14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
The epitome of Alternative before Alternative was Pop,
This review is from: Let It Be (Audio CD)In 1984, I went to a small but superb record shop on State Street in Madison, Wisconsin, looking for some new records. I came away with three, arguably the best three-disc haul in my life. The three were ZEN ARCADE by Husker Du, WILL THE WOLF SURVIVE? by Los Lobos, and LET IT BE by The Replacements. Three stunning records, all from 1984, one of the single greatest years for music that I can remember.
I have been stunned over and over at how many serious music fans in their early twenties have never heard of the Mats. In my lifetime, I have never witnessed a major group fall from public awareness as quickly as did the Replacements when they broke up in Chicago on the Fourth of July, 1991 in Grant Park at a free WXRT show. If I remember correctly, after playing for about a half hour, members of the band started snapping at each other, and eventually Westerberg threw up his hands and stalked off the stage. And the Replacements were history. I had seen them the previous February at the Avalon, at a combined show for several of the local universities, including the University of Chicago, where I was in grad school at the time. The old saying about the Replacements, that they were both the world's worst and the world's best rock band, depending on which night you saw them, was brutally true that night: if there was a better rock band in the world than the Replacements were that night, I would love to hear them. I talked to a rock reviewer later who said he had heard the Replacements nearly 20 times, and had never seen them better.
Yet, as good as the Replacements were, so many people have forgotten them. I recently wanted to get TIM, and went to one of Chicago's largest record stores, and asked a clerk who I know is pretty knowledgeable about contemporary music if they could get it quickly, he replied that he wasn't familiar with the band. Looking at the online database, he saw Paul Westerberg's name and said, "Oh, did Paul Westerberg play with the Replacements?"
Nirvana made Alternative pop, but if I were asked to select one album as the definitive alternative album, this would be it. The music was still fresh, snotty, brash, and brash. The sounds are bold, reek of attitude, and nonetheless manage to be remarkably accessible. There are almost gimmicky songs like "Answering Machine" and "Androgyny," and youth anthems like "I Will Dare" and, my favorite song on the album, "Unsatisfied." This is simply a great album, and one that everyone who loves rock needs to own. And it should be absolutely mandatory to anyone who likes Paul Westerberg but didn't know he was in the Replacements. Friends, this--and not his post-Mat output--is his real achievement.