Friday, July 24, 2020

Replacements 10: For Sale

In the decades following the formal dissolution of the Replacements, interest in the band—and their legend—only increased. Meanwhile Paul Westerberg emerged from suburban fatherhood with the occasional lo-fi solo album, and Tommy Stinson paid the rent by regular touring as the bassist in Guns N’ Roses. After the two got back together to record a benefit EP for ailing guitarist Slim Dunlap, they managed to get organized for a few live shows, then a nationwide tour, which ended abruptly and scattered any plans of future recording.
That had only whet fans’ appetites further, so it was a perfect excuse for any label with anything worth selling to cash in. Astonishingly, the Sire vaults didn’t just have a well-recorded show of the original band; the ‘Mats actually rose to the occasion. They would notoriously sabotage any chance to get ahead, particularly if they knew they were captured for any kind of posterity, but throughout For Sale: Live At Maxwell’s 1986, everything clicked.
The setlist is stellar, culling tunes from every one of their albums to date, even the Stink EP. “Can’t Hardly Wait” appears, still in lyrical progress, but the band’s arrangement is bulletproof. Even “solo” songs like “Answering Machine” and “If Only You Were Lonely” get an electric boost. It wouldn’t be a ‘Mats gig without wacky covers, and “Fox On The Run” is started and abandoned early. They do much better with “Black Diamond”, of course, as well as “Hitchin’ A Ride”, “Nowhere Man”, and “Baby Strange” by T. Rex via Big Star. (We almost feel bad for the poor bastard who keeps screaming for “September Gurls” to no avail; at least he had the recent Bangles cover for solace.)
From time to time Paul gets stuck, either from forgetting words or changing them and losing his place. For the most part they keep charging ahead, particularly Bob Stinson in all his glory, firing on all cylinders and seeming autopilot. Tommy gamely yells “MURDER!” during songs and lulls, and Chris Mars proves to be more than just a timekeeper. For Sale is truly an unexpected treat, and an essential part of the Replacements legacy.

The Replacements For Sale: Live At Maxwell’s 1986 (2017)—4

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