Let It Be
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Let It Be
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On their first releases the Replacements seemed to have more ambition than other post-punkers, but it wasn't until Let It Be that they actually realised it. There's still plenty of smirking here--"Seen Your Video" is a great snotty taunt--but there's also smartly-crafted pop like "I Will Dare" and not-quite-love songs like "Answering Machine", not to mention a rocking cover of uncool Kiss that's played perfectly straight. This is classic, all-over-the-board indie rock, especially the angst-ridden empathy of "Sixteen Blue", where Paul Westerberg, all of 23, remembers just how it is to be a teenager. --David Cantwell
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The development of Westerberg’s song-writing into more commercial territory is probably best illustrated by the infectious album opener I Will Dare, whose jaunty rhythm contrasts with the man’s disaffected lyrics (a trait which runs through much of the album) – and which features Peter Buck’s guitar solo. As if to remind us of the band’s heritage however, we’re back into more 'straight (and exuberant) alternative rock’ territory with what follows – Favourite Thing, We’re Comin’ Out (a particular favourite of mine), (the humorous) Tommy Gets His Tonsils Out and (later), the admittedly rudimentary, Gary’s Got A Boner. Slightly 'straighter’ (and, certainly, timeless) rock is more in evidence on Westerberg’s tales of 'frustration with all things modern (in 1984)’, Seen Your Video and Answering Machine, plus the stunning cover of Kiss’ Black Diamond (three songs on which Westerberg and Bob Stinson’s guitars are truly magnificent). And then to cap it all, three of the most outstanding (and uniquely 'Westerbergian’) ballads you will hear anywhere, each an honest and affecting tale of 'youth angst’ to compare with any by, say, Dylan, Springsteen or Morrissey – Androgynous, Unsatisfied and Sixteen Blue.
And, as if that was not enough, the 2008 remastered CD also has that rarity – bonus tracks actually worth having! Namely, the previous b-side release cover of T-Rex’s 20th Century Boy (which almost achieves the impossible – standing up quite respectably against Bolan’s original), another catchy Westerberg original, Perfectly Lethal, two other outstanding (and inventive) covers – The DeFranco Family’s Heartbeat – It’s A Lovebeat and The Grass Roots’ Temptation Eyes, plus a 'solo home demo’ version of Answering Machine and an alternative vocal version of Sixteen Blue. All-in-all, it’s an essential album for the collection.
I put this up there in the same bracket as 'Never Mind the B*****ks', 'Nevermind', 'Raw Power' and 'Doolittle'. Just incredible guitar rock that never takes itself too seriously.
'Androgynous'... what a song...
From the upbeat 'I Will Dare' through to the closing 'Answering Machine' they never bettered this.
There problem was that they were in the wrong place at the wrong time and so success eluded them, but this was a blessing as they were one of the coolest underground bands around. Fronted by one of America's greatest songwriters Paul Westerberg and backed up by the Stinson brothers and Chris Mars this album was the first in the Holy Trinity which included 'Tim' and 'Pleased To Meet Me'. Songs of despair, growing up, sexuality and love-lost all in 30 minutes of music.
Argueably two of their finest songs were on this album in 'Answering Machine' and 'Unsatisfied', but as with all great albums there were no fillers.
The vinyl album was murder to find in the UK, but thankfully all of their records are easily available on CD now. But as I said this is the pick of the bunch and in my opinion among the best three records of the last 20 years. It's ironic now how many bands name-check them, but if only that had been transferred to sales then and given the band the success they deserved.
I had the great fortune to see them playing many of these songs live, but now almost twenty years later they sound just as fresh which is undoubtatly the sign of a great album.
Anyway, I've given you my opinion, so if want to own one of the real classics, this is the one!
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