“Read about your band in some local page, didn’t mention your name”
The hard luck and struggle of the down at heel bar band makes for some beautiful pathos. No one captured the community spirit and hang dog humour of toilet circuit rock and roll like The Replacements. I’ve featured their sloppy cover of Kiss classic Black Diamond on Kiss Kovers Week and I’ve hosted their tribute to underground hero Alex Chilton during a brief sojourn into the Big Star cul-de-sac (I toyed with the phrase the hamlet nebula)
For anyone who has spent a significant amount of time in or on the fringes of an alternative music life The Replacements ring loud as a bell only the battle worn can hear. There’s a truth, a bonhomie and a beauty to the knock about sound. The upside-down’s worst kept secret were never huge in their initial incarnation. And yet since the original absence their reputation mushroomed.
“Pretty girl growin’ up, playing make up, wearing guitar, growing old in a bar, growing old in a bar”
There was a record shop I loved in my college town (Shout out to REX RECORDS! R.I.P) that sold loads of alternative, punk and indie stuff I’d never seen or heard of before. The legendary DJ Scruff worked behind the counter during the day and seeing my interest in bands as unrelated as PWEI, Pixies, early Aerosmith and Patti Smith he stepped in one day when I was buying Paul Westerberg’s debut solo album and inquired about my ‘Mats’ knowledge.
I knew who they were and a few songs from ‘being around’ but I’d not got anything by them. Scruff soon saw to that and like any good dealer he got me hooked with an easy hit (He played me Left Of The Dial, Bastards of Young and Skyway right there in the shop) before leaving me to go serve someone else looking in on a world where my beloved Goo Goo Dolls, Iggy Pop and The Only Ones all joined up in one way or another.
It is the mission of Replacements fans to push them onto new listeners at every opportunity. There’s a subtext though. It’s a litmus test. You either fall in love with the squalor and chaos of Shiftless When Idle and Answering Machine or you swoon at the open hearted Unsatisfied and Achin’ To Be or we lose a bit of respect for you.
See you can’t be one of us if you haven’t felt the emotional core of Here Comes A Regular or the unbridled abandon of Beer For Breakfast as more than just booze soaked banter. There’s a whole world in those songs. It’s our world.
A place where everyone knows your name. Cheers.