The Replacements emerged from Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1981, and fused elements of punk and power pop to drive the surging college radio sound of the 1980s. Featuring guitarist and vocalist Paul Westerberg, guitarist Bob Stinson, bass guitarist Tommy Stinson and drummer Chris Mars, the band recorded seven gritty, yet accessible albums over the decade.
The Replacements were also known as ‘Mats’ for “Placemats,” which came from a mix up on the band’s name by a club they played early in their careers. The faithful glommed onto it, and those in the know still refer to the band as Mats instead of their proper moniker.
The Replacements flamed out toward the end of the 80s as Bob Stinson departed in 1986 with Chris Mars following in 1990. The last two albums (Don’t Tell A Soul, All Shookdown) were mostly driven by Westerberg, and lacked the edge the band demonstrated in previous releases. Despite the losses to the line up, the band did not break up until 1991.
Westerberg went onto have some success as a solo artist, and in 2012, he reformed the band with Tommy Stinson. The two original members toured with guitarist Dave Minehan and drummer Josh Freese for six live shows in 2013. Apparently it went well, as they are confirmed to play Coachella in 2014. A hardcore fan base includes several notable alternative acts such as: They Might Be Giants, The GooGoo Dolls, Uncle Tupelo, and Whiskeytown.
The Hold Steady’s Craig Finn has often referred to the song “I Will Dare” as the perfect rock song. Listen to his story of how The Replacements influenced him as a kid growing up in Minnesota:
Craig Finn on “I Will Dare” by the Replacements
The Replacements have remained relevant and been rediscovered by whole new generation partly because they influenced artists like Finn and Colin Meloy of the Decemberists. Meloy wrote a book reflecting on how the Replacement’s seminal third album, Let it Be, influenced his adolescent years while growing up in Montana. Independent bloggers can also take some of the credit too; especially sites like Captain’s Dead that has hosted several live shows, and Slicing Up Eyeballs, which is really dedicated to the entire period of 80s college radio. From Captain’s Dead, we encourage you to grab: Live at CBGBs on 10/12/84 and the Missing Action Bootleg while these recordings are still available.
What I loved about this band was its ability to go from raucous “piss on you” live punk performances to thoughtful masterpieces like “I Will Dare,” “Left of the Dial,” and “Alex Chilton.”
For every kid who aspires to grab a guitar and play, the Replacements can serve as motivation to succeed. Not among the glamorous or super famous during their time, they left a nice crater on the landscape of alternative rock.
“I Will Dare”
“Left of the Dial”
“Bastards of Young”
“Can’t Hardly Wait” (Live in Toronto 8/25/13) via
“Talent Show” (Live from 1991) via