Speaking of the Replacements, many youngsters who revere the band today may not know about the group’s strong Michigan connection. For quite a few years in the ‘80s, Ann Arbor was the band’s second home away from their Minneapolis home. Westerberg’s girlfriend and first wife worked at the then-thriving alternative record store, Schoolkids, which is why the band was in the area so much. They used to regularly do their incredible kick-ass rock ‘n’ roll kamikaze act (some shows announced; some not) at the now-defunct Joe’s Star Lounge, as well as turning up unannounced on bills when friends would come through town on tour; I remember one particular concert at Masonic Auditorium, when they suddenly appeared sandwiched between the opening Three O’Clock and the headlining R.E.M. The ‘Mats also opened several times for X in Ann Arbor during those years.

In case you haven’t heard, leader Paul Westerberg released a new album, available as a download only this week, simply titled 49:00. The album title refers not only to its length but also its 49 cent (yep, that’s right – 49 pennies!) price tag. Presented as one track, it’s actually a series of new songs segued, strung, mashed and mixed together,r all in one fast download. I haven’t listened it yet

but fellow fan/friends tell me its awesome and his best since Come Feel Me Tremble. You can download it at as well as at amazon.

If that’s not enough news, in case you haven’t heard this yet either, the second batch of Replacements albums — that is, the Sire years records — will finally be released by Rhino on September 23rd, featuring a wealth of outtakes and unreleased tracks. I say “finally” because I wrote the liner notes for two of them — Pleased To Meet Me and Don’t Tell A Soul — almost two years ago. Since then, the band’s first manager and archivist Peter Jesperson decided it would be best to have a different journalist on each album, so the Pleased To Meet Me notes were reassigned to writer Michael Hill, who was also the band’s A&R rep. I was a little bummed, as PTMM is maybe my favorite album by the band (well, it’s a tossup between that, Let It Be and Tim) but what are ya gonna do? Besides, the Don’t Tell A Soul notes probably were the better of the two. At any rate, I’ll post the original Pleased To Meet Me notes here on the MT Website when the albums come out, just so they don’t go totally to waste.

Pitchfork posted a full list of the tracks last week, from the press release that Rhino sent around, so you can see ‘em here. I struck up a long-lasting friendship with the band in Michigan back in the late ‘80s — Paul and Tommy dedicated “I.O.U” to me from the stage at the Greek Theater in L.A. two years ago when they reunited for the first time in nearly 15 years to perform four songs at the premiere of the Open Season film (for which Westerberg wrote the soundtrack; still one of the proudest moments of my career) — so I’m very prejudiced. Nevertheless, I believe they may have been America’s last truly GREAT rock ‘n’ roll band

so I’m awaiting these reissues with great anticipation. The first batch – that would be the Twin/Tone records (which due to lack of space, we never had a chance to review in the paper) — weren’t too shabby, either. No band’s ever released a better (though some certainly as good) trilogy of albums than Let It Be, Tim and Pleased to Meet Me, so if you’re unfamiliar with the ‘Mats, do yourself a favor and familiarize yourself with ‘em.

The Replacements: Last truly great American band?

Oh, yeah, the ‘Mats always counted the Faces — another Detroit regular back in their golden days — as one of their all-time favorite bands. Saw a video of the band performing this Motown classic somewhere else the other day and decided to add it here for your weekend viewing pleasure


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