Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Band Rediscovery: The Replacements

It's an absolute miracle that I hadn't gotten into the Replacements before now. Back in college, I was a huge Vagrant records kid, and probably listened to every band about a thousand times. Except for Paul Westerberg (lead singer of the Replacements), that mysterious old guy on the label who wasn't doing shoulder-sleeve emo or hardcore lite. I knew a few of his songs, and I knew a lot of obsessed Replacements fans, and I knew that crazy video that's always in top ten lists where all you see is a speaker pulsating.

But then I saw Adventureland, with its superb late 80s indie soundtrack. I tracked down pretty much every song in the movie, and a LOT of them are by the Replacements. Classic jangly guitar rock of the best kind, celebrating youth and nihilism and all the things we get nostalgic about. Keep in mind that this was around the time that alternative music was just getting started, punk was over, the radio was deluged with overproduced crap (and HAIR METAL!) So I imagine the Replacements were a breath of fresh air to kids looking for something else, anything else.

The band themselves self-destructed in a pretty spectacular fashion. Never able to let go of their anarchist roots, they decided that in every tv performance or industry show they would get hammered and sabotage their own careers. There are hilarious videos out there (track down the SNL performance for an absolute doozy of drunken lyrical fumbling. They are one of very few acts that were actually BANNED from SNL, that paragon of good taste).

Here are two of my favorite songs by them:
Can't Hardly Wait - from 1987's Pleased to Meet Me
Bastards of Young - From 1985's Tim

Also, here's the original demo of Can't Hardly Wait, which I actually think is better than the final album release (even though some of the vocals are a bit rough, but you can really hear their punk roots in this version):


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