Sunday, August 30, 2009

NxEW podcast is a Canadian music blog which I very occasionally contribute to. They put out a really great weekly podcast of various Canadian indie music artists (i.e. no Nickleback or Shania Twain allowed). The podcasts span many different genres of music. If you are interested in up-and-coming artists on the Canadian music scene, please check out these podcasts.

This week's podast (#18) is dancy and funky. Last week's (#17) had a more roots and folk feel. Podcast 17 has Feist and Constantines doing "Islands in the Stream," which is very amusing. A few of the featured songs from Poadcast 18:

The Islands
- No You Don't.mp3

The D'Urbervilles - Worst Case Ontario (ft. New Slang).mp3

Download or listen to all of the NxEW podcasts here.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

King of Beers

Last week I made a CD of songs about booze and/or drinking for a friend. Today Paste posted a fun list of 21 Songs About Booze, in honor of the retirement of 95-year-old bartender Angelo Cammarata. Interestingly, our playlists only overlap by one song.

Paste's 21 Songs About Booze
1. The Replacements - "Beer for Breakfast"
2. The Minus Five - "Cigarettes, Coffee and Booze"
3. Courtney Jaye - "Box Wine"
4. Jerry Lee Lewis - "Jack Daniels Old No. 7"
5. Todd Snider - "Beer Run"
6. The Champs - "Tequila"
7. The National - "Bitters & Absolut"
8. Gogol Bordello - "Alcohol"
9. Allstar Cashville Prince feat. Yo Gotti & Lil' Wayne - "Grey Goose"
10. Fear - "I Believe I'll Have Another Beer"
11. Willie Nelson - "Whiskey River"
12. Kiss - "Cold Gin"
13. Oasis - "Champagne Supernova"
14. Luke Doucet - "It's Not the Liquor I Miss"
15. Snoop Dogg - "Gin & Juice"
16. Johnny Russell - "Rednecks, White Socks and Blue Ribbon Beer"
17. Eric Burdon & War - "Spill the Wine"
18. Beck - "Beercan"
19. Tom T. Hall - "I Like Beer"
20. The Doors - "The Alabama Song (Whisky Bar)"
21. John Lee Hooker - "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer"

Rockstar Aimz Drinking Mix
1. The Steeldrivers - "Drinkin' Dark Whiskey"
2. Emmylou Harris - "Two More Bottles of Wine"
3. Drive-By Truckers - "Women Without Whiskey"
4. Two Dollar Pistols - "Wine Me Up" (Faron Young Cover)
5. Willie Nelson - "Whiskey River"
6. Hank Williams, Jr. - "Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound"
7. Hayes Carll - "Knockin' Over Whiskeys"
8. The Devil Makes Three - "Old Number Seven"
9. Uncle Tupelo - "Whiskey Bottle"
10. Eilen Jewell - "High Shelf Booze"
11. Phosphorescent - "I Gotta Get Drunk" (Willie Nelson Cover)
12. Those Darlins - "Glass to You"
13. Lucero - "Drink Till We're Gone"
14. The Replacements - "Here Comes a Regular"
15. Tom Waits - "Bad Liver and a Broken Heart"
16. Whiskeytown - "Too Drunk to Dream"
17. The Sadies - "The Horseshoe"
18. Too Much Joy - "King of Beers"
19. The Hold Steady - "Party Pit"
20. Corb Lund Band - "Time to Switch to Whiskey"
21. Reverend Horton Heat - "Baby, I'm Drunk"
22. Dropkick Murphys - "Kiss Me, I'm Shitfaced"
23. Asskickers - "Goddamn Bad" (song about being hungover)

Too Much Joy - King of Beers.mp3
Buy (MP3 only): Cereal Killers (1991)

My best friend and I would listen to this song all of the time in college.

A man's bar is his castle, and this stool is my throne.
Why am I such an asshole? And why am I here alone?

So many drinking songs, so little time to get drunk. Burp.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

August Feel Bad For You Comp

The mother of all comps. From our friends at Enjoy!

The photo is from a family vacation near LaFollette, Tennessee. Kona the Chocolate Lab leads the chase, but Mikey the Boston Terrier in his personal flotation device will eventually get the tennis ball. I hope I am reincarnated as a dog and I get to spend my next life chasing tennis balls all day.

1. Ben Lee - Away With The Pixies.mp3
From: Grandpaw Would (1995, out of print)

2. Bryn Loosley - "The Wrecker"
The Wrecker (2008)

3. Todd Snider - "Travelin' Light"
A Case For Case: A Tribute to the Songs of Peter Case (2006)

4. Ben E. King - Supernatural Thing.mp3
From: Supernatural Thing (1975, out of print)

5. Rancid - "Civilian Ways"
Let The Dominoes Fall (2009)

6. Steve Goodman - "Yellow Coat"
Steve Goodman (1972)

7. Cheekyboy - Smells Like Compton (NWA vs. Nirvana).mp3
From: Best of Bootie (2005, click link for download info)

8. Loo & Placido - Black Beatles (Beatles vs. Black-Eyed Peas vs. Ludacris vs. Kelis).mp3
From: Best of Bootie (2005, click link for download info)

9. The Builders and The Butchers - "Raise Up Your Weary Hands"
Salvation is a Deep Dark Well (2009)

10. Truckstop Coffee - "Ghost or an Angel"
For Dear Life (2009)

11. The Replacements - "Within Your Reach"
Hootenanny (1984)

12. Bahamas - "Already Yours"
Pink Strat (2009)

13. Sunparlour Players - "Battle of 77"
Wave North (2009)

14. Frank Turner - "Substitute"
Love Ire & Song (2009)

15. Jon Snodgrass feat. Cory Branan - Wild One.mp3
Buy (Suburban Home Records): Jon Snodgrass and Cory Branan (2009, limited edition vinyl)

16. Kathleen Edwards - Moneytalks.mp3
From: Live From the Bowery Ballroom (2003, bootleg)

17. Chris Knight - "Blame Me"
Trailer Tapes II (2009)

Note: 18-23: These songs are all directly/indirectly associated with Tom Wilson.
18. Junkhouse - The Kitchen Feels Like Home.mp3
From: Strays (1993, out of print)
Tom Wilson's second band, out of Hamilton, Ontario.

19. Colin James - Freedom.mp3
Buy (Maple Music): Bad Habits (1995)
Co-written with Tom Wilson. Tom performs this one live with his new band, Lee Harvey Osmond.

20. Blackie & the Rodeo Kings - Blackie & the Rodeo King.mp3
From: High Or Hurtin' (1996, out of print)
Tom's other band (with Stephen Fearing and Colin Linden). Band name taken from a Willie P. Bennett song. Bennett died at age 57 in 2008. Great Canadian songwriter.

21. Skydiggers - "The Truth About Us"
Desmond's Hip City (1997)
Josh Finlayson and Andy Maize are part of Tom's new band, Lee Harvey Osmond. This song was written by a friend of the band, Scott Garbe. Written from the perspective of Lee Harvey Oswald's Russian wife.

22. Tom Wilson/Bob Lanois - "Kids"
The Shack Recordings (2005)
Recorded with Daniel Lanois' brother Bob in a shack in Waterdown, Ontario, which is part of Hamilton, Ontario.

23. Lee Harvey Osmond - "Parkland"
A Quiet Evil (2009)
This song, again written by Scott Garbe. You'll know what it's about when you listen to it. This album is flying under the radar and that's a damn shame.

24. Doc Watson - The Train That Carried My Girl From Town.mp3
Buy: The Doc Watson Family (1990)

25. The Felice Brothers - "Greatest Show on Earth"
The Felice Brothers (2008)

26. Abner Jay - "St. James Infirmary Blues"
True Story of Abner Jay (2009)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


I'm back after a week on the DL, and here is my final post in this series on The Replacements. Their final album All Shook Down, was more or less Paul Westerberg's first solo album. Their label, Warner Brothers, didn't think a Westerberg solo album would sell, so they wanted it labeled as a Replacements album. At this point drummer Chris Mars had quit the band to pursue a visual arts career, and was replaced by Steve Foley. Their last show was on July 4, 1991, in Chicago's Grant park.
Peter Jesperson [Former Replacements manager and co-founder of Twin/Tone records]: They kicked it off with "I Will Dare." Did a surprisingly good version of "Within Your Reach." The two moments that stand out most in my memory are "Talent Show" - when the band hit the breakdown in the middle, Paul stepped to the front of the stage and played the melody of "Send in the Clowns" - that gave me a lump in my throat the size of a baseball. And when they closed with "Hootenanny," it was pretty sad, not funny like it used to be. (p. 232)
From: The Replacements: All Over But the Shouting, An Oral History (2007)

There are bootlegs of this show floating around somewhere. If you can hook me up, I'll be your new best friend. Edit: Simon2307 is my new best friend.

Buy: All Shook Down (1990, reissued with bonus tracks in 2008)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

United Breaks Guitars Part II

Back in early July, Halifax musician Dave Carroll released a song and video about his experiences with United Airlines trashing his guitar on a flight to Chicago. The catchy country number and hysterical video took off virally, and soon Carroll found himself being interviewed by CBC, CNN, Fox News and dozens of smaller media outlets in between. And Carroll even got an apology from United Airlines.

A few days ago Carroll and his band Son of Maxwell released their second song and video (of three) in the "United Breaks Guitars" series. This song is more of a jazzy tune, with an oom-pah-pah/dixieland feel. And the video is equally funny. Enjoy!

You can purchase "United Breaks Guitars" parts 1 and 2 on iTunes or on the Sons of Maxwell website.

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!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Jim Dickinson 1941-2009

As I was finishing yesterday's Replacements post, a blip came over my Twitter feed that Jim Dickinson had passed away. I thought, "no that can't be the same Jim Dickinson that I just wrote about." But unfortunately, it was. Here is the Associated Press article on Dickinson's life via Yahoo news.
Memphis producer, musician Jim Dickinson dies
By CHRIS TALBOTT, Associated Press Writer Sat Aug 15, 7:32 pm ET

JACKSON, Miss. – Jim Dickinson, a musician and producer who helped shape the Memphis sound in a career that spanned more than four decades, died Saturday. He was 67.

His wife, Mary Lindsay Dickinson, said he died in a Memphis, Tenn., hospital after three months of heart and intestinal bleeding problems.

The couple lived in Hernando, Miss., but Dickinson recently had bypass surgery and was undergoing rehabilitation at Methodist University Hospital, his wife said.

Jim Dickinson, perhaps best known as the father of Luther and Cody Dickinson, two-thirds of the Grammy-nominated North Mississippi Allstars, managed an outsider's career in an insider's industry. He recorded with and produced greats like Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan, Big Star, The Rolling Stones, The Replacements and Sam & Dave.

His work in the 1960s and '70s is still influential as young artists rediscover the classic sound of Memphis from that era — a melting pot of rock, pop, blues, country, and rhythm and blues.

"I think he was an incredibly influential individual," Big Star drummer Jody Stephens said Saturday. "I think he defined independent spirit in music, and I think that touched a lot of people."

Dickinson's music was informed by his eclectic and encyclopedic record collection — sold off and rebuilt a few times over the years, usually around Christmas — and his wide array of friends.

"As a producer, it really is all about taste," Jim Dickinson said in a 2008 interview with The Associated Press. "And I'm not the greatest piano player in the world, but I've got damn good taste. I'll sit down and go taste with anybody."

A dabbler in music while in college and later in shows at the famed Overton Park Shell in Memphis, Dickinson was on his way to becoming "a miserable history teacher." But his wife insisted he focus on his music after watching him play shows with the blues legends of Memphis.

"They were rediscovering Furry Lewis and Sleepy John Estes, Rev. Robert Wilkins, these talents that were like gods," Mary Lindsay Dickinson said in 2008. "They were street sweepers. They were yard men. They had no money, no fame, even though they'd invented this style, this musical style that was changing the world. When I saw what he could do with them — he thought he was gonna be a history teacher — I said, 'No, no, no, no, let's try music and see what happens."

Jim Dickinson moved around, traveling with both his own projects and as a sideman until his sons were born. He gave up the road and the lifestyle, built a home studio and settled in to the hard-scrabble life of the independent producer that he jokingly compared to hustling.

His sense of humor, gift for storytelling and open door kept musicians filing through his studio and kitchen as his sons grew up. He took an interest in the boys' music as another father might his sons' baseball career, even drawing Luther and Cody into his own bands. They last released an album together as Jungle Jim and the Voodoo Tiger in 2006.

"Growing up he would play piano and electric guitar and it just always fascinated me, and I always had a little toy guitar of some sort around," Luther Dickinson said in 2008. "And I've really been blessed because I always knew what I wanted to do and it was totally because of my dad and his friends."

Dickinson's career touched on some of the most important music made in the '60s and '70s. He recorded the Rolling Stones' "Wild Horses" in Muscle Shoals, Ala.; formed the Atlantic Records house band The Dixie Flyers to record with Franklin and other R&B legends in Miami; inspired a legion of indie rock bands through his work with Big Star; collaborated with Ry Cooder on a number of movie scores, including Paris, Texas; and played with Dylan on his Grammy-winning return to prominence, Time Out of Mind.

He credited his work with Big Star on Third/Sister Lovers with keeping his tape reels turning over the years, and Stephens found Dickinson's fingerprints all over the album when he listened to it recently.

"There's so many contributions from people that Jim either brought in or helped steer," Stephens said. "And sometimes a brilliant decision is to do nothing, allow space and that sort of thing. His keyboard part in 'Kizza Me' is this great fractured piano that kind of cascades, like the piano's falling down a flight of steps. I think it was all about the spirit and the emotion."

Dickinson's later work as a producer veered wildly across genres, skipping from Mudhoney to T Model Ford to Lucero and Amy Lavere.

"I'm not really a success-oriented person," Dickinson said. "If you look back at my records that I've made as a producer, they're pretty left-wing. It's some pretty off-the-wall stuff. Especially in the punk rock days. I literally took clients because I thought it would impress my children. I did work in the '70s and '80s where that was definitely my main motive."
Some examples of songs Dickinson produced, recorded, or played on:

Flamin' Groovies - Teenage Head.mp3
Buy: Teenage Head (1971, reissued 2008)
Not mentioned in the above article, Dickinson played piano on this track.

Big Star - Kizza Me.mp3
Buy: Third/Sister Lovers (1978, reissued 1992)

Lucero - Drink Till We're Gone.mp3
From: The Coldwater Sessions (~2000)
Rough mixes of what would become Lucero's first self-titled album, recorded on Dickinson's farm in Coldwater, Mississippi.

Bob Dylan - Not Dark Yet.mp3
Buy: Time Out of Mind (1997)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Never Mind

No, not the Nirvana album. A lyric from this song by The Replacements is from where Jim Walsh takes the title of his book The Replacements: "All Over But the Shouting," An Oral History (2007). Pleased to Meet Me was essentially recorded as a trio; lead guitarist Bob Stinson had been kicked out of the band allegedly due to his drug and alcohol abuse. It was also the first time The 'Mats recorded an album outside of their native Minneapolis. They recorded in Memphis with producer Jim Dickinson who had produced albums for Big Star, a band that was hugely influential on the songwriting style of Paul Westerberg. The album cover is a clear representation of a working class band sucking up to a large record label (in this case, Warner Brothers).

Dickinson inserted horns, strings, and "oohs and aahs" into some of the songs, giving the album a very slick feel, in my opinion. To quote drummer Chris Mars from Walsh's book:
Up to Pleased to Meet Me, no one told anyone what to do. We would suggest things and were very democratic. Until then, we just went in and did what we did, and let it rip. Then, the last couple, it started getting, "You should do this beat" - people telling you that to do, so that kinda sucked. (p. 195)
Never Mind.mp3
Buy: Pleased to Meet Me (1987, reissued with bonus tracks 2008)

Aquarium Drunkard has a really nice recent post on the song "Can't Hardly Wait." This song was originally recorded during the Tim sessions, but not officially released until Pleased to Meet Me, two years later. The first release of this song has horns and strings in the background, while other versions that were officially released on the Tim and Please to Meet Me 2008 CD reissues have different lyrics, and different electric and/or acoustic guitar mixes. And this year Justin Townes Earle released a countrified cover of the song. Just try getting his mandolin melody out of your head!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Left of the Dial

Now we come to my favorite Replacements album, Tim. This album was their first major label release (on Sire Records, a subsidiary of Warner Brothers), and their first recording without Twin/Tone Records co-founder Peter Jesperson. Many fans complain about the production on this album, not to mention the ugly artsy-fartsy album cover, but I still think its their strongest, especially in terms of songwriting. But, a major label can also mean major headaches.

Paul Westerberg: "We're making money, but we don't see it because you got like lawyers and accountants and fuckheads." (p. 169)

From: The Replacements: All Over But the Shouting, An Oral History (2007)

This major label exposure also got The 'Mats on Saturday Night Live in January 1986. Apparently the band got drunk as hell and Westerberg said "fuck" on national television, not to mention singing "Kiss Me on the Butt," instead of "Bus." Awesome. Oh how I wish You Tube footage of that performance existed! Screw you lip-syncing Ashley Simpson, take some notes from the professionals.

Here is The Replacements homage to 1980s college radio:

Left of the Dial.mp3
Buy: Tim (1985, reissued with bonus tracks 2008)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What Would Paul Westerberg Do?

On Monday, I received an e-mail from our friends at Google telling me that my Saturday, August 8, post on John Hughes Movie Soundtracks "infringes upon the copyrights of others." Specifically, the tracks "If You Leave" by OMD and "Don't You (Forget About Me)" by Simple Minds were violating some copyright somewhere. I found this "infringement" sort of odd as both songs are over 20 years old, and non of the other songs got pulled even though they were on the same soundtrack. And, I am in Canada where distribution of digital media for personal use is still legal (or hasn't been definitively ruled on yet). But I do use a Google service (blogger) which is based in the US, so I gotta play by their rules.

Anyway, since I am still on my Replacements bender, it got me thinking, what would Paul Westerberg do in this situation? Westy sort of got himself in hot water last year when he self-released his seventh solo album 49:00 on Amazon for the bargain price of $0.49. This "Mesterpiece," consisting of a single 43 minute MP3 track, was posted on Amazon on June 21, 2008, and was taken down a few days later due to potential copyright issues on the closing medley which included samples from The Beatles, Hank William, and Alice Cooper, among others. Westerberg is quoted on as saying, "Ten publishers came after us immediately 'cause I used all these snippets of songs that I recorded. It was either pay up or pull the thing."

I have decided to repost my love for John Hughes and his kick-ass musical tastes here, with the offending links removed.

John Hughes Move Soundtracks

Let us take a break from my Replacements bender to celebrate the legacy of John Hughes. Hughes passed away suddenly at age 59 on Thursday, August 6, from an apparent heart attack. To me, and many of my generation, Hughes had more of an affect on our lives than that of Michael Jackson. I remember seeing Pretty in Pink and Ferris Bueller's Day Off in the theatre. And my mom taped The Breakfast Club off of HBO, and I watched it over and over and over again. Not to mention the National Lampoon's Vacation series, which I did not realize that Hughes wrote until I read an online tribute. Jeez, my nut-ball family lived Christmas Vacation one year. And who doesn't get choked up when Neal (Steve Martin) invites Del (John Candy) to his home for Thanksgiving in Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. Speaking of "Automobile???" is there a more non-PC or fucking hysterical character than Long Duk Dong in Sixteen Candles? "No more yanky my wanky. The Donger need food!" Ha ha ha ha! Yeah, full of terrible stereotypes, but its was the 80s, the Reagan era, and half of Hollywood was on blow.

Many of Hughes' movies also have tremendous soundtracks. I am going to focus on two in particular, which I listened to non-stop on cassette on my Sony Walkman in the 1980s. First, the soundtrack to Pretty in Pink. I literally just repurchased this one on CD earlier this year. I found it in a 2/$15 bin at HMV. This entire soundtrack is so amazing. First, you have your pop hit with OMD's "If You Leave" featured in the film's penultimate prom scene. Plus some unbelievable 80's alternative artists in The Smiths and Echo and the Bunnymen. Some dance-pop with New Order, and the incredibly poignant "Left of Center" by Suzanne Vega featuring Joe Jackson on piano. The Psychedelic Furs remade their 1981 college radio hit "Pretty in Pink" for this film; they added horns and very glossy production. Not a bad song on this soundtrack. Oh the 80s nostalgia!

This is not on the soundtrack, but how can you not love Duckie (played by John Cryer) lip-syncing Otis Redding's "Try a Little Tenderness" right before Andie breaks his heart.

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark - If You Leave.mp3
Suzanne Vega and Joe Jackson - Left of Center.mp3
The Psychedelic Furs - Pretty in Pink.mp3
Buy: Pretty In Pink: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (1986)

Next, the soundtrack that contained the anthem to many disillusioned 1980s teenagers. The Breakfast Club soundtrack is not nearly as consistent as the above album, but it still contains a few gems. In particular, Simple Minds "Don't You (Forget About Me)" was such a powerful song on the adolescent mind. And I always like "Fire in the Twilight" by Wang Chung, and "We are Not Alone" by Karla DeVito. I apparently don't have and/or can't find the CD, so I am including a bonus track that was not on the soundtrack. At the beginning of the movie you see these words before the screen "shatters" to a shot of Shermer High School in the fictional Shermer, Illinois.

"And these children that you spit on, as they try to change their worlds, are immune to your consultations, they're quite aware of what they're going through." - David Bowie, "Changes"

Simple Minds - Don't You (Forget About Me).mp3
Buy: The Breakfast Club: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (1985)

David Bowie - Changes.mp3
Buy (MP3 only): ChangesBowie (1990)The CD is apparently out of print. Huh?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Let it Be

Let It Be (1984, reissued 2008)is The Replacements fourth studio album and is considered a "masterpiece" my many 'Mats fans. It was given a five star rating by All Music. It was also the Replacements breakthrough album in that people outside of the upper Midwest really started to pay attention to the band. I love the cover art (right top), a photograph by Daniel Corrigan, taken on the roof of Bob and Tommy Stinson's family home in South Minneapolis. It reminds me of my summers in Evanston, Illinois, where my friends and I would hang out on the roof and drink beer. According to the book, The Replacements: All Over But the Shouting, An Oral History (2007)by Jim Walsh, Corrigan actually preferred a shot he took of the band in a University of Minnesota elevator (right, bottom), which was used on the album sleeve.

I've posted songs from Let It Be earlier in this series, so instead I am going to focus on an artist who was greatly influenced by The 'Mats. Craig Finn is originally from suburban Minneapolis, and also grew up on The Replacements. He is currently the lead singer for The Hold Steady, who regular readers of My Aimz is True will recognize as one of my current favorite bands.
When Let It Be came out, I was take taking guitar lessons from Chris Osgood ["godfather of the Minneapolis music scene"], and the record started doing well, and he stopped teaching me and went over to work at Twin/Tone. I got into them the summer of eighth grade, and Let It Be came out that fall. One of my chores was to mow the lawn, and I did it early that week so I could go to Oarfolk and get it.

My dad sensed this was really important to me, and he said, "Why don't I just drive you up there." And he bought the record for me out of his money, not mine, and whoever it was behind the counter rang up the record, turned on the music [on the turntable behind the counter], and he looks at me and points at my dad and goes, "Cool dad." Then points at me and looks at my dad and goes, "Cool kid." (p. 127)

They are my favorite band, and I think about them more than I should. Them and the [Minnesota] Twins occupy an unhealthy amount of my brain. (p. 42)

To my ears, the below song was heavily influenced by The Replacements.

The Hold Steady - The Swish.mp3
Buy: Almost Killed Me (2004)

Friday, August 7, 2009

Within Your Reach

The Replacements producer/manager Peter Jesperson:
We cut "Within Your Reach" during that secret solo Paul [Westerberg] session. And Chris [Mars] tried to play drums on it, and it just wasn't working. It didn't fit the song. And for some reason, [Suicide Commandos drummer] Dave Ahl had a drum machine there and we turned that on and [engineer Steve] Fjelstad mic'd it up and that's what we used for the song. (p.111)
Buy: The Replacements: All Over But the Shouting, An Oral History (2007)

Within Your Reach.mp3
Buy: Hootenanny (1983, reissued 2008)
I can't remember exactly, but I am pretty sure that this is the first Replacements song that I ever heard. It is also on the Say Anything Soundtrack (1989). I thought about Say Anything when I heard that John Hughes passed away yesterday, and even though Say Anything is a Cameron Crowe movie, the soundtrack rates up there with the Pretty in Pink soundtrack, both of which shaped my teenage years. More on Mr. Hughes tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Kids Don't Follow

The Replacements first studio album, Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash (1981), which many consider one of the best American punk albums of all time, barely got any play outside of Minneapolis/St. Paul area. Regardless, they followed-up this release with an EP entitled Stink. The cassette and album covers were hand stamped, giving the release even more of an underground feel.

Lori Barbero
, a Minneapolis musician and drummer for Babes in Toyland, talks about the opening track in the book The Replacements: All Over But the Shouting, An Oral History:
I was there, at that warehouse party [the live recording of which opens Stink]. I'm the one who goes "Whoo!" at the beginning. I remember the Replacements being set up on the floor, and the cops coming, and there were only twenty-five, thirty people there. I was a little lit, and I was like, "You have to be kidding me. This is the most terrorizing thing going on in Minnesapolis tonight?"

That's Dave Pirner [of Soul Asylum] screaming ["Fuck you, man!"] at the beginning of "Kids Don't Follow." (p.89)
Kids Don't Follow.mp3
Buy: Stink (1982, reissued with bonus tracks 2008)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

If Only You Were Lonley

Grant Hart, Mark Olson, Prince Rogers Nelson, and Paul Westerberg were all born within three and a half years of each other in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. Hart, New York-born Bob Mould and Illinois-born Greg Norton stated the hardcore band Husker Du at about the same time as Westerberg and his Minneapolis- born friends Bobby and Tommy Stinson and Chris Mars formed The Replacements. The two bands even performed together and had somewhat of a healthy competition in the Minneapolis music scene. Although by the time that Husker Du and The Replacements released their first albums in 1981, Prince had already released four albums, and was on the verge of mega-stardom with his fifth release 1999 (1982). Jim Walsh's book The Replacements: All Over But the Shouting, An Oral Historyhints that Westerberg and Prince may have gone to high school together, with Prince being a year ahead of Westy. Walsh even reports of a crazy 1981 Replacements outdoor show where "Prince sat on the grass wearing a confused smirk throughout the set." (p. 148) To quote Westerberg:
[Prince has] always been a great musician: If he's a pop star or he's in vogue is irrelevant. Like Coltrane or Sly Stone, he's creative, he's great. He's the shit. He's a great, great musician. And, in a way, I think that I am - you know, not as great - but maybe more of a songwriter. I am a musician and a writer, and I'll always be. And if I'm hip or if I'm an old man, that shouldn't really matter. I'm gonna do this forever, and I think we have that in common. (p. 53)
A few years later Mark Olson along with his Toledo-born pal Gary Louris and friends Marc Perlman and Norm Rogers formed the seminal alt country band The Jayhawks. Their first release came out in 1986. Likewise, in that same year a slightly younger Minneapolis-based band, Soul Asylum was releasing their second album.

It completely blows my minds that five very different, yet highly influential artists could emerge from a city like Minneapolis all within a few years of each other. This isn't New York, or Los Angeles, or even London. Its a land-locked city in the upper Midwest settled by Northern European loggers, where one freezes their ass off in the winter, and which, until very recently, contained an Norwegian Consulate. But, its also where Bob Dylan first learned how to play folk music.

The Replacements were massively influential on American rock music, while Husker Du similarly influenced hard rock and punk. Soul Asylum became a pop band with some huge hits in the early 90s, while, as mentioned, The Jayhawks were wildly influential in alt country and country music. And Prince, well, Prince's music has had some influence on every style of music, but most notably on pop and R&B. And, all of these artists are still active in their respective genres. Westerberg, Mould, Olson & Louris, and Prince all put out albums within the last year, they have over 30 years of music experience each. Westy was right, they are gonna do this forever.

Prince - Head.mp3
Buy: Controversy (1981)

Husker Du - Never Talking to You Again.mp3
Buy: Zen Arcade (1984)

Soul Asylum - Made to be Broken.mp3
Buy: Made to Be Broken (1986)

The Jayhawks - Martin's Song.mp3
Buy: Blue Earth (1989, reissued 2003)

The Replacements - If Only You Were Lonely.mp3
Buy: Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash (1981, reissued 2008)
This Westerberg solo track was not on the original album, but can now be found among the 13 bonus tracks on the 2008 reissue. This song was originally released as a B-side to "I'm in Trouble," The Replacements first official single.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

I Will Dare

After two days of reading I am now on page 95 of Jim Walsh's The Replacements: All Over But the Shouting, An Oral History. At first I didn't like the book mainly because of the style in which it is written. It literally is an "oral" history in that every paragraph is a quote from someone associated in some way with The Replacements, be it a fan, a musician, a fellow writer, or even a relative. Walsh did tons of research finding hundreds of old interviews from various magazine and newspaper articles that quote Paul Westerberg and others from that era. Plus dozens of personal interviews conducted in 2006 and 2007. Unfortunately Westerberg and bassist Tommy Stinson did not participate in Walsh's research. The writing style, or lack thereof, makes the book sort of hard to read, and I can understand the critiques on Amazon which say that Walsh was "lazy" in compiling this book. However, to me it is still very engaging.

I'm now through the part of the book that covers the release of their first album, Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash(1981) and their followup EP Stink(1982). Like Walsh, I've decided to take the so-called lazy approach and instead of trying to blog about the legacy that is The Replacements, I am just going to post quotes from the book which I really like, and add some music to go along with it. You should read the book and learn about The Replacements on your own.

Each chapter starts with the lyrics of a song about The Replacements from a different artist. I am surprised and amused by how many artists wrote songs about The Replacements, but I will write more about that later. The introduction quotes the lyrics to the Tommy Womack song below, which I completely forgot that I had in my collection. The below quote is from Joe Henry, now an accomplished musician and producer himself. Henry's new album Blood From the Stars comes out on August 18.
The first time I heard the Replacements? It was a spring day in 1984 in Ann Abror, Michigan. I'd just gotten home from the medical library where I was being paid to waste my time, and I pulled a new record called Let It Be out of its sleeve and set it spinning. Even before the vocals came in on "I Will Dare," I was sold. It swung; and the Replacements sounded funny and pissy and arrogant and mopey all at once. I had felt for a long time like a forgotten soldier, but on an afternoon that was unseasonably warm after a hard Midwestern winter, they sounded to me like the goddamn cavalry coming through. (p. 39)
I Will Dare.mp3
Buy: Let It Be (1984, reissued 2008)

Tommy Womack
- The Replacements.mp3
Buy: Circus Town (2002)