The Replacements: The studio albums, ranked from worst to best
As the music world's attention focuses on the highly anticipated live return of the Replacements in Toronto this weekend, now seems like a perfect time to dig into their potent back catalog. Whether you're a longtime fan who remembers seeing our beloved 'Mats play at the Longhorn in the early days, or you're just getting into their music now, their releases still sound as vital -- if not more so -- today as they did when first released.
Each album captures a band in a constant state of flux, with the fitful balance between untamed rock 'n' roll and catchy pop. The inner workings of the band and their frayed personal relationships also course tempestuously through their work, and the 'Mats perfectly captured that creative tension within their poignant numbers. With each record, the Replacements gave a glimpse into a group destined to come apart at the seams.
While music fans wait to see what the modern-day Replacements sound like, Gimme Noise takes an affectionate look back at the band's stellar studio output of the past (save for the recent Songs for Slim EP) and ranks the releases that put them on the musical map in the first place.
8 - All Shook Down
The band's swan song is a Replacements album in name only, and essentially marks the beginning of Paul Westerberg's solo career. And while most of the songs have a loose, inspired elegance to them ("Sadly Beautiful," "Nobody," "Torture"), the record comes off as a solitary artistic statement from Westerberg with very few meaningful contributions from anyone else left in the band.
All Shook Down isn't the sound of a band on their way out, it instead captures the hushed echoes that linger in the air long after they've stumbled out of the room.
7 - Stink
The EP that gave this blog its name would rate higher, if the band would have only stretched this raw fury out into a proper full-length (though many would say that is precisely what they did on Hootenanny). From the sound of the police breaking up a live 'Mats gig that serves as the intro to "Kids Don't Follow," this whirlwind collection has a vehement urgency that captures the untethered live ferocity of the band at the time. What frustrated adolescent doesn't easily identify with the rebellious anthems "Fuck School" and "God Damn Job"? The only negative to this bristling EP is that it's over in a mere 13 minutes.
6 - Don't Tell a Soul
Following the unceremonious departure of Bob Stinson a few years before, guitarist Slim Dunlap joined the band in the studio for Don't Tell a Soul, an album that launches fittingly with the jangly pop bounce of "Talent Show," as if the new arrangement of the group is auditioning in front of their fans. Dunlap's understated but stellar hooks ring through these vibrant arrangements, with Westerberg's ramshackle but heartfelt odes "Achin' to Be" and "I'll Be You" fitting in fluidly alongside the outsider, alienated call-to-arms of "We'll Inherit the Earth" and "Anywhere's Better Than Here."
Though the slick, polished production occasionally ruins some of the finer moments of the album -- ones that would have been better served in an unvarnished form -- there's no denying the simple charm of these indelible, though decidedly solemn numbers. Even though much of the material on this record has dour undertones, these songs still manage to capture the sound of a band having a bit of fun in the studio together, even though the end is clearly in sight.