Having been a longtime fan of similar recluse Paul Westerberg , the whole experience read like a rude awakening. About a quarter of the way through, I started picturing the shaggy-haired Westerberg slouching around from page to page. The bulk of the content, though, consisted of essays analyzing lyrics or discussing influences or conjecturing, apparently inexhaustibly, about the silence. Like scratching the pockets for dollars in church, I found myself in need of a selfish purge post- Juliet, Naked. A weight of guilt reigned over me for my obsession with The Replacements and, more specifically, Westerberg. How many nights did I waste in college searching through Mats message boards?
Main page. They don't have the punk and art rock sensibilities of, say, the Minutemen or Sonic Youth ; they don't have the sweet pop influences of the dB's ; they don't have a distinct guitar or vocal sound like REM ; and they don't use up-to-date electronic gadgets or try to put across political lyrics like U2 , XTC or Midnight Oil. Basically, they're just loose, loud, and doggedly enthusiastic, at their best a step or two up from a bar band. They never sold a lot of records during their decade-long run, and their self-destructive drunkenness, pedestrian instrumental skills, and lack of musical or lyrical innovation probably had a lot to do with it. But they have a huge reputation with rock critics anyway, and I can hear why: they were utterly sincere, and they worked out a sure-fire rock 'n' roll formula that combined Chuck Berry-ish up-tempo numbers with gentle, slightly countrified ballads. You could even make a case that their variation on power-pop was the basis for much of American alt rock in the early 90s - Buffalo Tom, Material Issue , the Posies , and so on.
I want the world to know that I saw "The Replacements. Every pop-song montage, every outlandishly exaggerated football action sequence, every close-up of a fat guy's naked stomach and a cheerleader's tightly packaged tits, every lovingly rendered vomit take. I even laughed out loud during the jailhouse dance number set to "I Will Survive," which hit the level of a moderately funny TV commercial. I won't apologize; I was a broken man.
It was the harnessed--well, the loosely harnessed--Replacements who predominated this time out, making for a show that was powerful and bracing, despite its chaotic stretches. One might wish that the Replacements could translate to the stage the more honed and disciplined version of themselves that has come across in the unbroken string of fine records they have released in the last 5 years. But maybe that sort of maturity would diminish the blast of passion that came through much of the time at Crawford Hall a fancily named basketball gym with built-in stage.