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Rock - Released September 27, 2019 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Thirty years later, Paul Westerberg and the rest of The Replacements are having another shot at getting their sixth album right on Don’t Tell A Soul Redux. The revamp is part of a new box set, Dead Man's Pop, which also contains a live show and other rare goodies, including additional tracks from a session with Tom Waits and earlier, scrapped tracks recorded at Bearsville Studios. For the Redux mix, Matt Wallace, who originally co-produced Don't Tell a Soul along with the band, used a mix recorded during the 1988 Paisley Park sessions as source material. As might be expected, the polarizing late-'80s gloss is gone, replaced by a clearer, lively sonic approach with plenty of nuance: Acoustic guitars are more prominent throughout, and individual parts within songs (a blazing guitar line here, a crashing piano part there) are evident. This clarity also revealed that Don't Tell a Soul continued to build on Pleased To Meet Me's diversity; songs encompass a whimsical soul-pop shuffle ("Asking Me Lies"), an R.E.M.-esque anthem ("Darlin' One" and its towering, droning guitars) and swaggering Americana ("We'll Inherit the Earth"). In perhaps the boldest move of all, Don't Tell a Soul's tracklisting is completely shuffled around on the new version, with only leadoff track "Talent Show" and "We'll Inherit the Earth" in slot three maintaining their original positions. This sequencing tweak is brilliant, as the album now boasts a poignant emotional arc that starts with anxiety over band and career matters and ends with piercing personal confessions. © Annie Zaleski / Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released April 22, 2008 | Ryko - Rhino

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Alternative & Indie - Released October 6, 2017 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Reissue
The Replacements were an essential American rock ‘n’ roll band that saved the eighties without really ever making it big in Europe. Carried by one of the most gifted songwriters of his generation—the great Paul Westerberg, unsurprisingly cherished in his homeland—helped in his task by a group of vigorous musicians each one wackier than the last (Tommy Stinson on bass, his brother Bob - who died in 1995 - on guitar and Chris Mars on drums), the Mats (as their fans always called them) offered then a viscerally punk version of rock à la Rolling Stones. Sometimes basic though always impeccably written and whose art is presented here live on the small Maxwell’s stage in Hoboken, facing Manhattan. A previously unheard crackdown concert from February 1986, when the Mats had already released Sorry Ma, Forgot To Take Out The Trash (1981), Stink (1982), Hootenanny (1983), Let It Be (1984) and Tim (1985), and were on the verge of releasing Pleased To Meet Me the next year. © MZ/Qobuz  
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Alternative & Indie - Released October 2, 1984 | Ryko - Rhino

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Let It Be looms large among '80s rock albums, generally regarded as one of the greatest records of the decade. So large is its legend and so universal its acclaim that all the praise tends to give the impression that the Replacements' fourth album was designed as a major statement, intended to be something important when its genius, like so many things involving the 'Mats, feels accidental. Compared to other underground landmarks from 1984, Let It Be feels small scale, as it lacks the grand, sprawling ambition of the Minutemen's Double Nickels on the Dime or the dramatic intensity of Hüsker Dü's Zen Arcade, or if the other side of the Atlantic is taken into equation, the clean sense of purpose of The Smiths. Nothing about Let It Be is clean; it's all a ragged mess, careening wildly from dirty jokes to wounded ballads, from utter throwaways to songs haunting in their power. Unlike other classics, Let It Be needs those throwaways -- that Kiss cover, those songs about Tommy getting his tonsils out and Gary's boner, that rant about phony rock & roll -- to lighten the mood and give the album its breathless pacing, but also because without these asides, the album wouldn't be true to the Replacements, who never separated high and low culture, who celebrated pure junk and reluctantly bared their soul. This blend of bluster and vulnerability is why the Replacements were perhaps the most beloved band of their era, as they captured all the chaos and confusion of coming of age in the midst of Reaganomics, and Let It Be is nothing if not a coming-of-age album, perched precisely between adolescence and adulthood. There's just enough angst and tastelessness to have the album speak to teenagers of all generations and just enough complicated emotion to make this music resonate with listeners long past those awkward years, whether they grew up with this album or not. All this works because there is an utter lack of affect in Paul Westerberg's songs and unrestrained glee in the Replacements' roar. Sure, Let It Be has moments where the thunder rolls away and Westerberg is alone, playing "Androgynous" on a piano and howling about having to say good night to an answering machine, but they flow naturally from the band's furious rock & roll, particularly because the raw, unsettled "Unsatisfied" acts as a bridge between these two extremes. But if Let It Be was all angst, it wouldn't have captured so many hearts in the '80s, becoming a virtual soundtrack to the decade for so many listeners, or continue to snag in new fans years later. Unlike so many teenage post-punk records, this doesn't dwell on the pain; it ramps up the jokes and, better still, offers a sense of endless possibilities, especially on the opening pair of "I Will Dare" and "Favorite Thing," two songs where it feels as if the world opened up because of these songs. And that sense of thrilling adventure isn't just due to Westerberg; it's due to the 'Mats as a band, who have never sounded as ferocious and determined as they do here. Just a year earlier, they were playing almost everything for laughs on Hootenanny and just a year later a major-label contract helped pull all their sloppiness into focus on Tim, but here Chris Mars and Tommy Stinson's rhythms are breathlessly exciting and Bob Stinson's guitar wails as if nothing could ever go wrong. Of course, plenty went wrong for the Replacements not too much further down the road, but here they were fully alive as a band, living gloriously in the moment, a fleeting moment when anything and everything seems possible, and that moment still bursts to life whenever Let It Be is played. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Alternative & Indie - Released September 22, 2008 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

Distinctions The Unusual Suspects
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Alternative & Indie - Released September 22, 2008 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Alternative & Indie - Released September 23, 2008 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released September 22, 2008 | Rhino - Warner Records

Two albums into their major-label contract and the Replacements had yet to have a hit -- they racked up some respectable sales but they were still a cult college band, never coming close to the Top Ten success R.E.M. had with Document. This lack of hits certainly weighed heavily on the band's label, which exerted a slightly heavier pressure than the chorus of fans and critics lamenting the group's lack of success, but all of this pressure from supporters and suits led the band to place a big bet on Don't Tell a Soul, a highly lacquered dilution of the 'Mats that is as misguided a crossover attempt as can be imagined. Matt Wallace's enormous, bottomless production -- as fathomless and dull as a muddy lake -- is merely a symptom of the illness that infected the Replacements during the making of Don't Tell a Soul, an illness that left the bandmembers with little sense of themselves. Blame for this can't be placed on the shoulders of Slim Dunlap, a Minneapolis rock fixture belatedly replacing Bob Stinson almost four years after his departure, as the guitarist is an easy, comfortable fit, lending nice country grace notes to ballads and goosing rockers with understated leads. So, does the blame for Don't Tell a Soul lay at the feet of Paul Westerberg? In part, yes, but not because the lead Replacement comes up with a set of substandard songs. Yes, a couple of his worse numbers are here -- none more egregious than the bewildering ham-fisted funk of "Asking Me Lies," and the muddled anthem "We'll Inherit the Earth" isn't far behind -- but so are a couple of his finest, including the lovely "Achin' to Be," the haunted "Rock 'n' Roll Ghost," the sweetly self-mythologizing "Talent Show," and "I'll Be You," whose urgency masks its melancholy. Taken as an overall set of tunes, though, the songs on Don't Tell a Soul reveal a writer who is becoming self-conscious of his role as a writer, over-thinking his constructions and rewriting too carefully, dampening the over-spilling emotion that was always one of his finest characteristics; he's writing with his reputation in mind. Perhaps such overly considered songs deserve an overly considered production, but Wallace's inflated renderings of Westerberg's fussy tunes are absurdly large, pointing out that Westerberg's ballads always were endearing because they were fragile, an element acutely missing from Don't Tell a Soul. But what's really missed here is any sense that this is the work of a band: this is a record that's been assembled track to track, lacking any spark or spontaneity. This is what the Replacements would sound like if they weren't a rock & roll band, something that is painfully evident on the one straight-ahead rocker, the stiff and embarrassing "I Won't," a tune that the 'Mats could have tossed off with abandon at any other time. "I Won't" is one of only a handful of songs with a sprightly tempo, as the rest of the record ranges from anonymous album rock to mannered writerly ballads. The other fast one is, of course, "I'll Be You," the song that did manage to crawl into modern rock charts and pop up on MTV, but it failed to bring the record any further up the charts. Ultimately, that's the saddest thing about Don't Tell a Soul: it's a transparent sellout that failed to sell. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Alternative & Indie - Released October 11, 2010 | Warner Records

The Replacements were one of the three great American underground bands of the '80s (the other two were R.E.M. and Hüsker Dü), influencing a generation of alternative bands with their ramshackle, ragged rocking and Paul Westerberg's heart-tugging songs. In short, they were the band no one heard except for the young guitar-slingers inspired to form bands of their own. All for Nothing/Nothing for All, a double-disc set comprised of one disc of "hits" and one disc of rarities, is supposed to offer proof of the group's influence, but it actually inadvertently dismantles their legend. For legal reasons, the hits disc All for Nothing couldn't feature highlights from their Twin/Tone releases, which means their rawest recordings and gems like "Within Your Reach," "I Will Dare," and "Androgynous" aren't here. Instead, four songs each from their Reprise albums -- Tim, Pleased to Meet Me, Don't Tell a Soul, All Shook Down -- are featured, and while most of the obvious suspects are here, they make the Replacements sound downright traditional; based on these tracks, the only '90s bands they influenced were Americana groups like Wilco and the Bottle Rockets, not indie punk and grunge outfits like Nirvana. And, surprisingly, the Replacements don't even rock that hard on these Reprise records -- the production, as many longtime fans have claimed, tames their wilder tendencies. Nevertheless, many of the songs on All for Nothing are among Westerberg's finest and prove that he was a talented songwriter, especially since the filler that plagued every Replacements album has been saved for disc two, Nothing for All, which is comprised entirely of B-sides and unreleased cuts. Still, there are a couple of gems on the disc, particularly the early Alex Chilton-produced take of "Can't Hardly Wait" and the Tom Waits-assisted rave-up "Date to Church." ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Alternative & Indie - Released September 21, 1990 | Sire

Battered and broken from the debacle of Don't Tell a Soul -- the album's failure to take off, followed by a disastrous tour supporting Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers -- the Replacements were on their last legs when it came time for 1990's All Shook Down, so worn down that the band ceased to exist for most intents and purposes. Paul Westerberg even began recording the album as a solo project with R.E.M. producer Scott Litt, gradually turning it into the final Replacements album. It may bear the band's name, but All Shook Down never quite shakes the feeling of a solo album; above all, it's a writers album, with the focus placed entirely on the songs. To a certain extent, that was true of the ballad-heavy Don't Tell a Soul, but that felt over-thought from its conception to execution, where there is a light touch to All Shook Down, despite its plethora of guest musicians, including John Cale's viola on "Sadly Beautiful," Heartbreaker Benmont Tench, Terry Reid, and a duet with Concrete Blonde's Johnette Napolitano on "My Little Problem." Instead of aiming for a crossover hit, Westerberg has now resigned himself to his status as an also-ran, even embracing it to some extent, so there are no sops to rock radio aside from "My Little Problem," whose bluster is jarring amidst the nimble folk-pop of the rest of the record. All the acoustic guitars and skipping electric guitars push All Shook Down far outside of the nascent Zeitgeist of grunge, or the sound of college rock in 1990; although Westerberg would soon be back in the thick of things with his Singles soundtrack -- sounding not too dissimilar to this record -- this finds him retreating from the rat race, reflecting on what he's been through. All Shook Down is designed as a coda to the Replacements' career, with Westerberg looking back to "When It Began," pleading that "Someone Take the Wheel" and wrapping the whole thing up with "The Last," as self-aware a final song as the Beatles' "The End." Westerberg balances these self-referential slices of autobiography with his self-deprecation and heartbreak, but all this melancholy never feels heavy, not even when he dips into thick sorrow on "Sadly Beautiful" or the disembodied spookiness of "All Shook Down." There's a palpable sense of relief to All Shook Down, as if Westerberg realized he dodged a bullet by not becoming a true rock star. This lightness is appealing, especially as it surfaces in his writing, which is surely more considered than it was even on Pleased to Meet Me, but it has an offhand quality, recalling the casual virtuosity of Let It Be and Tim -- it's the same guy, only older but maybe not too much wiser. And as it's true to that spirit, All Shook Down winds up being a note-perfect denouement to the Replacements' career, even if it's quiet and careful in a way the band never was at its peak. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Alternative & Indie - Released March 3, 1987 | Sire

All things considered, Tim was an easy transition to the majors for the Replacements, at least as far as the making of the album goes: things went wrong after the release, as the band botched big showcases like its Saturday Night Live spot, leading up to the dismissal of Bob Stinson at the conclusion of the Tim tour. The dust hadn't settled when the 'Mats headed down to Memphis to record Pleased to Meet Me with producer Jim Dickinson at Ardent Studios -- or to phrase it in Alex Chilton-speak, to record with Big Star's 3rd producer at the studio where all three Big Star albums were made. All this fanboy worship perhaps naturally led to a full-blown mash note to Paul Westerberg's idol, who also turned up to play a couple of licks on a finally finished "Can't Hardly Wait," which initially was attempted with Chilton as a producer before Tim, but Pleased to Meet Me didn't resemble either the crystalline pop of #1 Record or the narcissistic black hole of 3rd. Dickinson gave the Replacements a full-blooded, muscular production, cranking up guitars, hauling out an upright bass for Tommy Stinson, and bringing in horns -- even strings -- to flesh out Westerberg's songs. This was the Replacements as professionals and, ever the contrarians, they strained against it -- albeit only sporadically and underneath the surface -- with Westerberg's outsider stance calcifying into the invigorating bitterness of "I.O.U." and "I Don't Know." These two proto-slacker anti-anthems -- quite the inverse of the call to arms of "Bastards of Young" and "Left of the Dial" -- are the only times the group's self-sabotage surfaces here, as the bandmembers pretty much give themselves over to Dickinson's studio savvy, leading to the ominous pulse of "The Ledge" and the brilliant, shining power pop of "Never Mind," "Alex Chilton," and "Valentine," along with such left-field twists as the mock jazz of "Nightclub Jitters." This kind of colorful, almost cinematic production -- even the greasy rocker "Shooting Dirty Pool" is enhanced by the sound of breaking glass -- was unheard of on a Replacements record and it all came to a head on "Can't Hardly Wait," which was glossed over with swelling strings and the Memphis Horns. All these fancy accoutrements would seem like the antithesis of the Replacements' spirit, but Dickinson's grand production merely blows the 'Mats up to epic scale, leaving their essence intact: Westerberg even gets a lovely fragile acoustic moment in "Skyway" and there are down-and-dirty rockers like "Shooting Dirty Pool" and "Red Red Wine" that feel like throwaways, but are necessary to the spirit of the record. The Replacements never sounded better with a bigger production than they did on Pleased to Meet Me, so it's hard not to see it as the one that got away, the record that should have been the breakthrough, especially in the year when fellow American underground rockers R.E.M. leaped into the Top Ten (but, it's also true that "The Ledge" may not have been the best single choice, as songs about suicides don't often provide entry into the Top 40). Then again, the Replacements don't make sense as a success story, so the failure of the gleaming, glistening Pleased to Meet Me winds up making its polish kind of heart-rending. As it turns out, this was the last time they could still shoot for the stars and seem like their scrappy selves and, in many ways, it was the last true Replacements album. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Alternative & Indie - Released January 27, 1989 | Sire

Two albums into their major-label contract and the Replacements had yet to have a hit -- they racked up some respectable sales but they were still a cult college band, never coming close to the Top Ten success R.E.M. had with Document. This lack of hits certainly weighed heavily on the band's label, which exerted a slightly heavier pressure than the chorus of fans and critics lamenting the group's lack of success, but all of this pressure from supporters and suits led the band to place a big bet on Don't Tell a Soul, a highly lacquered dilution of the 'Mats that is as misguided a crossover attempt as can be imagined. Matt Wallace's enormous, bottomless production -- as fathomless and dull as a muddy lake -- is merely a symptom of the illness that infected the Replacements during the making of Don't Tell a Soul, an illness that left the bandmembers with little sense of themselves. Blame for this can't be placed on the shoulders of Slim Dunlap, a Minneapolis rock fixture belatedly replacing Bob Stinson almost four years after his departure, as the guitarist is an easy, comfortable fit, lending nice country grace notes to ballads and goosing rockers with understated leads. So, does the blame for Don't Tell a Soul lay at the feet of Paul Westerberg? In part, yes, but not because the lead Replacement comes up with a set of substandard songs. Yes, a couple of his worse numbers are here -- none more egregious than the bewildering ham-fisted funk of "Asking Me Lies," and the muddled anthem "We'll Inherit the Earth" isn't far behind -- but so are a couple of his finest, including the lovely "Achin' to Be," the haunted "Rock 'n' Roll Ghost," the sweetly self-mythologizing "Talent Show," and "I'll Be You," whose urgency masks its melancholy. Taken as an overall set of tunes, though, the songs on Don't Tell a Soul reveal a writer who is becoming self-conscious of his role as a writer, over-thinking his constructions and rewriting too carefully, dampening the over-spilling emotion that was always one of his finest characteristics; he's writing with his reputation in mind. Perhaps such overly considered songs deserve an overly considered production, but Wallace's inflated renderings of Westerberg's fussy tunes are absurdly large, pointing out that Westerberg's ballads always were endearing because they were fragile, an element acutely missing from Don't Tell a Soul. But what's really missed here is any sense that this is the work of a band: this is a record that's been assembled track to track, lacking any spark or spontaneity. This is what the Replacements would sound like if they weren't a rock & roll band, something that is painfully evident on the one straight-ahead rocker, the stiff and embarrassing "I Won't," a tune that the 'Mats could have tossed off with abandon at any other time. "I Won't" is one of only a handful of songs with a sprightly tempo, as the rest of the record ranges from anonymous album rock to mannered writerly ballads. The other fast one is, of course, "I'll Be You," the song that did manage to crawl into modern rock charts and pop up on MTV, but it failed to bring the record any further up the charts. Ultimately, that's the saddest thing about Don't Tell a Soul: it's a transparent sellout that failed to sell. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Alternative & Indie - Released September 23, 2008 | Rhino - Warner Records

Battered and broken from the debacle of Don't Tell a Soul -- the album's failure to take off, followed by a disastrous tour supporting Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers -- the Replacements were on their last legs when it came time for 1990's All Shook Down, so worn down that the band ceased to exist for most intents and purposes. Paul Westerberg even began recording the album as a solo project with R.E.M. producer Scott Litt, gradually turning it into the final Replacements album. It may bear the band's name, but All Shook Down never quite shakes the feeling of a solo album; above all, it's a writers album, with the focus placed entirely on the songs. To a certain extent, that was true of the ballad-heavy Don't Tell a Soul, but that felt over-thought from its conception to execution, where there is a light touch to All Shook Down, despite its plethora of guest musicians, including John Cale's viola on "Sadly Beautiful," Heartbreaker Benmont Tench, Terry Reid, and a duet with Concrete Blonde's Johnette Napolitano on "My Little Problem." Instead of aiming for a crossover hit, Westerberg has now resigned himself to his status as an also-ran, even embracing it to some extent, so there are no sops to rock radio aside from "My Little Problem," whose bluster is jarring amidst the nimble folk-pop of the rest of the record. All the acoustic guitars and skipping electric guitars push All Shook Down far outside of the nascent Zeitgeist of grunge, or the sound of college rock in 1990; although Westerberg would soon be back in the thick of things with his Singles soundtrack -- sounding not too dissimilar to this record -- this finds him retreating from the rat race, reflecting on what he's been through. All Shook Down is designed as a coda to the Replacements' career, with Westerberg looking back to "When It Began," pleading that "Someone Take the Wheel" and wrapping the whole thing up with "The Last," as self-aware a final song as the Beatles' "The End." Westerberg balances these self-referential slices of autobiography with his self-deprecation and heartbreak, but all this melancholy never feels heavy, not even when he dips into thick sorrow on "Sadly Beautiful" or the disembodied spookiness of "All Shook Down." There's a palpable sense of relief to All Shook Down, as if Westerberg realized he dodged a bullet by not becoming a true rock star. This lightness is appealing, especially as it surfaces in his writing, which is surely more considered than it was even on Pleased to Meet Me, but it has an offhand quality, recalling the casual virtuosity of Let It Be and Tim -- it's the same guy, only older but maybe not too much wiser. And as it's true to that spirit, All Shook Down winds up being a note-perfect denouement to the Replacements' career, even if it's quiet and careful in a way the band never was at its peak. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Alternative & Indie - Released August 16, 2019 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Tim

Alternative & Indie - Released October 16, 1985 | Sire

Moving to a major label was inevitable for the Replacements: they garnered too much acclaim and attention after Let It Be to stay on Twin/Tone, especially as the label faced the same distribution problems that plagued many indies in the mid-'80s -- plus, the 'Mats' crosstown rivals, Hüsker Dü, made the leap to the big leagues, paving the way for their own hop over to Sire. The Replacements may have left Twin/Tone behind but they weren't quite ready to leave Minneapolis in the dust, choosing to record in their hometown with Tommy Erdelyi -- aka Tommy Ramone -- who gives the 'Mats a big, roomy sound without quite giving them gloss; compared to Let It Be, Tim is polished, but compared to many American underground rock records of the mid-'80s (including those by the Ramones), it's loose and kinetic. The production -- guitars that gained muscle, drums and vocals that gained reverb -- is the biggest surface difference, but there aren't just changes in how the Replacements sound; what they're playing is different too, as Paul Westerberg begins to turn into a self-aware songwriter. A large part of the charm of Let It Be was how it split almost evenly between ragged vulgarity and open-hearted rockers, with Westerberg's best songs betraying a startling, beguiling lack of affect. That's not quite the case with Tim, as Westerberg consciously writes alienation anthems: the rallying cry of "Bastards of Young" and the college radio love letter "Left of the Dial," songs written with a larger audience in mind -- not a popular audience, but a collection of misfits across the nation, who huddled around Westerberg's raw, twitchy loneliness on "Swingin Party" and "Here Comes a Regular," or the urgent and directionless "Hold My Life." These songs are Westerberg at his confessional peak, but instead of undercutting this ragged emotion or hiding it away, as he did on the Twin/Tone albums, he pairs it with the exuberance of "Kiss Me on the Bus" -- an adolescent cousin to "I Will Dare" -- and channels his smart-ass comments into the terrifically cynical rockabilly shuffle "Waitress in the Sky." All this eats up so much oxygen that there's not much air left for any of the recklessness of the Twin/Tone LPs: there's no stumbling, no throwaway jokes, with even the twin rave-ups of "Dose of Thunder" and "Lay It Down Clown" straightened out, no matter how much Bob Stinson might try to pull them apart, which is perhaps the greatest indication that the Replacements were no longer the band they were just a couple years ago. Some 'Mats fans never got over this change, but something was gained in this loss: the Replacements turned into a deeper band on Tim, one that spoke, sometimes mumbled, to the hearts of losers and outcasts who lived their lives on the fringe. If Let It Be captured the spirit of the Replacements, then Tim captured their soul. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Alternative & Indie - Released August 25, 1981 | Ryko - Rhino

Part of the Replacements' appeal always was that they didn't quite fit into any tidy category and nowhere was that truer than on their 1981 debut, Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash. Falling over themselves to fit into the Minneapolis hardcore scene, the 'Mats played fast and loose, which was part of the problem -- they were too loose, lacking the discipline to fit within hardcore, which even in '81 was adhering to the loud-fast rules that would later morph into straight-edge. Then again, that was a common problem in the Twin Cities, as Hüsker Dü also were too big and blustery to be a standard hardcore band, but where the Huskers traded in violence and fury at this early stage, the Replacements wallowed in cheap thrills. Danger still pulsated in their music, but the group didn't inflict emotional damage: they were a party spinning out of control, getting sloppier with every beer swilled. The messiness on Sorry Ma is hardly confined to the cheap, thin recording or the band's playing -- they sound as if they're stumbling upon each other as they fumble for the next chord -- but how the songs pile up one after another, most not managing to get close to the two-minute mark. Such brevity could be dubbed as hardcore, but apart from the volume and speed, this doesn't feel like hardcore: there's too much beer and boogie for that. Then, there's also the fact that the Replacements reveled in mid-American junk culture, with Paul Westerberg boasting that he'd bought himself a headache the very year that Black Flag sneered that they had nothing better to do then having a bottle of brew as they watched the TV. Neither did the Replacements, but they sang about this with no disdain, as they enjoyed being "Shiftless When Idle," as one of the best songs here called it. This could be called defiant if it seemed like the 'Mats were raging against anything besides garden-variety suburban troubles, as there's nothing that attacks other punkers (quite the opposite; there are love letters to Johnny Thunders and Hüsker Dü), and even when Westerberg is chronicling Midwestern ennui, there's a sense of affection to his laments, as if he loves the place and loves acting like an angry young crank. This strain of premature curmudgeonly humor is undercut by the boundless energy of the band, so happy to make noise they don't care if they're recycling old-time rock & roll riffs that are closer to amped-up Rockpile than the Ramones, as there's more swing to the rhythms than that -- swing that careens wildly and madly, but swings all the same. And that's what made the Replacements seem so different with their debut -- they didn't fit anywhere within American punk, but there's no defiance here; there's a celebration of who and what they are that's genuinely, infectiously guileless. It may not quite sound like any other American punk record but Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash is one of the best LPs the entire scene produced in the early '80s. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Alternative & Indie - Released April 29, 1983 | Ryko - Rhino

Hootenanny is the place where the Replacements began to branch out from the breakneck punk that characterized their first two records -- which isn't quite the same thing as growing up, however. The brilliant thing about Hootenanny is that it teeters at the brink of maturity but never makes the dive into that deep pool. Paul Westerberg nevertheless dips a toe into those murky waters with "Color Me Impressed," as good an angst-ridden rocker as he would ever write, and the heartbroken "Within Your Reach," which presented a break from the Replacements' past in its slower tempo, driven by a stiff yet sad drum loop, and its vulnerability. Not long after this, Westerberg's vulnerability would become central to the 'Mats, although here he's keeping it way in check, but Hootenanny has something better to offer than a collection of soul-searching ballads: it offers the manic, reckless spirit so key to the Replacements' legend. All the myths of the Replacements at their peak speak to how it seemed like anything could happen at one of their shows, how Bob Stinson could blow out his amplifiers, how Westerberg would stumble through impromptu kitsch covers, how it could seem like the band would never make it to the end of the show. Well, Hootenanny is the only record of theirs where it seems like they may not make it to the end of the album, so ragged and reckless it is. It lurches to life with the folk piss-take "Hootenanny" before spinning out of control with "Run It," a piece of faux-core harder and funnier than anything on Stink. Hootenanny continues to bounce from extreme to extreme, stopping for a Beatles parody on "Mr. Whirly" and the instrumental "Buck Hill" before Westerberg reads out personal ads on "Lovelines." Almost all of the album's 12 songs could be seen as slight on their own merits, but the whole is greater than its individual parts, not just in how it is a breathless good time, but how this album offers a messy break from American punk traditions, ushering in an era of irony and self-deprecation that came to define much of American underground rock in the next decade. Nowhere is the Replacements' influence clearer than on Hootenanny, and although they made better records, no other one captures what the band was all about better than this. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Alternative & Indie - Released April 22, 2008 | Ryko - Rhino

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Alternative & Indie - Released April 22, 2008 | Ryko - Rhino

Part of the Replacements' appeal always was that they didn't quite fit into any tidy category and nowhere was that truer than on their 1981 debut, Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash. Falling over themselves to fit into the Minneapolis hardcore scene, the 'Mats played fast and loose, which was part of the problem -- they were too loose, lacking the discipline to fit within hardcore, which even in '81 was adhering to the loud-fast rules that would later morph into straight-edge. Then again, that was a common problem in the Twin Cities, as Hüsker Dü also were too big and blustery to be a standard hardcore band, but where the Huskers traded in violence and fury at this early stage, the Replacements wallowed in cheap thrills. Danger still pulsated in their music, but the group didn't inflict emotional damage: they were a party spinning out of control, getting sloppier with every beer swilled. The messiness on Sorry Ma is hardly confined to the cheap, thin recording or the band's playing -- they sound as if they're stumbling upon each other as they fumble for the next chord -- but how the songs pile up one after another, most not managing to get close to the two-minute mark. Such brevity could be dubbed as hardcore, but apart from the volume and speed, this doesn't feel like hardcore: there's too much beer and boogie for that. Then, there's also the fact that the Replacements reveled in mid-American junk culture, with Paul Westerberg boasting that he'd bought himself a headache the very year that Black Flag sneered that they had nothing better to do then having a bottle of brew as they watched the TV. Neither did the Replacements, but they sang about this with no disdain, as they enjoyed being "Shiftless When Idle," as one of the best songs here called it. This could be called defiant if it seemed like the 'Mats were raging against anything besides garden-variety suburban troubles, as there's nothing that attacks other punkers (quite the opposite; there are love letters to Johnny Thunders and Hüsker Dü), and even when Westerberg is chronicling Midwestern ennui, there's a sense of affection to his laments, as if he loves the place and loves acting like an angry young crank. This strain of premature curmudgeonly humor is undercut by the boundless energy of the band, so happy to make noise they don't care if they're recycling old-time rock & roll riffs that are closer to amped-up Rockpile than the Ramones, as there's more swing to the rhythms than that -- swing that careens wildly and madly, but swings all the same. And that's what made the Replacements seem so different with their debut -- they didn't fit anywhere within American punk, but there's no defiance here; there's a celebration of who and what they are that's genuinely, infectiously guileless. It may not quite sound like any other American punk record but Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash is one of the best LPs the entire scene produced in the early '80s. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
CD$15.49

Alternative & Indie - Released June 20, 2006 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

Great as the Replacements were, it's a little difficult to recommend one of their great albums as an introduction to the band. Sure, it's easy to see Let It Be as a masterwork of the '80s underground, capturing the group's ragged humor and heart, but it doesn't quite illustrate the depth of Paul Westerberg's songwriting the way Tim did, even if that record wasn't as ferocious as Let It Be, nor did it have the slick diversity of Pleased to Meet Me -- and none of the three had the raw, raucous kick of the 'Mats' first three albums (they also didn't have the desperate-for-a-hit vibe of Don't Tell a Soul or the sadly beautiful hangover of All Shook Down, but that's another matter entirely). It could be argued that any of those three would be effective intros, but the Replacements truly needed a compilation. Of course, they already got one in 1997, when Reprise issued All for Nothing/Nothing for All, containing one disc of hits and one of rarities, but due to legalities, it had nothing from the band's Twin/Tone work, which meant it had nothing at all from anything before Tim -- a severe handicap for a career overview to overcome. Released nearly a decade later, Don't You Know Who I Think I Was?: The Best of the Replacements trumps its predecessor for the mere fact that it does contain cuts from Twin/Tone -- eight of them, in fact, sampling from Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash, Stink, and Hootenanny in addition to three selections from Let It Be. While it's possible to quibble about the actual selections -- any teenager or college kid of the '80s will likely have a friend that put "Androgynous" on a mixtape, not "Answering Machine" -- these records are well-represented, as are Tim with four songs and Pleased to Meet Me with three cuts, balanced by the two singles from Don't Tell a Soul ("Achin' to Be," "I'll Be You") and a song from All Shook Down, an underrated record that nevertheless feels like the first Westerberg solo album it should have been, so it's rightly downplayed. These 18 songs make for an excellent introduction to one of the major American bands of the '80s, and that alone would have been a nice addition to the Replacements' catalog (not to mention a good appetizer for the forthcoming box set allegedly in the works). But what makes Don't You Know Who I Think I Was? noteworthy for fans is the presence of two new tracks by a reunited Replacements. While this isn't exactly the full-fledged reunion that many fans have longed for -- Chris Mars sat this one out on drums, but he does provide harmonies -- "Message to the Boys" and "Pool & Dive" are perfectly credible, enjoyable throwaways, sounding a bit like if the 'Mats were Westerberg's backing band for 14 Songs. They're not great, but they're loose, silly, and a whole lot more fun than anything Westerberg has been up to since 14 Songs, and a nice coda to an already strong compilation. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine