With the recent resurgence of the Replacements (both on stage and on the page), an entirely new generation of music fans are being introduced to the ramshackle charms of the Twin Cities’ beloved rock band. Whether you’ve been into the ‘Mats since their early club days or were blown away by their Parade Stadium show, their deep and diverse studio output is full of boozy anthems and vulnerable complexities that will never go out of style.
With the renewed interest in the Replacements comes a slew of reissues of their old albums, repackaged box sets, and a sharp spike in price for the first pressings of their original LPs. Here’s a handy guide for those who are looking to take a deeper dive into the records of the Replacements — letting you know what to look for, where to start, and what’s available out there.
The Current is paying tribute to the Replacements by playing their greatest songs throughout the day. Click here to follow the countdown, and to see best-song lists written by some the band’s celebrity fans.
Sorry Ma, Forgot To Take Out The Trash (Twin/Tone Records, 1981)
After winning over the folks at Minneapolis indie label Twin/Tone Records with a short demo tape as well as boisterous live shows at the Longhorn, the ‘Mats released their raucous debut LP (recorded locally at Blackberry Way Studios) in August of 1981. The original LPs (labeled as catalog number TTR 8123) of this early gem are hard to find at this point (typically running between $30-$70), but a good way to check if you have a first pressing is: on the runout of the record (the portion of the record between the last song and the inner circle), there should be an etching of REMS RULE on Side A, and NAH (the publishing rights name for the Replacements) on Side B.
The UK version of the album, licensed from Twin/Tone by What Goes On Records, is also quite a rare find at this point. Thankfully, after these original LPs went out of print, Rhino Records has reissued Sorry Ma (as well as three other early Replacements records) as part of their 4LP The Twin/Tone Years vinyl box set in August 2015 – however, only 8,000 of those were pressed, so you should get the set soon before it sells out.
Stink (Twin/Tone Records, 1982)
Twin/Tone founder Peter Jesperson and his cohorts hand-stamped all 10,000 of the plain white record jackets for Stink (catalog number TTR 8228), with each cover looking different from the next, depending on the ink left on the stamp (and how many drinks the guys had in them at the time).
The rapid-fire EP was released as a vehicle for the ‘Mats blistering new single, “Kids Don’t Follow,” which is why the cover underplays the importance of the other songs on the EP by stating, “‘Kids Don’t Follow’ Plus Seven.” Famously, the EP kicks off with an actual recording of the Minneapolis Police busting a Replacements show in January 1982.
There are different versions of the EP floating out there (with most good quality copies going for $90 and up), using black ink as well as red ink on the cover, with makeshift bar codes created by using a homemade potato stamp concocted by Jesperson. Later runs of the original EP were pressed on color vinyl, with all versions hard to find and quite costly at this point. This EP is also included in Rhino’s The Twin/Tone Years box set.
When The Current released a 10″ record last year to celebrate our tenth anniversary as a station, the cover design featured a hand-stamped logo as a Stink homage.
Hootenanny (Twin/Tone Records, 1983)
The Replacements’ second full-length was mostly recorded in “a warehouse in some godawful suburb north of Mpls” (eventually revealed to be Brooklyn Center). The first pressings of the album (typically priced anywhere between $35-$80) are labeled on the back as TTR 8332, with the now-iconic record cover credited to Fake Name Graphix.
The light blue inner label on the record itself contains a few interesting revelations: “Mr. Whirly,” a rollicking hodgepodge of Beatles riffs and Chubby Checker’s “The Twist,” is credited as “mostly stolen,” while “Lovelines,” which features lyrics taken directly from City Pages, is partially credited to C.P. Readers.
The record turns up in used bins more often than you’d think, especially given how popular the album is for hardcore ‘Mats fans. The colorful sleeve, striking fonts, and classy graphic design certainly stands out in any rack or record collection, even all these years later. You can also find this record included in Rhino’s The Twin/Tone Years box set.
Let It Be (Twin/Tone Records, 1984)
The Replacements’ final studio release on Twin/Tone before making their inevitable jump to a major label, Let It Be (catalog number TTR 8441) not only resonates with local music fans due to its stellar tracklist, but also the legendary cover shot by Daniel Corrigan, taken on the roof of Tommy Stinson’s mother’s house on Bryant Avenue. The 12-inch single of one of the album’s standout singles, “I Will Dare” (catalog number TTR 8440), features an outtake from the same iconic rooftop photo shoot.
Original pressings of Let It Be (priced between $30-$70) come with an inner dustsleeve touting other Twin/Tone releases by bands like the Suburbs, Curtiss A, Soul Asylum, and the Suicide Commandos — bands that would have to keep the Twin/Tone legacy going after the ‘Mats left for Sire.
As the Replacements were gaining popularity within the international indie rock community, Let It Be was released by a wide array of labels worldwide; like Producciones Twins in Spain, Zippo Records in the UK, and New Rose Records in France. Any of those import pressings would be a major score in a used shop, but the originals do show up frequently depending on the shops you frequent. Let It Be also represents the final LP included in Rhino’s The Twin/Tone Years box set.
The Shit Hits the Fans (Twin/Tone Records, 1985)
This cassette-only live album represents the Replacements’ last Twin/Tone release, and what a wild gift to leave their label and their die-hard fans as they made the transition to Sire. The artwork for the cassette (titled Bob’s Barbershop) was done by drummer Chris Mars, while the schizophrenic 24-song tracklist only features five original songs by the Replacements themselves. The liner notes, written by Paul Westerberg, encapsulate the disheveled performance, as well as the outsider appeal of the band.
“Ever wanted to be popular, the life of the party (just plain liked, ever)? Well, we did. And now that the absurd dream seems to be within reach, we’ve come to the sobering realization that we don’t f–kin’ know how to pull it off. People come to see us and what do we go and do? What we want — play covers, basically wing it and embarrass a lot of people in the process (a dunce cap never fit so well). For worse or for worser, it’s us, and without that stuff we’d die a dull death…Not a normal set, but we’re not sure what one is anyway. Last gig of the tour, plenty of poop, but we like it. So here you go, friends. No backs. Pray for us, Paul.”
There were only 10,000 copies of these made originally, so if you ever see one in a record store, pay whatever it takes (anywhere between $45-$70) to bring this untamed live show home with you.
Tim (Sire, 1985)
The Replacements went big with their major label debut, getting Tommy Ramone (listed by his given name, Tommy Erdelyi) to produce the album, and celebrated American painter/sculptor Robert Longo to do the cover art. First pressings (catalog number 1-25330) are easier to find (usually somewhere between $25-$40), since Sire had more resources at their disposal, while the Replacements (following their infamous Saturday Night Live performance that earned them a 28-year ban from NBC) were more popular than ever.
There are also multiple worldwide pressings of the record, with German, New Zealand, Canadian, and Australian versions available. Tim also is the first LP included in Rhino’s second LP box set covering the Replacements, The Sire Years, which again was pressed in a limited-edition batch of 8,700 copies, and features the band’s final four full-lengths.
Pleased To Meet Me (Sire, 1987)
With cover art (again featuring a Daniel Corrigan photograph) that poked fun at their newfound major label “success,” Pleased to Meet Me represents the Replacements’ transition to a new phase following the departure of guitarist Bob Stinson. The original pressings of the album (catalog number 25557-1) feature inner dustsleeve artwork by Chris Mars, as well as a slew of candid photographs of the band.
This was a successful album for the Replacements (selling over 300,000 copies), which should make it easier for you to track down moderately priced original pressings ($30-$60) in your local record shop. The fact that Pleased To Meet Me was also pressed in Germany, Canada, New Zealand, Spain, Italy, France, and Brazil will only add to the various used copies in the bins. If you want to get all of the later LPs all in one go, pick up Rhino’s The Sire Years.
Don’t Tell A Soul (Sire, 1989)
The Replacements’ first album with guitarist Slim Dunlap has the hushed, resigned air of the beginning of the end for the Replacements, a theme which is only enhanced by the ghostly front and back cover photos by David Seltzer. First pressings of the album (catalog number 25831-1) should be easier to find than most of the other records in the Replacements’ back catalog, since the album is frequently underrated and overlooked by casual fans of the band.
The inner dustsleve of the LP also features a cryptic L.L.Y.F.F. listed innocuously after all the credits from the record (portions of which were recorded at Paisley Park). It turns out that the mysterious acronym actually stands for Long Live Young Fresh Fellows, the ‘80s alt-rock group that toured with the Replacements and apparently played Paul Westerberg’s wedding in 1987.
As with all the Replacements’ Sire releases, there are many different pressings from throughout Europe, Canada, and Australia and New Zealand, with Don’t Tell A Soul also being included in Rhino’s recent LP box, The Sire Years.
All Shook Down (Sire, 1990)
The final studio album from the Replacements is basically a de facto solo album from Paul Westerberg, with only occasional performances from the other band members mixed in with guest appearances by session musicians and rock veterans like John Cale, Benmont Tench, Johnette Napolitano, and Charley Drayton.
Original pressings of the Sire issue of the album (catalog number 7599-26298-1) are quite reasonable ($15-$35) as a result of the fracturing of the band, with many hardcore ‘Mats fans viewing this as an uneven, unfocused work from a band in name only. However, the record did garner the Replacements a Grammy nomination for Best Alternative Music Album, an award they lost to Sinéad O’Connor’s I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got.
Following his appearance in the “Merry Go Round” video, Chris Mars then left the band, with Steve Foley replacing him on drums during the Replacements’ extended farewell tour, which ended in Chicago on July 4, 1991.
Songs For Slim (New West, 2013)
This short collection found the band reuniting in September 2012 to record a benefit EP for Slim Dunlap, who had recently suffered a stroke. Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson feature on four of the album’s five tracks, with drummer Chris Mars playing all the instruments on “Radio Hook Word Edit.”
A strictly limited-edition 10″ pressing of the EP (catalog number NW4016) was auctioned off to the highest bidders, with these 250 copies all signed by the three band members. A more widespread 12-inch release of the EP was later made available, pressed on red vinyl (catalog number NW4017).
The signed copies are understandably far more scarce, with those lucky few who won the auction (which raised $106,750.92 towards Slim’s medical expenses) holding on tight to their treasured copies. The red vinyl versions can typically be found for between $10-$20.
Erik Thompson is the clubs editor at City Pages, and a freelance music writer in the Twin Cities.