10 years ago today, The Adios Lounge made its worldwide debut, released in the wild to literally tens of people. Post #1 was a trifle of an idea, but at least I discussed The Replacements. The band’s Twin/Tone albums had just been reissued, so that was my excuse to link to “Takin A Ride” and “Customer” and “Rattlesnake” from 7th St Entry in September 1981. I don’t know if there’s a consensus on those reissues, but for my money Sorry Ma is the only one that improves upon the original. Don’t get me wrong, it was nice to have Stink, Hootenanny, and Let It Be remastered, with fancy liner notes, and all in one place. But, I don’t think the bonus cuts on any of those albums made any of those albums better. You may think you want all those bonus tracks, but you won’t go back to them.
Sorry Ma is different. You not only get the 18 OG tracks, you get the still-powerful 7-song demo that floored Peter Jesperson way back in May-June 1980, and a handful of demos and outtakes from the era, including Bob Stinson’s charming power-pop instrumental, “A Toe Needs a Shoe.” Speaking of which, the alt take of “Customer” may be inferior to the album version, but Bob’s Wayne Kramer-esque guitar assault is an unexpected treat. Basically, “You Ain’t Gotta Dance” sucks and “Basement Jam” is a deliberate goof and shouldn’t even count as a “song” — though I get why it was included — meaning that 29 of the 31 tracks are Peak Mats. That’s tremendous value for your rock ‘n’ roll dollar. The 1981 Replacements are way undervalued.
I like that the Sorry Ma reissue ends with “If Only You Were Lonely” for the same reason Hootenanny 1.0 ends with “Treatment Bound.” After all the chaos, a bemused country folker provides a soft landing. “Lonely” is textbook Westerberg. The smartass with a heart of gold. That said, I have a theory — and by theory, I mean elaborate fan fiction — that in the Replacements Phonographic Universe, the character from “If Only You Were Lonely” is the same character, now 36 years older, populating Anything Could Happen, Bash And Pop‘s excellent album from last year.
Anything Could Happen is actually my favorite solo Replacements album and I’m half-surprised saying that. (FYI: I was going to use the phrase “favorite album by former Replacement,” but Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson could never be “former” Replacements. They are now and will forever be present tense Replacements. Hell, Bob Stinson was fired from the fucking band and he’s as Replacement now as he’s ever been. Past tense is not an option.) Anyway, I’ve EASILY listened to Anything more than any other solo Replacements album and I would not have predicted that a year ago. However, in addition to thematic coherence in chronicling a painful breakup — as opposed to those gregarious breakups — the album exists in my rock ‘n’ roll sweet spot. Bash And Pop sound pretty much what I want a post-Replacements, post-alt.country, post-You Am I/Slobberbone/Grand Champeen rock ‘n’ roll band to sound like in 2017-18.
Bash And Pop – Breathing Room
Live @ 89.3 The Current, Minneapolis-St. Paul
September 12, 2015
“Breathing Room” is a fave. I’m particularly taken by the first verse — though technically, I think it’s a verse and prechorus — because it teases out the end of a relationship in six succinct lines.
You’re the pain in my ass
I’m the ache in your heart
You’re the fist in my face
I’m the words you can’t hear
You’re the dream that I thought that I had
I’m the wish that won’t come true
Obviously, when I listen to Tommy Stinson, I know that Westerberg is always there, even if he isn’t there. But structurally, this song really reminds me of Rhett Miller’s better work with the Old 97s (“Big Brown Eyes,” e.g.). This reference might not be as far-fetched as it sounds. Three years before Anything Could Happen came out — when he was writing the songs for ACH, in fact — Stinson appeared on the Old 97s’ album, Most Messed Up (2014). He played guitar and sang on the title track and “Intervention” and then later that summer opened up a set of east coast dates for the band. Oh, and then there’s this.
Old 97s & Tommy Stinson recording Most Messed Up
Texas Treefort Studios, Austin, TX
“I am the most messed up motherfucker in this TOWN!!!”
Happy birthday to me, y’all. Here’s to another 10 years.