40 Years Ago Today – Revisiting the EP Replacements Brash ‘Stink’
During the Replacements’ roughly five-year, four-album tenure at Twin Tone Records of Minneapolis, the band amassed a rabid fan whose passion grew in almost inverse proportion to its size. But it was appropriate, at least forty years ago, when the quartet released Stink (06/24/82), so it makes sense that the ‘Mats (so dubbed by their devout aficionados) follow their debut LP in such an impromptu fashion: as a quantum leap in the crystallization of their group persona, it’s the quartet’s last overt attempt to sound like hard-core punks (see 1983 hootenanny for further development and next year So be it for the coup de grace).
According to the complete book by Bob Mehr Trouble Boys: The True Story of Substitutes, the original eight-track EP finds its genesis in a melody Westerberg wrote in response to the burgeoning success of U2. Mentor/manager Peter Jesperson was so deeply in love with ‘Kids Don’t Follow’ that he insisted on the immediate recording of this direct response to the Irish band’s ‘I Will Follow’. And rightly so, because it is a shameless tribute to the independence of the public that the Replacements collected. As with most of the rest of the roughly fifteen minutes of playing time (just slightly longer than the total length of the four extra cuts added to the 2008 expanded CD reissue), the quartet battled with a combination of impatience and boastfulness, personality traits they have also seen reflected in their followers (and vice-versa).
An addendum to the aforementioned expanded re-release is a marked exception to these high adrenaline procedurals. Paul Westerberg offered his home demo of “You’re Getting Married” in an acoustic format which, according to the band’s biographer, guitarist Bob Stinson summarily dismissed as fodder for a solo album under the author’s own name. Hank Williams’ “Hey Good Lookin'” snippet is a genuinely rooted contrast to the covers usually offered by replacements, – “Fox On The Run” by Sweet and “Black Diamond” by Kiss – but not so far from this ragged take on “(We’re Gonna) Rock Around the Clock” by Bill Haley and The Comet.
Fully half original material for Stink, including “Fuck School”, was composed by the entire quartet. It’s no surprise, then, that the ‘Mats expressed such a dismissive attitude or the venal character portrayal “Dope Smokin’ Moron”: such were mixed sentiments and observations. “White And Lazy” mixes things up, at least stylistically, as it starts out as a kind of bluesy medley, complete with harmonica, but that’s before the quartet accelerates to a high speed similar to breakneck speed. favorite of their Twin Cities peers / rivals Husker Du. Meanwhile, “Gimme Noise” is also white-hot, at least in terms of musicality, if not Steve Fjelstad-engineered audio quality. The instruments merge just like the emotions in the songs.
Therefore, Stink is as true to life as artists and their audiences wanted it to be, at least at the time. Westerberg later said that this recording of Replacements “…sounded the most out of tune of all”, but it quite clearly captured the sound of a band at war with itself. From this now four-decade perspective, it is easy to see how such a struggle would play out on Glad to meet me, don’t tell nobody and all shaken.