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Old 01-30-2007, 05:27 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default The Replacements - Let It Be (1984, Twin Tone)




Tracklisting
1. I Will Dare Listen
2. Favorite Thing Listen
3. We're Comin' Out Listen
4. Tommy Gets His Tonsils Out Listen
5. Androgynous Listen
6. Black Diamond Listen
7. Unsatisfied Listen
8. Seen Your Video Listen
9. Gary's Got a Boner Listen
10. Sixteen Blue Listen
11. Answering Machine


Review

Your mother may never have heard of him and he may not have sold out Madison Square Garden three nights in a row but to punk rockers and college rock kids alike Paul Westerberg is an icon. As singer, songwriter and guitarist for the seminal American punk rock band the Replacements, a band that did the whole American Pie gross out scat punk thing a whole lot sloppier and trashier than Blink 182 ever have, he penned some of the finest songs to come out of rock music in the 1980s.

Let It Be was the bands third album and their last before leaving indie label Twin Tone for major label Sire. Its tpically considered their masterpiece and though I don't believe its quite the classic its made out to be, its certainly a fantastic album. If you hit the play button on it expecting to hear some raucous three chord punk then my god you'll be in for a shock. The reason that the Replacements are more acclaimed, more loved and more missed than other 1980s American punk bands like Jodie Foster's Army and the Vatican Commandos is because, beginning with their second album Hootenanny, they werent one. The Replacements rose above all of that and in fact out-punked those bands. If punk is about having your own mind, then the Replacements eclectic mix of pop, blues, country, raw yet melodic punk and Big Star influenced jangle rock was surely more punky than the conformist one two f*** you "lets be confrontational" crap that many punk bands play to butter their bread.

The opening track "I Will Dare" is simply poptastic, featuring jangly guitars, a wonderfully bouncing bassline and a lead guitar from Peter Buck of REM. In a scene that didnt place much value on a melody, Westerberg wrote some amazingly catchy and tuneful songs that werent punk rock in the slightest. The albums best rocker comes a little later in "Tommy Gets His Tonsils Out", a silly song lyrically (Blink 182 were obviously listening , shame you'll never match it aint it boys?) but matched with a great great melody and one of the best vocal performance Ive ever heard over a trashy punk/garage rock backing. The bands reveals a surprising influence in their unexpected cover of "Black Diamond" by Kiss, already revealing a debt to the arena rock that most punks were trying to forget about. "Gary's Got A Boner" is as juvenile as the title suggests but once it again it has a great melody, a fantastic vocal performance and some real rocking music. The album as a whole is also very well recorded. What ruins a lot of the hardcore punk music for me is the thin 'treble 10 bass 1' sound that a lot of the recordings have. As I say though, this album has a fuller sound than that, a necessity for rock music to sound its best in my opinion. This is especially true of a band like the Replacements. Any band indebted to classic hard rock needs a good, full sound to hit as hard and be as loud as the music needs to be come across powerfully. Imagine what Led Zeppelin would have sounded like with a thin ****ty guitar sound and small drum sound.

The best songs on the album are when the band arent rockin'. My personal favourite track on the album is the beautiful "Androgynous", a vocal-piano-drums only track. Lyrically its fantastic, a real sharp observation on being an outsider and an outcast, being social rejected just for your eccentricities. Westerberg questions the validity of such things, wondering wether such trivialities will even matter in the future ("Tommorrow who's gonna fuss?"). Westerberg's vocal is once again fantastic, completely impassioned singing that makes you realise that Westerberg actually does care about the outcasts and the rejects, that he's not just saying it to have something to sing but its actually something that bothers him. Elsewhere there is the country rock of "Unsatisfied" and the heavily Big Star influenced track "Sixteen Blue",widely considered one of Westerberg's greatest songs.

The only reason that I wouldnt consider Let It Be as a classic is because of three of the hard rock songs included on the album. "Favourite Thing" pales in comparision to "Tommy Gets His Tonsils Out" as does "We're Coming Out", an extremely trashy punk rock song that lacks the melodic tunefulness of most of the album. "Seen Your Video" is largely instrumental with some fine shouting from Westerberg nearer the end but it doesnt really do anything for me.

Anyway, I would certainly recommend this album to anyone. Tunefulness and punk rock usually arent considered the most obvious bedfellows but Westerberg, like Glenn Danzig and Kurt Cobain, realised that its all for nothing unless you have some good tunes. Having something to say helps a lot too. Thats why we will still be listening to Paul Westerberg and the Replacements long after "My Hips Don't Lie" by Shakira is in the bargain bin at your local record store.
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Old 03-01-2007, 04:53 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Of all the sacred 80's alternative bands, The Replacements were the one I never really got into. I have Let It Be and Tim, and they both have their moments, but I never find myself going back to either one. I don't know what it is...
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