Monday, August 17, 2009

I'll Be You

The Replacements seventh studio album Don't Tell a Soul was the band's attempt at breaking into the mainstream. It has a very polished, radio-friendly production, and contains some wonderful power pop tracks. And Paul Westerberg's voice sounds fantastic. This album came out the year that I got my driver's license, and I wore out the cassette tape in my father's Pontiac 6000. I listened to "I'll Be You" over and over and over again. The song actually got some radio play and made the Billboard Modern Rock and Album charts, peaking at #51 (the one and only "hit" for the band). I introduced this song to my college buddies in Chicago in 1991, and it blew them away.

Just imagine if Don't Tell a Soul was released a few years later during the power-pop resurgence of the mid-90s along with albums by Matthew Sweet, Material Issue, and Teenage Fanclub.
It was an exciting time, working on "I'll Be You." It's a romantic cliche to say "a band ahead of its time," but they really were. If that band would have come out with those records another generation later, I really think they'd talk about Paul the way they talk about Kurt Cobain. That band would have had half a dozen number-one records.

Getting "I'll Be You" to be the number-one rock track is really phenomenal if you look at what kind of stuff was around at the time. At the time, they were competing for chart position with Van Halen and Tom Petty and Rod Stewart and Traveling Wilburys and things like that. The mighty KQRS [the classic rock station in the Twin Cities] added it, and that meant it would be added in Chicago and Detroit and everywhere. And we got it all the way to number one [on airplay charts]. It was the most played record in that format at the time. (p. 215)

- Ken Ornberg, St. Paul-based founder of KABL radio, and the radio rep for Universal Music Group
Buy: The Replacements: All Over But the Shouting, An Oral History (2007)

I'll Be You.mp3
Buy: Don't Tell a Soul (1989, reissued with bonus tracks 2008)

Here is one of my favorite Replacements moments, the 1989 1st International Rock Awards (I think it folded after the third show). First, the female announcer "apologizes," then Westerberg says, "What the hell are we doing here?" The band launches into "Talent Show" and Paul sticks his tongue out at the camera just before Tommy's bass line kicks in. The ABC censors bleep out the line "feeling good from the pills we took," and Paul rolls his eyes. But Westerberg sticks it to the man on live TV by singing "its too late to take pills, here we go..." in ending the chorus. Not once, not twice, but three times! Now that's rock and roll!


simon2307 said...

Great set of posts Aimz, I must admit my knowledge of The Replacements music is very limited, I intend to remedy this ASAP.

Teenage Fanclub are working on a new album at the moment, tentative release date is Jan 2010.

mmrules said...

The Replacements Rule !