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Music / The Replacements

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I'll try to find you left of the dial... note 
"Oh, meet me anyplace or anywhere or anytime
Now I don't care, meet me tonight
If you will dare, I might dare."
— "I Will Dare"

Defining Alternative Rock band before it was cool. The definitive lineup included Paul Westerberg (rhythm guitar, vocals), Tommy Stinson (bass), Bob Stinson (lead guitar) and Chris Mars (drums). Bob Stinson was replaced by Slim Dunlap in 1987 and Chris Mars by Steve Foley in 1990. Since the breakup of the band in 1991 Westerberg has released numerous solo records, and Tommy Stinson has played in a number of bands, most notably with Guns N' Roses.

Starting out as a loud fast Hardcore Punk band, they transitioned into a melodic alternative rock band, driven by the heart on the sleeve, earnest songwriting of Paul Westerberg. In terms of general popularity the Mats barely register compared to the likes of their contemporaries R.E.M. or their arguable successors Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden. But don't feel too sorry for them though, much of their unpopularity can be attributed to their drunken stage antics, outright disdain for making music videos, and a penchant for biting the hand that feeds.

The band (well, Westerberg, Tommy Stinson and two touring members) reunited in 2012 and played several shows for the next two years, until 2015, when Westerberg announced that, once again and for the last time, the Replacements were breaking up.


  • 1981: Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash
  • 1982: Stink: "Kids Don't Follow" Plus Seven
  • 1983: Hootenanny
  • 1984: Let It Be
  • 1985: Tim
  • 1987: Pleased to Meet Me
  • 1989: Don't Tell a Soul
  • 1990: All Shook Down
  • 2013: Songs For Slim (EP)

"Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Tropes":

  • The Alcoholic: All the original members, particularly Bob Stinson, who was fired for being too much of a drunk. It's said that part of their appeal was arriving to a show and not knowing how functional the band would be. Occasionally they'd just randomly decide to do entire sets of covers too. This actually got them banned from Saturday Night Live, where they got drunk before both of their performances, (though Paul Westerberg did return to the show as a solo artist).
    • The band's alcoholism is occasionally alluded to in Westerberg's lyrics, such as "If Only You Were Lonely" and "Here Comes a Regular".
  • Alternative Rock
  • Answer Song: "Kids Don't Follow" was written as a response to U2's "I Will Follow" after Westerberg saw U2 perform in Minneapolis in April 1981.
  • Band of Relatives: The original lineup featured brothers Bob and Tommy Stinson, on lead guitar and bass, respectively. When Tommy was 11, Bob bought him a bass guitar and played music with him in order to keep him off the streets.
  • Bawdy Song: "Gary's Got a Boner", about a guy named Gary getting an erection.
  • Big Rock Ending: Their cover of "Rock Around the Clock" by Bill Haley & His Comets (from the expanded reissue of Stink) ends with several, obscenely long Big Rock Endings.
  • Big "SHUT UP!": "Shutup"
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: The back cover of Let It Be is a closeup of what looks to be a garage door covered with various in-jokey graffiti, including "Twin Tone eats slotty crap" note  - Twin/Tone was the record label they were signed to at the time. Humorously, on some editions of the album, the Twin/Tone logo appears directly beneath that message.
    • The rarity "Lookin' For Ya" (which they would re-work into "Love Lines") ends with Paul Westerberg ad-libbing "Keep your riches, give me a Budweiser!" This is because it was originally recorded for Trackin' Up The North, a compilation put together as part of a "Rags To Riches" battle of the bands co-sponsored by Miller High Life.
  • Careful with That Axe / Scare Chord: The beginning of "Anywhere's Better Than Here" if you aren't expecting it.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: "Fuck School"
  • College Radio: The subject of "Left of the Dial".
  • Cover Version: "Black Diamond", originally by KISS, appears on Let It Be.
    • "Mr. Whirly" from Hootenanny interpolates both "The Twist" by Chubby Checker, the introduction from "Strawberry Fields Forever", and the music from "Oh! Darling" by The Beatles; the original pressing credits the song as "mostly stolen".
    • The band were also known for throwing in sloppy, half-remembered covers during their live shows - the bootleg turned semi-official Live Album The Shit Hits the Fans consists almost entirely of such things.
  • Dance Sensation: "Mr. Whirly" (which interpolates "The Twist" by Chubby Checker).
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Bob Stinson had a very traumatic childhood, which goes a long way in explaining his behavior in adulthood.
  • Downer Ending: "The Ledge".
    • The band's career in general was this for a long time, until their 2012-15 resurrection, which at least gave them a real send-off.
  • Dreadful Musician: All of their albums have ropey parts, but Hootenanny really takes the cake.
    • Deliberately invoked in the song "Hootenanny". When the band recorded the song, they swapped instruments in an attempt to mess with co-producer Paul Stark while he wasn't paying attention. The result sounds like a third-rate blues-rock bar band, complete with missed notes and an unsteady tempo.
  • Driven to Suicide: The main character of "The Ledge". It's never explicitly stated why he wants to kill himself, but the song implies he feels ignored by the world.
    • The demo version of "Can't Hardly Wait" had alternate lyrics that made it much clearer that the song was about suicide. It's possible they changed the lyrics because it was going to be on the same album as "The Ledge" and two songs about the topic on the same album could have been pushing it.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: "Here Comes a Regular"
  • Drugs Are Bad: "Dope Smoking Moron"
  • Drunken Song: "Beer For Breakfast"
  • Emo Teen: "Sixteen Blue", likely semi-autobiographical.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Bobby Stinson was let go from the band partly as a result of his excessive drinking. YMMV on how impressive/shocking that is.
  • Friendly Rivalry: With fellow Twin Cities punks Hüsker Dü.
  • Gayngst: Possibly the protagonist of "Sixteen Blue". He wonders if he is gay, because he shows no interest in girls and doesn't understand sexuality, and he lies to his dad about going on a date.
  • Hardcore Punk: Most noticeably on the first two albums, occasionally thereafter.
  • Harsh Vocals: Most of the rocky tracks.
  • "I Am" Song: "I'm in Trouble"
  • I Am the Band: Increasingly Westerberg, much to Tommy Stinson's well publicized chagrin, to the extent that All Shook Down was originally meant to be released as a solo record before his managers convinced him to release it as a Replacements album.
  • "I Want" Song: "Here Comes a Regular" and "Unsatisfied".
  • In Name Only: All Shook Down. Westerberg was the only common denominator throughout the album, as the tracks featured maybe one or two other band members at random ("Attitude" is the only track with all four members playing together), and a whole slew of guest musicians and singers.
  • Indecipherable Lyrics: Applicable to a lot of the rockier tracks.
  • Jangle Pop: One of the genre's more Punk-influenced and aggressive bands, but they still count. They started to play songs in this style on Hootenanny. "I Will Dare", incidentally, is perhaps the band's most "jangly" sounding track- it even features Peter Buck as a guest guitarist!
  • Lampshade Wearing: From "Swinging Party":
    "Bring your own lampshade, somewhere there's a party"
  • Leave the Camera Running: The videos for "Bastards of Young", "Left of the Dial" and "Hold My Life" are all static shots of the same stereo system playing the Tim LP. Each is slightly different from the other. note 
  • Limited Lyrics Song: "Seen Your Video", which is mostly instrumental for 2/3rds of the song and only consists of the following text:
    Seen your video, the phony rock 'n' roll
    We don't wanna know, we've seen your video
    Your phony rock 'n' roll
    We don't wanna know
  • Live Album: The Shit Hits The Fans, perhaps one of the most representative live albums ever - it consists of 20 covers and only 5 'Mats songs recorded to regular cassette tape, and by the end the band are so drunk they can barely play.
    • For Sale: Live At Maxwell's 1986, released in 2017, represents what the band sounded like while sober, and was originally commissioned by Sire Records president Seymour Stein in an attempt to market the band.
  • Longest Song Goes Last: Tim closes with "Here Comes a Regular", which is 4 minutes and 46 seconds long.
  • Ludd Was Right: Westerberg has a thing against the Answering Machine.
    • In the liner notes for the CD of All Shook Down: "The musicians who played on this recorded thing include"
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Dick and Jane from "Androgynous".
  • Meaningful Echo: "Here Comes A Regular" has "ain't much to rake anyway in the fall".
  • Miniscule Rocking: They did start as a hardcore punk band. Specifically, Sorry, Ma packs 18 songs into 36:47.
  • Mood Whiplash: They go from earnest, genuinely touching songs like "I Will Dare" or "Sixteen Blue" to blatantly crass ones like "Tommy Gets His Tonsils Out" and "Gary's Got A Boner" seemingly at random. "We're Coming Out" does it in a single song: it starts out as one of their Hardcore Punk songs, slows down for a jazzy, piano-based section, then starts speeding back up again and quickly ends in chaos.
  • New Sound Album: Hootenanny, which introduced the Country Music and Folk Music influences and more varied and introspective songwriting that characterized their later records. Pleased To Meet Me and Don't Tell A Soul marked a slight shift in sound towards more "polished", characteristically 80s-sounding production (it's the reverb!) and more obvious Power Pop influences. And finally, All Shook Down was in a more low-key, even more Folk-and-Country-influenced Singer/Songwriter sound heavily evocative of R.E.M. (partly due to it being produced by R.E.M. collaborator Scott Litt), basically being a Paul Westerberg solo album in all but name.
  • Non Sequitur: "Asking Me Lies" is made up of these.
  • The Not-Remix: 2019 release Dead Man's Pop is more of a de-mix - one of the disks is their sixth album, Don't Tell A Soul, restored to its original mix by its original producer, Matt Wallace, to remove the radio-friendly pop sheen added to it by label producer Chris Lord-Alge.
  • One-Word Title: Tim, Stink, "Unsatisfied", "Customer", "Willpower", "Skyway", etc...
  • Performance Video: "I'll Be You" and "Merry-Go-Round".
  • Pun-Based Title: All Shook Down is a pun on "All Shook Up" by Elvis Presley.
  • Raging Stiffie: "Gary's Got a Boner"
  • Record Needle Scratch: The applause at the end of "I Bought A Headache" ends with a record scratch, transitioning abruptly into the next song on the album, "Rattlesnake".
  • Rhyming with Itself: "Waitress in the Sky":
    And the sign says "Thank you very much for not smoking"
    My own sign says, "I'm sorry, I'm smoking"
  • Rockumentary: Color Me Obsessed
  • Self-Deprecation: Most evident in the EP titles Stink note  and Don't Buy Or Sell, It's Crap (which was a promo release sent to radio stations).
    • Even their name was picked to make them sound second-rate - the intended implication is that they'd only be added to a concert lineup if a more popular band backed out and it was the best the promoters could do on short notice.
  • Sexy Stewardess: Skewered in "Waitress in the Sky".
  • Shout-Out:
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Some variation of this occurs in the video for "The Ledge", about a man Driven to Suicide. The video consisted of a bunch of generic shots of people eating chips and sitting on couches. About halfway through there's an inspirational scene in which Westerberg stares at the camera for a few seconds and then picks his ear using his middle finger.
  • Spurned into Suicide: "The Ledge" hints at this by having a search for "a girl that I knew once years ago" and changing the chorus to reflect that "she can't ignore" the protagonist "for the first time in [his] life."
  • Studio Chatter: Heard at the beginning of "Customer", "I Hate Music", and "Hangin' Downtown" from Sorry Ma.
  • Take That!: "Seen Your Video", a swipe at hair metal bands of the era. (However, they've been known to cover "Merry Go Round" by Mötley Crüe live, so it's clear they don't hate all of them.)
  • Talent Show: "Talent Show"
  • Talking Down the Suicidal: "The Ledge" implies this is the initial plan by having the police desperately try to call a "girl that I knew once years ago" to resolve the situation. It's ultimately subverted, however, when a police officer reaches for the suicidal man, and he jumps anyway.
  • This Loser Is You: The whole band, and a significant part of their appeal.
  • Title-Only Chorus: "Gary's Got a Boner", subverted after the first chorus with "Gary's Got A Soft On".
  • Twin Cities:
    • "I Bought A Headache" mentions the St. Paul Civic Center.
    • The Minneapolis police break up the party at the start of "Kids Don't Follow" (which was taken from an actual house party the Replacements played at in 1982).
    • "Run It" mentions Lyndale, which is a neighborhood in Minneapolis, and Garfield, which is an avenue in Minneapolis.
    • "Buck Hill" is named for a ski hill in Burnsville, a suburb south of Minneapolis.