on the B-side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Need A New Drug or Ten Great Alt-Rock Documentaries pt1

For all us obsessed music fans who love to dig deeper into the psyche of our favourite bands, documentaries are the gold mine that allow that little peek. Of course, don’t scratch too far beneath the surface or you might rub away some of the sheen.

  1. Color Me Obsessed: A Film About The Replacements

How do you tell a story about a band without their music, archival footage or band participation? Color Me Obsessed answers the question by having fans, critics and obsessed music geeks tell the story of the world’s most contrarian band.

 

  1. Smashing Pumpkins: If All Goes Wrong

After the debacle that was the Billy Corgan solo record, filming began on If All Goes Wrong. This 2007 film sees Corgan resume the Pumpkins name with only Jimmy Chamberlain coming back in the fold. Surprisingly, the audiences in the film are indifferent towards new material causing Corgan to wonder about artistic expression and commercial success.

 

  1. Upside Down: The Creation Records Story

One part bands, another part attitude Creation records gets a worthy and shocking documentary. Not only does it feature the story of some Brit-pops best bands, but also how the vision and overwhelming hubris of one man, Alan McGee whose own trials saw the rise and fall of a very influential independent record label.

 

  1. DIG! (Dandy Warhols & Brian Jonestown Massacre)

Decried as more fiction than documentary by the bands involved, DIG! has absolute Spinal Tap moments with band disagreements and so-called ‘dust ups’ that leave no one unscathed. Two rival bands attempting to rise above obscurity in the midst of rockstar excess without the benefit of having been rockstars first.

 

  1. The Flaming Lips: The Fearless Freaks

Chronicling the history of the self proclaimed “art-rock” band whose origins go back to the 70’s, director Bradley Beesley films the band over a fifteen year span covering from 1990 until 2005. The evolution of a band from “no talent garage rockers” to “alt-rock pioneers” is both frightening and life affirming.

Self Sabotage Genius or The Replacements – Pleased To Meet Me

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Pleased To Meet Me should never have worked, yet it stands tall as a masterpiece. Lead guitarist Bob Stinson was out because of substance problems and the remaining band members were stumbling at best. Paul Westerberg’s songs were all over the map, and still the album is full of such gems that you can hardly tell that they had begun to disintegrate.

Recording at Ardent Studios in Memphis with producer Jim Dickinson, it really shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone that the band sound was less their typical brilliant boozy swagger and more an awesome well practised piece of power-pop. Of course, like his hero Alex Chilton, Paul Westerberg attempts to self sabotage his own career aspirations with tunes designed to be hated. The reaction therefore is that fans and critics alike see it as a ‘sign of genius’ – ‘a change of direction’ and rightfully heap praise.

Jazz and soul undertones (“Nightclub Jitters” & “Skyway”) mixed with punk pathos (“I Don’t Know” & “Red Red Wine”) and the aforementioned power-pop gems (“Alex Chilton” & “Can’t Hardly Wait”) help to create an album that demands devotion.

So it seems strange that since its initial release in 1987, Pleased To Meet Me didn’t see a re-master and reissue until 2008. For vinyl there are only two choices, finding an original used copy, which will cost you $50 and up

Or

the 2008 Rhino reissue on 180 gram vinyl. New and unopened copies of Pleased To Meet Me start around the $40 mark and even get some resellers asking as much as $100. While there is a new Replacements 2015 box out right now, there has been no vinyl release date set as of yet.

Your best bet is to hit your local retailers and see if you can track down the 2008 vinyl reissue while you still can.

Legendary and Under Appreciated! or Paul Westerberg – 14 Songs

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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.

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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.

Zero

Zilch

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.

Inspired in Part by Record Store Day – Playlist April 12/15

“Amphetamine: – Steve Wynn and the Miracle Three

Such a great frickin’ driving song if you want to get yourself a speeding ticket… by the way, I don’t recommend the ticket…

“Hoover Dam” – Sugar

I had a review half written called “the Return of Peanut Girl,” but I never finished it. Anyway, Copper Blue sounds awesome on vinyl and you can find it at your better record stores.

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“Deathly” – Aimee Mann

Any excuse to put Aimee Mann on a playlist is a good excuse. Still haven’t heard back from her… I’m guessing she doesn’t read my blog.

“Coming Home” – Leon Bridges

Soul music has a new champion and his name is Leon Bridges. Keep your eyes open folks, this guy is for real!

“Sliver” – Nirvana

Still bummed about missing my shot… maybe another will show up in 10 years.

“You Really Got Me” – The Kinks

After the disappointment of the new Van Halen live, I couldn’t even bring myself to play one of their songs. So here is something way better.

“The Lovecats” – Tanya Donelly & Dylan In Motion

Donelly is awesome and the Cure are awesome, so getting two for the price of one. Now if Robert Smith could cover “Feed The Tree” we… just kidding.

“Someplace” – Nick Waterhouse

He hasn’t put Holly out on Spotify, so I went with “Someplace” from his first record. I will be talking about Holly in the upcoming weeks. Spoiler – it is AWESOME! Buy it here!

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“Ain’t Messin’ Round” – Gary Clark Jr

Just because I wanted to stay in that rockin’ soul vibe.

“My Mind Is Rambling” – The Black Keys

A seven inch split is coming out in Record Store Day of the Black Keys and Junior Kimbrough, so I thought why not throw a Black Keys cover of Junior just for the hell of it. Besides – it fits.

“Touch Me I’m Sick” – Mudhoney

Turns out fictional band Citizen Dick (see movie Singles) is releasing “Touch Me I’m Dick” for RSD 2015. Can’t wait to hear it! Anyway, here is the original song that led to that play on words.

“Everyone Knows” – Joan Jett & the Blackhearts

Jett has a double album being released for RSD, so I put her in the mix… because she is a rock god and I need no other reason.

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“Machine Gun Blues” – Social Distortion

I am so looking forward to getting my hands on that first Social Distortion record next Saturday.

“Alex Chilton” – The Replacements

Another 7” being released this weekend is reason enough… I miss Chilton.

“Back In Your Head” – Tegan & Sara

Um are you picking up on a theme that surrounds a certain date that has rare vinyl being released.

“Runaway” – Del Shannon

I’ll be doing a review on this guy soon.

“I’d Run Away” – The Jayhawks

Read a rather depressing article on these guys recently. Awesome band that can never seem to catch a break…

“The Cuckoo” – Kristin Hersh

Leader of the Throwing Muses and incredible singer/songwriter in a varied solo career (check out Hips & Makers if you need proof) she also has a 7” of “The Cuckoo” coming out on RSD.

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“Brass Buttons” – The Lemonheads

Yep. A split 7” of the Lemonheads and the original Gram Parsons tune is arriving on Saturday.

“Jesus Christ” – Big Star

Only reason I put a Christmas song on a April playlist is because of RSD… irony is, the original release of this song was on a record that had nothing to do with the holiday season either.

Playlist March 15/15

Here it is… A Playlist out on the Day I planned for…

Playlist #3 – March 15/15

Enjoy!

  1. “FOH” – Superchunk

I wrote about them and this song a couple weeks back. It’s the kind of tune that has such a good ‘riff’ that the lyrics cease to matter, which isn’t a bad thing considering it is a bit of an inside nod to music techs (roadies) and crews. Still, you just gotta love that fan made video.

  1. “Have Love Will Travel” – The Sonics

Was reading Paste (I think) a while back, and there was this playlist for the 50 Best Garage Rock Songs ever. This was the number one song on the list and they put forth a really damn good argument for this being the first punk band ever. Regardless, I’m looking to by this stuff on vinyl now.

  1. “Happy Ways” – Joe Walsh

While this song appears on a Joe Walsh record, it is actually the band Barnstorm and doesn’t feature Walsh on vocals at all. It also stands way outside his usual work in terms of song construction. Each piece of the band has stand out moments in this tune that was said to be influenced by music coming north from Mexico to California.  To my ears, this song stands out as rather timeless and I always imagine it being covered by an eight or ten piece band with horns.

  1. “Evangeline” – Matthew Sweet

Like everything on Girlfriend there is a sense of playful desperation hidden within this quest for love. Sweet’s characters never quite get it right, but remain optimistic somehow. Perhaps it is naivety that keeps things light, or just the nature of this record, but a couple decades after its release it still seems to hold its youthful soul.

  1. “Rhiannon” – Best Coast

Somehow Best Coast manages to sweep away the entire ethereal mystic evening nature of this song and turn it into a Sunday stroll on the beach. Weird thing is, it actually works. Rather than ‘Rhiannon drifting into the sunset, she seems to skip away to play in the waves. It’s a different interpretation unlike anything I would have expected. Very Cool!

  1. “Over at the Frankenstein Place” – Susan Sarandon, Barry Bostwick & Richard O’Brien

Despite being an important part of a large picture, I love this song as a standalone piece. It captures my imagination and just makes me all warm inside. Buy vinyl here.

  1. “Fade Into You” – J. Mascis

A most amazing cover of the Mazzy Star classic, it was the single that got away last Black Friday/Record Store Day.  Having never given up on it, it may make it into my collection at some point… soon.

  1. “Hannah & Gabi” – The Lemonheads

The first cover song I learned how to play on my beaten up old 12 string a few years back. Just a simple little song about loves lost and the confusion found as relationships end. Honest in that it really finds no resolution.

  1. “Brill Bruisers” – The New Pornographers

Saw these guys do a quick set down at Sugar Beach in September. They did an awesome cover of ELO’s “Sweet Talkin’ Woman” along with the title track from their amazing record Brill Bruisers.

  1. “California Sun” – The Ramones

What can I say, my kids were Watching Curious George (sequel) the other day and this song was a big part. Besides, I’ll use any excuse to include the Ramones on every mix I do.

  1. “Baby Six String” – Dressy Bessy

Dressy Bessy is on my bucket list of bands to see before I go the way of the Dodo. All it took was one listen to their debut Pink Hearts, Yellow Moons back in 1999 to make me a forever fan. “Baby Six String” is from their 2003 eponymous record, and rumour is, a new album and tour will be happening soon. Check them out.

  1. “The Root” – Kim Deal, Morgan Nagler

Something about Kim Deal has always screamed “coolest person on the planet” to me. Doesn’t matter if it’s the Pixies, the Breeders or her solo stuff, there is always an element of some twisted riff that makes you want to pogo all over the dance floor. Love that she’s selling vinyl singles from her own web site.

  1. “Hailing A Cab In Hell” – Viva Viva

Couldn’t resist putting these guys on after Kim Deal… I mean come on, they have an ep called What’s The Kim Deal?, how could I resist? Besides, they’re heavy garage ‘riff-age’ gets me throwing my hair around every time.

  1. “Whenever You See Me” – Kitty, Daisy & Lewis

When three young brits sound both out of time and modern at the same time, you have a pretty awesome combination. Style jumping and instrument swapping can make them a little hard to pin down, but it sure is fun to try.

  1. “(Ghost) Riders In The Sky” – Johnny Cash

My dad and I didn’t agree on much… pretty much nothing… except that Johnny Cash was frickin fantastic.

  1. “10 Million” – Gina Villalobos

Another artist on my bucket list, I became a fan the first time I heard her play this song. Ever since I’ve been ordering stuff direct from her sight – here.

  1. “I’d Run Away” – The Jayhawks

‘Alt-country’ before the term went both in and out of style, this song is from their best album Tomorrow The Green Grass. Oddly they were Minneapolis peers of Husker Du, Soul Asylum and the Replacements.

  1. “Skyway” – The Replacements

Just a beautiful song for a cloudy day, by a band that helped create the whole ‘alt-rock’ movement of the 90’s. Legendary!

  1. “Committed” – Jenny & Jonny

A fun album of duets by the boyfriend/girlfriend combo… it doesn’t feel like duets at all, but rather a bunch of great songs with two individual vocalists having a great time doing harmony together.

  1. “Thorn In Her Pride” – King Khan and the Shrines

As far as I’m concerned, this would be the band I’d want to play at a very large party. They rock, they swing, and they make you want to dance.