Friday, May 20, 2011

FDF Volume 3 Issue 226 - The Replacements - Don't Tell a Soul

By: March

Album – Don't Tell A Soul
Artist – The Replacements
Key Players - Chris Mars – drums and percussion. Tommy Stinson – bass. Slim Dunlap – guitar. Paul Westerberg – guitar, vocals.
Produced By – Matt Wallace and The Replacements

Release Date - February 1989

What caused me to blow off the dust? - There is a new documentary out about the band, which has gotten me to think about them a little more. When you come upon a Replacements fan you will realize it right away. I am a casual fan of theirs, growing to appreciate over time.

Overview - Formed in 1979 the Minneapolis, Minnesota based band "The Replacements" may never have experienced significant commercial success they'd go on to influence 100's of bands. Known for their drunk and erratic live shows the foursome blended punk rock with a hint of hardcore punk that would grow with the band to a more mature sound. After some line up changes and a more focused on being less "punky" they were met with mixed reactions. New fans took note, but old fans were not thrilled with this change. After releasing seven studio albums the band called it quits in 1991 after a 4th of July concert in Chicago. They have left an unrivaled legacy.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) – The album begins with 'Talent Show”. Acoustic guitars and percussion instruments lay the foundation. Westerberg begins the vocals and after a full verse the band comes in. The guitars and drums are still kept in check, not fully taking over. There are hints of backing vocals and harmonies which are nice. The guitars a bit more big and in your face as “Back to Back” begins. The riffs are short and the vocals come in and Mars works the track up. Dunlap and Westerberg dual on guitars some and the song falls in to a 4/4 rock tune. Dunlap has a decent guitar solo at the right time and the band is quick to rejoin the overall feel, but he does get a second solo in the later part of the track, and then it fades out. “We'll Inherit The Earth” has a different intro with Stinson working the bass up before the guitar rings out and the vocals start. There are acoustic guitars once more and the band up to this point wastes little time getting to the vocals. After a few lines Mars hits down and the band takes off. They have a full and clean sound, with no one member really out shining the other. The band has a good moment of “clicking” as Mars, Stinson and Dunlap all swell at once, a real powerful moment. Mars clicks off “Achin to Be” and there is twang to the guitars. Sounds a little countryish actually. The acoustic guitars ring and Stinson has a nice tight bass line and the tambourine shakes and slide guitars are a nice touch. Westerberg has a nice pain to his voice that adds to the mood. “They're Blind” starts off very mellow. Again acoustic guitars are the norm and Mars keeps the drum in a “lounge” feel. Stinson sounds great on the bass giving great fills at the right time, but the focus leans on the acoustic guitars and Westerbergs hushed and laid back delivery. As pretty as it sounds this is the older and wiser Replacements and it is easy to see how fans from the early years were left scratching their heads. We get back to the rowdy rock feel as “Anywhere's Better than Here” opens. There is a yell and the band all comes in. The tempo is up and there is purpose with instruments. The band is in and out in less than three minutes and Mars must have been angry with his drums as they got a beating on this track. The band likes the slow fade ups as well and “Asking Me Lies” follows suit. What then comes out is a bubbly pop song??! Mars and Stinson play off one another and the guitars have real bright punchy sound to them. Westerberg doesn't push himself vocally so there is little strain and the bring tempo of the song is, dare I say, fun. If you were only a casual observer of the band you'd know “I'll Be You”. If found its way on to modern rock and college radio rotation. The guitars are punchy but it the bass of Stinson that will grab you. Chugging across the bottom of the track Westerberg has some nice call and response sing along moments in the chorus. This is “alternative rock” at its finest. The shortest track on the album “I Won't” is a rock-a-billy foot stomper. Stinson starts with the bass and a harmonica joins in. The vocals are gruff and impassioned, adding to the urgency. The track is a real barn burner. Keyboards are the lead off instrument on “Rock N' Roll Ghost”. A lone acoustic guitar joins in and the vocals are again hushed. The album concludes with “Darlin' One” a big, full sounding track from the start. The backing vocals add a great deal to the tune as the big guitar solo comes and is complimented by the strumming acoustic. Mars doesn't over do it on the drums, but they are big, stadium rock like sounding. The band are all credited with writing this song and they all took part for sure in performing. A solid album closer.

Where are they Know? Tommy Stinson went on to form "Bash & Pop" after the demise of the Mats. He'd play guitar and sing on that project. He would then pick the bass back up and form "Perfect". In 1998 he joined "Guns and Roses" as their bassist. He has worked with Soul Asylum and his own solo material. Chris Mars went on to join the band "Golden Smog" but his true passion is with painting. Slim Dunlap has released two solo records since the bands demise. Paul Westerberg continues to write and perform as a solo artist. He released a record in 2009

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) – I saw the Replacements one time. June 21, 1991 opening for Elvis Costello at Great Woods. I had heard about the band a lot and they were touring for this very record. I recall them being very tight, fast and loud. They took an audience request for the song “Satellite” which I've never been able to find. Is that even the right name?

Paul Westerberg site
A great Paul fan blog is here.
The "Unofficial" Replacements database here.
You can check out Chris Mars' artwork here.

I'll Be You Official Video

Long audience shot with a few tunes including "Asking Me Lies" from this record.

Achin' To Be (embedding was not allowed)

You can buy the cd here.


At 10:45 PM, Anonymous Jimmy said...

I have seen the 'Mats many times in almost every form imaginable. Bob was a great guitarist but the substance abuse got him. He usually showed up late to shows and in a drunken state. Ironically, his playing was incredible. After losing Bob, the 'Mats seemed to lose direction. Still could put on some good live stuff, but there were times things got messed up. To recall an opening gig for Tom Petty was simply ridiculous. They switched instruments and sang lyrics to different songs the instruments played. They refused to be tamed which probably made them so good live. I do like this selection. A bit tame from the early stuff but still good.

At 7:33 PM, Blogger Mark Sonnier said...

'Don't Tell A Soul' came out during my final year in college. It was as much as coming of age album for me as I think it was for the band. It was a magical time in a lot of ways. I think I actually wore out a cassette due to repeated playings. Thanks so much for the reminder these twenty-odd years later!


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