Monday, December 20, 2004

Left of the Dial

The Replacements remain an interesting band because they were always referential of their heroes. Of course, this was often conflicted by the fact that the band didn’t all have the same heroes, but it didn’t matter – and they never really took themselves that seriously anyway. Or did they? Prior to the recording of Pleased to Meet Me , Bob Stinton had left the band (allegedly brought about because of his drinking habits), and you could be excused for believing that The Replacements really were a band in hiatus. But things are never that straightforward, and although and Pleased to Meet Me hails a significant change of direction for the band, it’s even more clear that Paul Westerberg was calling the shots now.

He of course was a frontman looking for mainstream success – and the opportunity to be taken seriously – but self-doubt continued to linger on. Nevertheless, despite reviews that describe a stifling, clean and focused production by Jim Dickinson, tracks like “IOU” and “The Ledge” are unhinged and delirious masterpieces of rock and roll reverence. But like I said before, there is nothing straightforward about The Replacements, and it goes doubly for this album. Paul Westerberg might have had his artistic control, but his outlook is on the band is summarised perfectly in the aptly titled “I don’t know” when he half rasps and half screams, "One foot in the door/The other foot in the gutter,” because he doesn’t know what do next.

Now I was going to focus on “The Ledge," which is perhaps, the most straightforward song on the album. This track was penned as a song about teen suicide, but it gained notoriety for it's introspective first-person lyrics (I'm the boy they can't ignore/For the first time in my life I'm sure/All the love sent up high to pledge/Won't reach the ledge), apparently sung in the voice of a confused teenager (Paul Westerberg) crouching outside a high downtown window – the final squeal of the closing chorus suggests that he has even jumped. Now, it’s undoubtedly a fantastic song, but I’m going to leave you with the first song on the album. It’s slightly more positive and equally as raucous; It also perfectly sums up why I got into The Replacements in the first place:

“So what do they sound like?”
“The sound of a barroom brawl!”

The Replacements- I.O.U

Buy the album from Amazon and click here for The Replacements scrapbook.


At 8:24 pm, Blogger Craig said...

always nice to read another perspective on the mats. I saw them in nj in 86/87 it was a great show with lots of other little punklers in attendance.


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