When the Replacements hooked up with a major label in the mid ‘80s, it marked a step towards the mainstream for these former indie rockers. Certainly on the later Sire albums, now reissued with bonus tracks, the Mats’ sound became a little more accessible and less punk oriented compared to their Twin/Tone output. But it’s no less urgent and endearing.
Tim leads off with a great rocker in Hold My Life and it doesn’t stop there with some terrific tracks like the tender “Kiss Me on the Bus,” “Left of the Dial” and “Bastards of Young.” (The raw, punk side of the ‘Mats was still there with “Dose of Thunder,” while “Here Comes a Regular” is a moving and lonely stark ballad). Sadly guitarist Bob Stinson was fired after Tim though the follow-up Pleased to Meet Me doesn’t slack off because of it with two popular cuts: “Can’t Hardly Wait” and the brilliant “Alex Chilton” a tribute to the underrated master of power pop. There some driving rockers like “I.O.U.”, and “Red Red Wine,” as well as some stylistic diversions such as Memphis blues on “I Don’t Know,” the jazzy loungey “Nightclub Jitters,” and country folk on the tender “Skyway.”
There are some anthemic moments on the generally upbeat Don’t Tell a Soul, particularly on “Darlin’ One” and “Anywhere’s Better Than Here.” The album’s best-known tracks are its most strongest: “I’ll Be You” and “Achin’ To Be.” “They’re Blind” is a lilting pop song, and Asking Me Lies has a slight funk rock feel.
The final Replacements album, All Shook Down sounds more stripped down and spare (the title track) than the heavy rock production of the previous albums. Yet there are also some really strong material on this underrated set: “Merry Go-Round,” “Happy Town,” and the aching “Sadly Beautiful.” If anything that last record and the all Sire albums in general represented a mature growth from the once-ramshackle group.
“Alex Chilton” on YouTube: