The Replacements – Songs For Slim

The Replacements have gotten back together (sort of) for Songs For Slim....
The Replacements : Songs For Slim
8.2 New West

The Replacements : Songs For SlimSince their break-up in 1991, iconic Minneapolis alt-rock outfit The Replacements’ acclaim has only grown – especially in the past few years, with the twenty-first century’s ‘everything old is new again’ spate of reunions and rediscoveries (say what you will about iTunes and file-sharing, but the internet has certainly made it easier for people to discover bands that they missed way back when).  There was last year’s fan-driven documentary, Color Me Obsessed, or Joan Jett joining Against Me! (QRO spotlight on) and their singer Laura Jane Grace (formerly Tom Gabel – QRO interview) covering ‘Mats classic “Androgynous” at Against Me!’s first NYC appearance (QRO photos) since Grace came out as transgender.  Or look at Art Brut’s (QRO spotlight on) excellent “The Replacements”, where singer Eddie Argos (QRO interview) asks, “How have I only just found out about The Replacements?!?”

Unfortunately, the times have been somewhat tougher on the actual members of The Replacements.  While bassist Tommy Stinson (QRO photos) is in bands like Soul Asylum and even Guns ‘n’ Roses (not to mention his own solo work – QRO solo album review), his brother & original Mats guitarist Bob Stinson passed away in 1995.  Singer/guitarist Paul Westerberg is still going strong, but the band’s final drummer Steve Foley died in 2008.  And guitarist Slim Dunlap (who came in after Bob Stinson) suffered a stroke in 2012.  But The Replacements have gotten back together (sort of) for Songs For Slim, an EP to go with limited edition seven-inches to benefit Dunlap.

Whether Songs For Slim counts as a reunion is still somewhat debatable, as not only is there no Dunlap (or Bob Stinson or Steve Foley) on it, original drummer Chris Mars (who was on all The Replacements records but the final one, All Shook Down) didn’t want to work with Westerberg – so four of the songs are performed by Westerberg & Tommy Stinson, and one by Mars & Stinson (Mars also provided the album’s art).  Also, three of the five tracks are covers – but the other two are written by Dunlap himself.

The first Dunlap piece, “Busted Up”, is the kind of sloppy (in the great Mats way) drunken honky-tonk that you would have expected to find on early record Hootenanny (which Dunlap wasn’t even on).  The other (performed by Mars), “Radio Hook Word Hit”, is a great country-garage rambler.  One aspect of The Replacements that they still don’t get enough credit for is helping to invent alt-country, by bringing the fun rhythms of country into alt-rock.

Another aspect that’s often forgotten is that they were a great cover band, up there with Yo La Tengo (QRO live review) in their wide repertoire of covers and ability to deliver them.  One gets that on the b-side of greatest hits double-disc Nothing For All (whose second disc is full of non-album gems, making the release one of the best greatest hits albums out there), or on their classic accidental live recording, Shit Hits the Fans (some fan was recording a performance on a cassette player in 1984 – manager took the cassette & discovered it was great; put it out as a release).  Songs For Slim has Westerberg & co. covering Gordon Lightfoot’s “I’m Not Sayin’” (a bit sweeter ‘Mats, but not All Shook Down-level sincerity), the very honky-tonk “Lost Highway” by Leon Payne, and even Steven Sondheim’s “Everything’s Coming Up Roses”, whose mock-sweet is another classic ‘Mats aspect.

Westerberg has hinted that there might be a Replacements reunion tour in the offing – though it seemingly wouldn’t include Mars, but Tommy Stinson would have to make it a priority over all his other work (even G n’ F n’ R…).  Until then, enjoy Songs For Slim, which is out as both a digital EP and signed, limited edition, auction-only benefit seven-inches.  There’s also a monthly ‘Songs For Slim’ series of limited edition seven-inches by friends & admirers like Steve Earle, Craig Finn, John Doe, The Minus 5 with Peter Buck, Frank Black, and more.  And they all benefit Dunlap’s recovery.

The Replacements – Busted Up

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