If you’ve visited the Current’s site at all this week, chances are you picked up on a theme—we’re a little excited about the Replacements’ first show in 22 years, happening this Sunday night in Toronto, and it’s given us an excuse to dive deep into one of Minnesota’s most revered bands.
For the beginners who are curious what all the fuss is about, we have the Current’s guide to the Replacements. For the intermediate scholars, we have a map of all the connections between the ‘Mats and other bands of their time on our Replacements Family Tree. And for those looking to go even deeper, we have a look at Replacements-related landmarks, then and now and an interview with the art director who oversaw the album art for the band’s major-label debut, Tim.
As for me, I’m getting ready to hop a plane and fly to Toronto this Sunday for the Replacements’ headlining set at Riot Fest. To prepare (if it’s possible to prepare for something like this?), I’ve been listening to and watching as much ‘Mats stuff as possible. Here are five highlights…
Bastards of Young
In what is likely their best known video, the band rebelled against the concept of creating a music video by filming one single, steady shot of a stereo speaker to accompany their song “Bastards of Young.” It actually wasn’t the only song from Tim that got the non-conformist treatment; both the “Hold My Life” video and “Left of the Dial” depicted the same stereo system with no further shots of the actual band.
By the time the Replacements started showing up in their own videos the band’s roster had changed from its founding lineup. After releasing Tim in 1985, Bob Stinson was asked to leave the group. The remaining members carried on as a trio, recording Pleased to Meet Me and then recruiting Slim Dunlap to fill in on guitar at their live shows to promote its release in 1987. In this video for “Alex Chilton” we still don’t get many traditional shots of the band, but it does provide some close-up shots of Paul Westerberg, Tommy Stinson, Chris Mars, and Slim looking extremely disinterested as the song plays in the background. Similar shots of the band were used again in the video for “The Ledge.”
I’ll Be You
By the time the Replacements issued their second Warner Bros. record, Don’t Tell a Soul, the jig was up and they started making more conventional videos. But, well, it was the ’80s, and looking back at the stylized additions to the videos it makes it easier to understand why they were so reticent about the whole endeavor. “I’ll Be You” starts to push the band in a more arty direction, with shattered mirror effects splintering images of them performing on a stage. But it hardly compares to the next monstrosity on the list…
When It Began
One of the most surreal videos I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching, “When It Began” (off the band’s last studio full-length, All Shook Down) combines claymation, green screens, inexplicable banjos and ukuleles, and other trippy visual effects. It came out in 1991 amid a period of visual art that was so high-concept and quirky that it somehow helped the band snag two nominations at that year’s MTV Video Music Awards.
Achin’ to Be
This is my favorite Replacements video, for a few reasons. It’s one of the most straightforward videos they ever made (along with “Merry Go-Round”), and it was filmed in recognizable locales like the CC Club. I’ve always loved this song, and it features a cameo from someone who is quite familiar to Current fans…