You could say that the Replacements without Bob Stinson isn’t really a reunion but that’s like saying the Stones without Brian Jones isn’t really a reunion. So 20 plus years after the band broke up and with only Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson definitely signed up, the three Riot Fest dates from late August to mid-September are close enough to the real deal reunion. Especially as the only guitarist to come close to replacing Bob, Slim Dunlop requiring a Benefit EP to help pay for his medical bills , is the main reason we are looking at a return of the Alt rock garage band of alt rock garage band, we will take it.
I said we but I meant you.
I don’t really care.
I lost interest after Hootenanny, a couple of insultingly bad gigs and a terrible opening act for Costello, and I was done. It is actually a little strange and I have no explanation for it but I’ve had a hard time hearing this band: in theory I can tell what is happening but in practice I turn off. It is the band because Paul Westerberg’s first solo album, 14 Songs from 1993, blew me away. Maybe I’m holding a grudge and a great live show will get me over the hump.
Anyway, I run a tiny but real music website so I felt just about obligated to check their first reunion date in Toronto August 25th, bought a tix, booked a flight and away we go. Which still left me with the problem of actually LISTENING to the band. I asked Bill Holdship, who wrote the liner notes to the extended Replacements reissues at the bands request, and Rob O’Connor, the Yahoo Music columnist and maybe the best rock critic around, to tell me what their favorite songs were, I put them together, added one song of my own and made a list. Tim, their major label debut and last with Bob Stinson, is the keeper. With Please To Meet Me, the follow up and the first post Stinson album,coming in a not so close second.
So, here, for all you none believes, a Replacements setlist. PS “Take Me To The Hospital” was the song I added:
1. Left Of The Dial – A Byrdsy, or do I mean REM-y, zoom lens hard folk college radio friendly (by definition) as well as a come on to a girl in a band. Covers a lot of ground very well – A
2. If Only You Were Lonely – Pre-Hootenany country strummer, watch em stumble over a chord or two. Great chorus – A
3. Color Me Impressed – The anti-hipster masterpiece takes a would be cliche and makes it an aphorism – A+
4. Achin’ T^o Be – You didn’t miss Bob? This piece of pop might make you miss him. Justifies my every qualm though the harp break is sweet – B-
5. Bastards Of Young – This is classic rock not hardcore or punk. Anthemic power rock and a road never quite fully explored. They coulda been U2 big; it’s all here somewhere – A+
6. Waitress In The Sky – I wonder if Paul had problems with airlines after this? It is like a nastyass “Lovely Rita”; a swipe at working women in uniforms – A-
7. Swingin’ Time – This is a soft shoe shuffle refracted bossa nova with a superb guitar break – A
8. I Will Dare – Either this was a hit or it has been copied a million times -that lick is indelible and the break sounds like a recurring dream I’ve had – A
Alex Chilton – Nice tribute while Alex was still around to enjoy it – B+
9. The Ledge – The closest the Mats come to the blues. Barry Holdship informs me that Paul was doing most of the guitar playing in the studio. Whoever did this was very impressive – B+
10. Skyway – Pretty singer songwriter stuff. Sounds like Green Day when Billy Joe is being fluffy – C
11. Hold My Life – “Well, well, well…” Another song I feel as though I’ve heard a million times – A-
12. Here Comes A Regular – This sounds like Spider Bags… that’s a compliment – A
13. Little Mascara – You know how people keep on saying how great Stinson is? Listen to his work here, how he rides the drum breaks and follows Paul at the same time – A
14. Nowhere Is Near My Home – OK, I got the point already, Tim is a masterpiece – A
15. Answering Machine – Great guitar intro but the sound effects is really annoying – B
16. Unsatisfied – This sounds like it wandered off a Gram Parsons album before buying a coupla beers with Keef circa 1971.
17. Within Your Reach – They aren’t striving for excellence here, this rock and roll ballad is why people will die for Westerberg – A
18. Take Me To The Hospital – This rips your lungs out and stuffs it back down your face with a glorious thrust and parry fall apart insanity – A+
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