Punks, drunks, and flunks. We have arrived at the first installment from one of my favorite bands, The Replacements (lovingly referred to as The Mats by fans, short for Placemats). What’s so punk about The Replacements is they don’t lay behind a constructed facade. They are wed to personal meanings and convictions. The Stinson guitars are loud and erratic but they don’t overshadow the sentimentality of the heart on his sleeve Westerberg.
I’ll go into the band’s formative years in subsequent posts, but Tim is the Mat’s last album with original guitarist Bob Stinson, forced out due to his self-destructive drug and alcohol habits. The howling anthem “Bastards of Young” would be the closest the mats ever got to a “hit.” I love how The Replacements track their songs. They always open the album with a hook. “Hold My Life” puts Westerberg’s vulnerability on full display. “Kiss Me on the Bus” appears to capture a desperate Paul, but I see it as more of Westerberg’s fearless ability to express himself. “Waitress in the Sky” begins the album’s beautiful core. A cheeky song for his sister, an airline stewardess. “Left of the Dial” is arguably their finest track. A love song thru college radio, the channels that tend to be on the lower frequencies, FM 88-92. The record ends with a beautiful tale of a remorseful barfly in “Here Comes a Regular.” Just Paul here and an acoustic guitar when out of the blue comes a subtle, lulling piano. Punks yes. Pop and classic rock at their core.
The Replacements aren’t trying to convince you of anything. They don't care about that. They aren’t trying to change you. Westerberg, better than most, thinks about situations in life and simply expresses what he believes about them. Sounds easy. It’s not. So many of us live behind some fear of acceptance from others. He finds a way to be so attached to the moment that he allows himself to be detached from the outcome. Think about the power of that.
Favorite Tracks: “Hold My Life” “Bastards of Young” “Kiss Me On The Bus” “Left of the Dial” “Swinging Party” “Here Comes A Regular”
Pressing: Sire-92 53301. Canadian Original. 1985.