Tuesday, September 23, 2008
The Rhino Replacements Reissues - Installment #4: Don't Tell A Soul
Apologies for the delay in getting this posted. It's always feast or famine with the rock in this burgh and we've been on quite the upswing of late. This week looks to be continuing the trend, with the Aldenbarton show at Cake Shop and the return of The Unlovables, but in the meantime it's time to lend some closure to the Mats saga and the Rhino reissue of All Shook Down.
I bought this on cassette from the record co-op at SUNY the day it came out and pretty much hated it. Time has revealed that this was supposed to be Paul's solo record, but the label forced it's release as a Mats record. Nice move, assholes. Things were far from rosy in The Replacements camp at this point; in fact, the band performs as a unit on but one track on the entire record. It sounds like it. All Shook Down is a Westerberg solo record in everything but name. It's not without it's glimmers of greatness: the duet with Johnette Napolitano of Concrete Blonde is still pretty aces, as is Bent Out Of Shape, but most of the rest of the record is softer, melancholic fare. Sadly Beautiful is among Westerberg's best songs and has gotten even better with time, but at the time I can recall being less that thrilled about the whole proposition. The promotional Don't Buy Or Sell, It's Crap EP had some decent cast-off rave-ups as well as the only recorded Mats tune with Tommy on lead. That song was Satellite, and showed the promise that came to fruition with amazing lost classic that was the first Bash and Pop record.
Chris Mars left the band after the record was recorded, appearing in the video for When It Began (ironically enough) but bailing in short order to release two solo records and start a prosperous art career that has more than eclipsed his Mats tenure. The recently departed Steve Foley stepped into the breach for six or so months but the stench of death was beginning to seep into the air around Minneapolis' finest. The usual binge drinking and coke snorting had escalated to a more than toxic degree, as anyone who saw the last legs of the Tom Petty tour can attest. I saw them at The Palace in Albany and it was actually a pretty great set, with Paul in good spirits (no doubt, due in part to those sweet, sweet SUNY student activity dollars) and even taking time to slow dance with a young lady in the orchestra pit during Nightclub Jitters. He was less than friendly after the show, signing my ticket simply 'Paul' with his coat over his head, but it was a fine Mats memory to go out on. I saw footage of the Orange County Speedway show on YouTube recently and it was pretty heartbreaking. Luckily, I finally found their infamous SNL performance with Bob for the first time afterward and was able to cleanse my palate but those were obviously dark days for The Replacements.
In poking around, I have found that the youth of today finds All Shook Down to be the best Replacements record in their canon. This is truly a sign that the youth of today are lost, a misconception as mightily off-base as the equally absurd notions that Dear You is the best Jawbreaker record (!!!!!) and that Conor Oberst is anything but a whiny ponce. ASD has some decent moments, especially as compared to the cut-out bin perennial that is Westerberg's 13 Songs, but to me All Shook Down is sort of the sonic equivalent of the Bud Dwyer footage, especially with the haunting piano snippet of Paul singing 'Send In The Mats' that closes the reissue. Mr. Jesperson, that just wasn't fair.
R.I.P America's Finest Rock Band ever.
You can buy the reissue of All Shook Down from Rhino here.