At the same time that Prince and his proteges were taking the world by storm from their home base of Minneapolis, a group of drunken louts from the same city were bringing bar band sounds to alternative music. The Replacements were one of the best bands of the decade and are as influential as any band that came out of the decade. From the Goo Goo Dolls to the Hold Steady, too many bands to list here were strongly influenced by the Mats.
The first 3 records the band released were sloppy punk albums that despite their charm, could have been done by other bands. It was their 4th record, Let It Be, that put them on the map as band leader Paul Westerberg took more control of the band. It’s hard to find any stuff on youtube from Let It Be, as they did no videos from the songs, so I have posted a great cover of Androgynous by Crash Test Dummies.
While Let It Be was voted the 15th best record of the decade by Rolling Stone, my favorite Mats album is Tim. It is the sound of what I think of college radio being in 1986. Bastards of the Young demonstrates what they thought of music videos, where Kiss Me on the Bus is a classic 80’s alternative song.
Pleased to Meet Me continued the Mats’ high-quality streak, as Alex Chilton and Can’t Hardly Wait demonstrate.
Don’t Tell a Soul was the band’s attempt at a bigger audience, but it was a little ahead of its time. I would argue that if would have been released a decade later and had a face like Johnny Reznik lip synching the words in the video, the record would have went number 1. Hell, even 5 years later Soul Asylum was doing much the same thing to huge success. Here is Achin’ to Be and
Their final record, All Shook Down, came out in 1990, but I will cover it because it puts a nice wrap of their career. Much like the Pixies, the Mats were just a couple years ahead of their time, as when Nirvana hit big, radio began to embrace bands like them. All Shook Down is not a true Mats’ record, as Westerberg had different studio musicians helping him, but it is an underrated gem, as his song-writing is really consistent on it. Merry Go Round was the first single and one I like a lot, Sadly Beautiful.