Wednesday, December 05, 2007

In Praise Of...


The Replacements

If The Clash were the only band that mattered, The Replacements may be the only band never to have given a shit if they mattered.

That's what makes them the greatest fucking rock band of the last quarter-century.

Growing up, The 'Mats were everything I worshipped about rock n' roll, all wrapped up in one scruffy, raw, merrily troublemaking package: They were punks who could not only write great songs, but were always too busy doing it to concern themselves with the stupid "aesthetic" of being punk.

I was already a Replacements fan by the time I joined a band during my first year of college, and was immediately thrilled to find out that my new bandmates held Paul Westerberg, Tommy Stinson and company in the same high regard. Without meaning to, I'm pretty sure we patterned ourselves after The Replacements -- at least insofar as their unspoken conviction that you didn't necessarily need to be virtuoso musicians as long as you could write and play a great song. I'd been playing drums since I was five and was still training with Gene Thaler at the time, a New Jersey transplant to South Florida whose most famous longtime pupil was Max Weinberg of the E Street Band (and eventually Conan O'Brien's house band). Yet despite a damn good pedigree, as well as the obligatory few years spent idolizing Neil Peart, I wanted nothing more during my time in the band than to slam out a 4/4 beat as loud and as hard as I could. I wanted to be so defiant that I didn't even give a goddamn about being defiant.

I wanted to be like The Replacements.

The band I drummed for did exceptionally well for as long as we kept it going. We played out often. We had a few songs hit big on local radio. We toured the East Coast and slept on the floor of anyone kind enough to put us up for a night. We drank -- constantly. We forged a bond that remains to this day and created a hell of a lot of great memories.

I wouldn't trade the experience for anything, ever.

Listening to The 'Mats now always reminds me of those days.

So let's hear from them dammit.

First up, the anthem that defined my generation long before Kurt Cobain thought to scream, "Here we are now, entertain us." The Replacements' big "fuck you" to MTV -- the anti-video for Bastards of Young.



Next, a televised performance worthy of The Replacements. I still laugh everytime I think about watching this live as it happened back in May of 1989. The 'Mats were asked to play the International Rock Music Awards (otherwise known as "The Elvis Awards," a somewhat tepid honor that vanished into obscurity as quickly as it seemed to arrive), the ceremony for which was being broadcast live on network television. As confused as anyone as to why they were invited, Paul Westerberg came right out and asked "What the hell are we doing here?" before launching into the opening chords of Talent Show. Then, network censors dropped the sound out completely during the line in the song where Paul sings "We're feelin' good from the pills we took." This led Tommy Stinson to mock the awards themselves during the break in the song, saying "ELVIS?!?" and then laughing hysterically. Finally, in one last show of wise-ass impudence, Paul changed the lyrics at the end of the song, inserting the word "pills" wherever he could -- defying the censors.



And finally, another very simple video for a spectacular song. From 1987's Pleased to Meet Me album, here's The Ledge.



(By the way, at least one of my ex-bandmates is still making music: Our former guitarist Jay Walsh now sings and plays lead guitar in a damn good Boston band called The Douglas Fir. You can hear their stuff here.)

14 comments:

charly gordon said...

by a strange coincidence, i dug up every 'Mats song that i own and played them through last night.

thanks so much for posting that live video; it fills me with much happiness.

tommy always looked like he was having the time of his life, didn't he?

christ, i miss those guys...

Al said...

I long ago converted my one and only tape of coral gables to MP3 and still grin at the memories of seeing you guys on the patio (with that weird-ass vinyl bra before the hurricane). Good times. Although I will always have a little anger in my heart towards Ankrom. Long story.

Chez said...

That puts you one up on me. You should post that stuff on MySpace somewhere. I seriously doubt any of us would get particularly pissed about that.

tony said...

I have the mp3's too (thanks to Fred Sowder) and they're in rotation in one of my CD-Rs in the car. Most of the songs still rock as hard now as they did then.

Chez said...

The only thing I have left is that old cassette (Christ I'm old).

I think I'll have to get into contact with Fred -- or if any of you nice folks want to give me a kick-ass Christmas gift in the form of a CD or a bunch of files or something, be my guest. : )

mike m said...

Dude with all of the different stuff you've thrown out there on the listening posts, i never would ve pegged you for a mats fan. I had a tape of a live show they did, I got it around '85, i think it was widely circulated. it starts off wiht a cop anouncing the show has been shut down. they do searing versions of" dope smoking morons" and "fuck my school". also inluded covers of Bad Company and a laughable attempt at a Led Zep cover. I saw them many times, but never with Bob "the animal" Stinson on guitar. Loved Paul's 1st solo record, but disapointed with his follow-ups. Its amazing that he turned into his hero, obscure pop god, Alex Chilton.

Lisa said...

The Replacements were the first "alterwavepunky" band I ever heard and I saw them waaaay back in the day at the 9:30 club with Kid Creole. They embodied all that was pure and good and true and evil about rock and roll.

tony said...

Ok Chez, I posted one of the Coral Gables songs on my blog: http://blog.tonyschreiber.com/

Chez said...

Jesus, it's like being in a time machine lately.

Al, thanks for the e-mail with all the old stuff. Certainly strange to hear again after all this time.

Tony, thanks also for the posting. I'd leave a comment for you on your site but you have that Wordpress login shit, and that confuses me and eventually I wind up hitting my keyboard and making ape sounds. Good to hear Architechs as well -- you still owe me like, two or three dollars for the whole "Violence, Sex, Imagination, Catharsis" idea (still got any of those shirts by the way, I'd love one?)

The two Gables songs I'm missing are of course my two favorites. Mr. & Mrs. Hammer and Grace. (I consider the latter to be the one truly enduring song we did.)

Anyone?

tony said...

Please stand by for additional CG tracks...

tony said...

Alright, dude. Grace and Hammer are posted on the blog (http://blog.tonyschreiber.com). Email me and I'll send you a link for the other files I have.

I actually do have several AOF/VSIC tshirts left. They've been buried in my closet for years. Send me your address and one of them is totally yours.

Chez said...

God bless you sir.

Actually, e-mail me because I lost your address and I'm kind of an idiot. (I blame the drugs.)

Chez said...

And I seem to remember you saying it was ArchiTECHS.

Like tech?

Or can I blame the drugs again?

Phred said...

Damn, y'all, thanks for the shoutouts. Tony, I guess you got all the mp3s to Chez already. If not, I'll be happy to send 'em...just say the word. I'm hoping to get some better copies burned from the cassette soon, though...