I don’t think anyone who loves music for any length of time could have just one. That being stated, definitely on the list for me would be The Replacements 4th album Tim.
This album came out when I was 10 years old in 1985, so it was after the radio play of The Replacements last album “All Shook Down” in 1990 that I went back to their older catalog and found this gem at the ripe age of 15. If you know nothing about this band this is a good place to start.
The rung out beginning chords of “Hold My Life” reminded me (at 15) of The Who, and Sex Pistols, but then when Paul Westerberg’s vocals come in where you would expect a yell or scream, instead you get mumbled and subdued tone. As a kid trying to start his Garage Band this vocal style was attainable! Other side-one greats are “Kiss Me On the Bus”, “Waitress in the Sky”, and the subdued “Swinging Party”.
It’s the Side B is where I was hooked as a fan for life. WIth the anthemic “Bastards of Young” I don’t know if this is, but if not this should be the Gen X anthem. Westerbergs lyrics solidify the way I felt at the time about my friends and my generation…all latch-key kids from broken homes that are left to their own devices; to raise themselves. “The ones who love us best are the ones we’ll lay to rest, visit their graves on Holidays at best. The ones who love us least are the ones we’ll die to please.”
Also on this side is: “Left of the Dial” which is rumored to be inspired by hearing an REM song on the radio on a college station hence Left of the Dial…This song has a great POV video before that was a thing, of a guy smoking a cigarette and watching a subwoofer gyrate while he listens to the song. The album ends with the quintessential bar ballad “Here Comes a Regular”-as a bar owner, a staple on any closing playlist.
The Replacements are the clap back to all the slickly produced New Wave and Pop music to come out of the decade. The Journeyman style approach to their records inspired me and spoke to me in a whisper as if to say: “You can so this-if we can…play some chords and write some words.” I didn’t realize then how hard it actually is to be as honest as The Replacements. This record taught me that vocals and music do not have to be perfect to have meaning, that fast beat is not needed for a song to be aggressive, ballads don’t have to be sappy, that the art form of songwriting did not die with John Lennon and can be learned and crafted with a pad of paper, a guitar, in the back of a van.
Bite Me Bambi’s Hurry Up and Wait EP is out now.