Friday, April 25, 2008

Top Ten Reasons Why I Love The Rhino Reissue Of
The Replacements' Let It Be

10. You can actually hear the snapping fingers on "We're Coming Out", and not simply vague percussive slaps that could be either cowbells or postalveolar clicks in Zulu.

9. Hey, wait a minute, you mean the Replacements actually have a rhythm section, not just a dull drone in the back of the tinny mix? Wow, Tommy Stinson's actually good.

8. "Androgynous" was supposed to sound like a cavernous nightclub? I could never tell because the previous CD sounded like it was mixed in an airport hanger.

7. There's absolutely nothing ironic in their cover of KISS' "Black Diamond", and it points to the fact that the 'Mats could very well have been arena rock legends if they had chosen to do so. But then again, they had Bob Stinson playing lead guitar like a crush fetishist loose in a pet store, so that's debatable.

6. Is Let It Be the last great 12" release? Look at the side "A" and side "B". I'm hardly a vinyl fetishist - I don't even own a turntable anymore - but even I think it's something of a shame that you don't have to turn the record (or cassette tape!) over between "Black Diamond" and "Unsatisfied".

5. "Seen Your Video" - best music industry kiss-off ever? And right before they signed on the dotted line with Warner Brothers, no less.

4. Every genius album has a real head-scratcher on it that you don't really like but you learn to love anyway - Life's Rich Pageant has "Underneath the Bunker", The Queen Is Dead has "Vicar in a Tutu", and Let It Be has "Gary's Got A Boner". I guess the fact that these bands were still willing to put a song on their album just because it was fuckin' stupid and they got a kick out of playing it says something, because once groups get big heads they lose their sense of humor entirely. The 'Mats never got big, so their sense of humor stayed sharp through until the end.

3. Exile on Main Street my ass - Liz Phair owes Paul Westerberg royalties for the way that half the songs on Exile on Guyville are just "Answering Machine" with different words and worse guitar playing.

2. I've always said that Tim was my favorite 'Mats album - I know, I know - but listening to this new disc raises the distinct possibility that I undervalued Let It Be simply because every CD copy I've ever had of the album has sounded like shit. They say remastered editions of the WB era albums are coming soon - so we shall soon be able to judge for ourselves.

1. Bonus tracks, you say? You've been caught in that boondoggle before? Well, I can live without the "20th Century Boy" cover - just can't warm to Marc Bolan - but there's no good reason why "Perfectly Lethal" couldn't have made the album itself, and their cover of The Grass Roots' "Temptation Eyes", while definitely a little ragged, has the same swagger as their cover of "Black Diamond". (I can see, with that in mind, why it didn't make the album itself.) But Westerberg's solo home demo of "Answering Machine" - that's the real gold. If they had put the demo version on the album, they could have kick-started lo-fi half a decade early, and essentially mooted the entire Sebadoh discography.

Judge for yourself.

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