Achin' To Be
It's always bugged me. And now I have just the blog to spew about it in.
Every time I see some young rock critic dude bashing on the Replacements as ancient and irrelevant history, as being the perfect band for old white American rock critics, it gets me all defensive—being the forever young white dude rock critic that I am. The release of Don't You Know Who I Think I Was? (a Mat–ian title if there ever was), the new Mats best–of seems to have brought all the Mats morons out of the woodwork yet again.
In short, for me, in my opinion (attn: legal dept.), the Replacements were and are one of the most seminal rock bands of all. Right up there with the Stones. For context's sake, I place the Beatles in their own universe: somewhere beyond mere art and artistry, but that’s a blog for another time. Willingly lodged somewhere between being a loud-mouthed, drunk and stupid rock band and a sensitive pop band, the Mats were also snotty but loveable, brilliant but erratic, good looking but a total mess. These contradictions, backed when they wanted to bring it, by massive instrumental and emotional firepower, made them one of the best live acts I've ever witnessed and I've witnessed a few.
(As an old white rock critic by cracky) I remember one particular live show, where they sauntered out, drunk and disorderly, in stove pipe pants and proceeded to rip into whatever whim struck them: eight bars of the theme to the Flintstones followed by eight bars of "Jingle Bells" followed by a hilariously mangled "Ride of the Valkyries" followed by… you get the picture. Heckled into finally doing one of their songs, they all blinked, swallowed hard and in unison and on key, stepped out into a very together and eventually blistering rendition of "Bastards of Young."
The records often get the, "they were a live band" rap, which is a criticism meaning that records never quite captured their essence. In some ways that’s definitely true. In another way though, the records were a whole different thing from the live shows. A separate medium where they also excelled with flair.
My only complaint with the new best–of is that it's too short. That and I wish there were more cuts from the record I love the most, chiefly Pleased To Meet Me. But then that's quibbling.
The two new cuts on the record are nothing to squeal about; nyther direly compelling nor putridly embarrassing.
What the world really needs now is a big 'ol, rarities–stuffed Mats boxed set.