Razzle, dazzle, drazzle, drone: The best of the Replacements

I throw Pavement albums across the room now because I loved them. In my adolescence I pullled singers and players close who abjured virtuosity. That’s the trouble with listening to the Replacements these days. After all, what is their legacy? If I’d had the space in my first review for the Chicago Reader of Bob Mehr’s prodigious Trouble Boys: The True Story of the Replacements I would have assessed their catalog. The revered Let It Be and Bob Stinson-free Tim are roughly equivalent to my ears, the latter by the band’s obvious loss of interest in the fast material. The subject of mixing board manipulations befitting a purported major label breakthrough, Pleased to Meet Me often appalls me: leave “Shootin’ Dirty Pool” to the Fabulous Thunderbirds and “Red Red Wine” to Peter Wolf, gents. Their last two albums are two of the saddest would-be mainstream accommodations released in that Mesozoic Era of college radio crossovers.

But here’s the funny thing about adolescent taste: call it a palimpsest, not Ten Commandments on an Alabama Supreme Court wall. Those albums released before the 1984 breakthrough represent the most salutary kind of famished: Paul Westerberg, the Stinson brothers, and Chris Mars out on the street for a livin’, careening, in Rob Sheffield’s fabulous phrase, in search of cigarettes and cheeseburgers. I regard the later work as a series of decaying tableaux, capturing poses of the inelegantly wasted, ever more mephitic. Uninterested in anything as banal as an arc of a career, Westerberg hid behind a melodic talent he was at pains to roughen, for the melodies conveyed the sentimentality of a coarse alcoholic losing the ability to entertain himself; the point of sentimentality is to impress as many spectators, reluctant and otherwise, with its self-deluded world-historic importance. Hence “Sadly Beautiful” and the mangled pre-Out of Time attempts at dulcet nothingness of All Shook Down. But these developments produced “Alex Chilton,” a half-hearted paean to a hero that, if you think about it, doesn’t work: Westerberg in 1987 could only mythologize his own failures. That’s how sentimentality works — and cripples. But how beautiful Tommy Stinson looks in the video, especially when he suggests he wants to sneeze in your face. The “but” is the Replacemens’ tragedy, and the worm on the hook for the rest of us.

1. Left of the Dial
2. My Favorite Thing
3. I Will Dare
4. Here Comes a Regular
5. Alex Chilton
6. Color Me Impressed
7. Kids Don’t Follow
8. I’ll Be You
9. Skyway
10. Takin’ a Ride
11. More Cigarettes
12. Within Your Reach
13. Can’t Hardly Wait
14. Hold My Life
15. Black Diamond
16. Fuck School
17. Little Mascara
18. Gary’s Got a Boner
19. Kick Your Door Down
20. God Damn Job
21. Waitress in the Sky
22. Take Me Down to the Hospital
23. The Ledge
24. I Won’t
25. Run It
26. Merry-Go-Round
27. Sixteen Blue
28. Answering Machine
29. Swingin’ Party
30. Willpower

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13 Responses to Razzle, dazzle, drazzle, drone: The best of the Replacements

  1. Steve Parys says:

    Completely and utterly disagree. The Mats flaws are charming and I still love every record you mention.

    P.S. The “Stimson brothers”???

    • Tom says:

      Agreed. This clown uses every 10 cent word he can and even after reading Bob Mehr’s incredibly insightful and heartbreakingly laid bare biography (which I kind of doubt) he still doesn’t get the heart and soul of the band. The fact that he’s a big Pavement fan says a lot. They jacked their sound from all the best (and at the time more obscure to most) college rock, kraut rock, etc. bands and had some of the weakest lyrics ever for such a beloved indie band. In fact, Pavement’s popularity shows how desperate the ’90’s was for good old fashioned alt rock, indie rock and roll. No one came close to the work the Mats did in the 25+ years since it all fell apart. You should get some taste and lose some ego. Doing this job isn’t hard. I did it for a couple of years and it was easy.

      • humanizingthevacuum says:

        If you’ve been doing this so long, why are you taking a list from a fellow fan so seriously?

  2. humanizingthevacuum says:

    I love’em too, hence the list. “Stimson” was my fault – the damn Autocorrect.

  3. Patrick says:

    Wow, most pompous writing I’ve seen recently. Left out of the list is Bastards of Young but included is a Kiss cover? Seriously if you’re going to write an article on a subject make sure you know something about that subject, I guess this is the “Alternative Facts” world we live in now.

  4. Mike says:

    I don’t understand this review.

    • Tim Phillips says:

      I don’t really understand it either. It’s not really a bad review, I’m nit criticizing it, but i read it twice and i feel like it went over my head both times. I did like some of the word, and the ventral time. I don’t think I’m generally dumb, and i get a lit if cultural references, but this was a little challenging to understand.

      I really like the replacements, long live the replacements.

      (I’m an old man without my glass and i couldn’t expand the comment entry dialogue, so I’m relying on my phone auto – correct, sorry )

  5. Maura Walsh says:

    Love PTMM. Love ASD. Love “Bastards of Young” on SNL—aberrant, incendiary, singular.
    Say 2 Hail Marys, an Our Father, and listen again.

  6. Matt Bradford says:

    Referring to Tim as Bob Stinson-less is a little hard on your credibility. Obviously entitled to your opinion but hard to believe Bastards and Unsatisfied don’t crack the top 30.

    • humanizingthevacuum says:

      Guess you didn’t Bob Mehr’s excellent book. According to Tommy Ramone, Bob was in the studio for exactly one day of ‘Tim’ sessions. Interpret this point however you like. I still love’em.

  7. Jeffrey Thomas says:

    It’s spelled Westerberg. And Bob played on Tim. He’s literally the bigest figure on the album cover.

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