Bash & Pop on Vinyl

"Mastered from the original tapes to 180gm vinyl for the ultimate audiophile dorkout."

Now, now, Tommy Stinson, your website implies that "ultimate audiophile dorkout" is somehow a weird thing. Well, maybe it is but to most Stereophile-ers, that's just fancy talk for a real good time.

Not that long ago, the dominant equation when it came to physical media was focused on which recordings had not made the jump from LP to CD. Now, in a still mind-boggling turn of events, the question has become what about the digital recordings, made mostly in the last decade of the last century, that are only available on CD or as MP3s and that may never be transferred to LP. Which begs the other question: can good-sounding LPs be made from less than high-resolution digital sources?

It's a question that Tommy Stinson and his recently reformed band from that era, Bash & Pop, are implicitly asking with the new, first ever LP release of their sparkling 1992 debut, Friday Night is Killing Me ($30, available at www. Stinson, who was literally a child, 11 years old, when his first band The Replacements coalesced in 1978, went on after the `Mats 1991 farewell show in Grant Park in Chicago, to form Bash & Pop and release Friday Night is Killing Me.

Recorded mostly in California as opposed to the `Mats home base of Minneapolis, Friday Nightfeatured the Replacements last drummer, the late Steve Foley, and guest musicians like Greg Leisz and Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench from the Heartbreakers. For the many `Mats fans, who were just then mourning the band's demise, Friday Night felt like the band's swan song, a great lost Replacements record. In tunes like "Fast & Hard" and "Never Aim to Please," Stinson successfully deployed the band's old reckless swagger one last time. The snappy "Loose Ends" and the by-any-other-name power ballad title track are still spectacular. Echoes of Paul Westerberg's songwriting style are unmistakable throughout.

Unfortunately, Stinson, who went on to form the band Perfect before becoming the bass player in 1998 for the reconstituted Guns N' Roses, was never able to recapture the magic of Friday Night. Taking the statement above at face value—that there were in fact tapes of these sessions to cut an LP from—I have to say this first-ever pressing of the LP is not as bright nor as loud as the CD, and has a richer bass response. The pressing quality is good though not peerless. Oddly, several people who dorked out in my listening room remarked, completely separate from each other, that the influence of the Faces on Stinson and Bash & Pop was much more apparent on the LP than it is on the CD. Upon further listening, the guitars do seem to have a sharper, Ron Wood-like edge on the LP.

This music, the final utterances of a great band dissolving, has completely stood the test of time. Stinson has recently reformed Bash & Pop, recorded and released a new record Anything Could Happen and is out on the road. While not the equal of Friday Night, the new album has its moments though the glittery post-`Mats fairy dust that made Friday Night such a success is long gone.

It's easy to forget these days that there were once bands—punk, indie or just rock—who wrote great songs, played energetic shows and spoke from the heart. Thanks for the memories Tommy.

tparker14's picture

Perhaps this album was recorded to tape, but the master was cut from a digital file (like Tom Petty's "Wildflowers", which had its original vinyl release cut from digital, but the recent reissue was mastered from the analog tapes)? It's good to see this out on vinyl, too, though.