"How can The Replacements be the best band of the 80s when I've never even heard of them?" - Jon Bon Jovi, Musician Magazine (10/89)
The Replacements Twin/Tone catalog gets the deluxe Rhino reissue treatment today. Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash, Stink, Hootenanny and Let It Be were a big part of my misspent youth in the 1980s. Now thanks to Rhino I can enjoy them remastered and with bonus tracks during my misspent middle age.
I can still can still recall straining to hear the mighty Replacements' glorious noise outside a club in Washington D.C. after having my obviously doctored ID rejected by the club's bouncer. It was my 17th birthday, but I doubt I looked a day over 15.
"How young are you? How old am I?"
I can vividly remember the nervous feeling building in the pit of my stomach as the bouncer took what seemed like an eternity to study my driver's license. I had strategically placed a little daub of paint over the "9" in 1969 in order to make it look like a "7." After a long look at the ID the bouncer eyed me skeptically and said "Happy Birthday. How old are you today?" I was so flustered I didn't know what the answer was supposed to be. My throat was dry and my head was spinning. After a few seconds I think managed to say "umm." He told me to hit the bricks.
"19." Damn, the answer should have been 19. 19 would have been old enough to drink in the District of Columbia in 1986. More importantly, 19 would have been old enough to see The Replacements on July 30, 1986. If I had managed to keep my wits about me enough to say "19" I just might have gotten in.
"How smart are you? How dumb am I?"
I didn't know it at the time, but I missed my only chance to see The Replacements with original guitarist Bob Stinson that night. Think about that. I missed out on seeing The Replacements with Bob Stinson because I was too stupid to add 17 + 2. I suppose--given the band's occasional willful stupidity--that there is something appropriate about that. But that was small comfort to me on my 17th birthday.
The worst part of having my ID rejected was that it also kept my buddy Peter (whose doctored ID passed muster) out of the show. I carry that guilt with me to this day. A lesser friend would have probably just headed into the club anyway, but Peter stuck with me. (Then again, maybe he just needed a ride home, I can't remember who drove). It is one of my greatest regrets that I never saw the original Replacements line-up in their loud and sloppy prime. As greatest regrets go that's probably not such a bad one to have, but over twenty years later my ears still burn a bit when I remember getting turned away from that club. Mark Richardson at Pitchfork does a good job of reviewing the reissues. It's good to see someone who is (I assume) younger than me conclude that these albums have much more going for them than Gen X nostalgia. I generally don't like assigning number values to album reviews, but his ratings strike me as fair. It's important to keep in mind however that the albums' flaws are an intrinsic part their "lovable loser" appeal. "Tommy Gets His Tonsils Out" and "Gary's Got A Boner" may not be Cole Porter, but Let It Be wouldn't be as great without them.