Punk Retrospective

Sorry Ma…it’s the Replacements…

I'm not sure if I heard "Johnny's Gonna Die" or "Gary's Got a Boner" first. Yeah, I got into the Sex Pistols in '78 and Blondie not too long after, but then I went into high school and northern Montana didn't really offer up any more punk rock. '81 passed without a hint of the Replacements reaching my ears. Sure, there was a brief moment in '83-'84 when some kids from California played some Black Flag for me, but it wasn't until '85 that I met my punk rock guru...finally destroying any possibility I would be a normal Republican guy.

This fella was a strange looking character, my guru. He had near white hair, which was shoulder length, I suppose they'd say, but...it was shoulder length all the way around and he somehow hair-sprayed it into a helmet-like piece every day. I'd heard about him on campus, helmet head did this, helmet head did that...what the fuck is his problem...what's with those mirrored glasses...blah, blah, blah. KGLT was his realm...he had a radio show from midnight to 6 AM at the college station, but he also worked at Stromboli's Pizza, which is where I asked him about his freakin' hair.

Turned out he was a punk rocker. I was a metal head at that point, but "Subterranean Jungle" changed that forever. Sure, I had brief relapses when "Reign in Blood" and "South of Heaven" came out, but my life has been predominately influenced by punk rock, punk thought and punk culture since I met that weirdo. Thank god! When I hear the shit my friends from home say, believe and listen to, knowing that could be me, I thank the non-existent god(s) for Hyyppa...and every record he owned or played on KGLT. He was, and still is, one of the most intelligent, friendly and free-thinking people I've ever met in my life...cheers to Helmethead!

So, in some of these old tapes...I used to record those radio shows...I'm finding really old Replacements stuff, and it's got a completely different vibe than most of the other punk of the time. I have a really hard time understanding what it is, but there's an underlying hopefulness, a touch more reality and a spirit of fun that just rises through the Replacements songs. Even the real melancholy stuff doesn't sound hopeless. This is a rockn'roll band turned hardcore by influences of the time...these are kids who aren't feeling the despair of the working class under Reagan and Thatcher. Sure, they've seen drug use and violence, but those are peripheral to their true experience...and I'm glad. Sometimes I prefer feeling hopeful.

So, "Sorry Ma, I Forgot to Take Out the Trash" opens with "Takin' a Ride" and just rips from there. The band was amazingly tight, considering the fact that Tommy Stinson was all of 13 when they formed. The rest of the band were 19-20 years old, but I always hope younger readers will see there is not some magical age where you're suddenly qualified to play. Tommy is no better or worse than the rest of the band...he's just a great bass player who happened to be 13 at the time.

Hyyppa had this in his pre-burglary collection...not sure if it disappeared then, but I recorded this album to cassette and played it until there were large spaces on that 1/8" tape that had no magnetic shit left on them...absolutely one of the greatest albums of the 20th century...and one of the greatest bands to play rock music. Their "maturation", as many called it back then, consisted mainly of Paul Westerbergs penchant for slow, bleeding hearted ballads that still carried a current of rebellion under their sorrowful surface. They never "made it" in the sense that Green Day and Nirvana did, but they got some pretty heavy rotation with their "Bastards of Young" video. Somehow their MTV success validated this music I was bringing home to my siblings and their friends. But, even as the Replacements challenged conventions and pushed into unexplored territory, they were creating a breeding ground which would soon be inhabited by a whole new form of music....the bane of my existence...alternative rock. It really sucks that that's how I'll remember the influence of these groundbreaking souls, but I don't blame them, I'll continue to blame those now forgotten, sell-out Alt.Rock artists of the mid '90's.

There's a pretty cool Replacements website out there at colormeimpressed.com and an unchecked MySpace page for your limited listening pleasure.

[play-button:http://dl.dropbox.com/u/16850984/Replacements%20-%20Sorry%20Ma/03%20Customer%20The%20Replacements.mp3] Replacements - Customer Link source

[play-button:http://dl.dropbox.com/u/16850984/Replacements%20-%20Sorry%20Ma/11%20Shiftless%20When%20Idle%20The%20Replacements.mp3] Replacements - Shiftless When Idle Link source

[play-button:http://dl.dropbox.com/u/16850984/Replacements%20-%20Sorry%20Ma/10%20Johnnys%20Gonna%20Die%20The%20Replacements.mp3] Replacements - Johnnys Gonna Die Link source

Posted by ElDorkoPunkRetro

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  1. Your story just drew me and me want to buy all their stuff. Thank you for sharing this wonderful post.

    • Even with all their later failures and eventual breakup, I still love most of the Replacements output as a band…and I certainly miss that freaky old punk rockin’ Hyyppa…we share the same birthday, but he’ll always be two years older…

  2. “Sorry Ma, I Forgot to Take Out the Trash” is still one of the best. And you are right in the fact that the Mat’s were partially responsible for the whole “alternative” MTV 120 minutes stuff, but they were still punk at heart, they just evolved much quicker than there peers. I still find it amazing how a band could morph so quickly from the first LP to “Tim”.
    And hey, as much as I too detest most “college radio alternative rock” without “120 minutes” some kinda decent bands (Butthole Surfers etc.) might never have had the careers they did. Does MTV play music videos any more? I havent’ watched it since 1996 I think…

    • Yeah, I may have engaged in a little hyperbole there. I like the Pixies, Dinosaur Jr., Sonic Youth, Pavement, Superchunk and Butthole Surfers…but they’re not exactly the same as the friggin’ Stone Temple Pilots or Smashing Pumpkins (who are the object of my scorn).

      120 minutes was ok, sometimes. I remember seeing New Model Army and Joy Division on there, but for the most part it was crap. I don’t think MTV has anything to do with music anymore, but I don’t watch it, so I wouldn’t know.

      My understanding is that the whole maturation thing was driven by Westerberg and the rest of the band fought against it. They wanted to continue in a more punk vein, while he wanted to experiment in song craft. I think it was a great tension…worked out well for a few really good albums.

  3. Hey, I liked some STP…..some….

  4. Great post. Once drove 11 hours over night in a broken down van to get to Chicago to see them on the Pleased To Meet Me tour around ’87. Two hour show, amazing crowd. Saw them a few times after that and it was hit and miss but always entertaining. Westerberg is one of the generational song writers, meaning he speaks to and for a generation. I could totally relate to Bastards of Young, but also to Here Comes a Regular or Skyway. I don’t think they made a bad record. I had my Hyyppa too, a punk named Len Clayton, we worked in a t-shirt screening studio when I was 18 or so, I was a metal head and he played me Bad Brains, Dead Kennedys, Misfits, GBH etc. and I lost my mind. I wonder where he is now? I should thank him.

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