It’s been a long, arduous year for Replacements guitarist and ace songwriter Slim Dunlap, who suffered a serious stroke last February and has been slow to recover ever since. Dunlap has spent most of the past year moving between the hospital, a rehabilitation facility, and his home, and just this week he’s back in the ICU dealing with a new array of health issues.
“Yes, Bob is in the ICU at Abbott Hospital,” says Dunlap’s wife, Chrissie. “I am happy to report he is much improved from yesterday when I brought him in. He has several health issues, but has not been fully diagnosed yet. They are running tests, x-rays, scans, and the full bit to try and determine what it is that is making him so sick.”
Slim’s latest hospital stay happens to coincide with the release of a new Replacements reunion EP titled Songs for Slim, which just went up for auction today. The five-song EP features founding ‘Mats members Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson (plus Kevin Bowe on guitar and Peter Anderson on drums) covering Dunlap’s “Busted Up,” Hank Williams’ “Lost Highway,” Gordon Lightfoot’s “I’m Not Saying,” and Broadway show tune “Everything’s Coming Up Roses,” plus ‘Mats drummer Chris Mars covering Dunlap’s “Radio Hook Word it.”
A limited run of 250 autographed copies of the vinyl EP are being auctioned now, with a widespread release to follow. Bidding for the first copy in the limited series is already up to $10,000, while other copies seem to be hovering between $50-$500 a piece. All proceeds will benefit Slim and help cover the mounting costs of his medical care.
“We are feeling overwhelmed with the love and support that is out there for him, and it is so comforting to see and feel that envelop us everyday,” says Chrissie. “I have said this before—it is not true nobody knows you when you’re down and out! We are immensely grateful to everyone, and these auctions are insane—never in our wildest dreams did we think anyone would bid $10,000.00 for a record!”
Chrissie also offered up her take on the EP, which will not be released digitally until the auction of limited vinyl wraps up next week. “We have listened to the ‘Mats recording hundreds of times and it is spectacular—I promise the folks who buy it will not be disappointed, and I am thrilled it will also be available to everyone after the auction is over. The three cover songs were carefully chosen as a message to Slim, and are heartwarming and sweet and wonderful. They sound like the Replacements at their best, and Paul’s singing is really, really great, with much heart and soul.”
An interview with Songs for Slim producer Ed Ackerson on Gimme Noise offers a few more details about the record, which was tracked at Ackerson’s Flowers Studio in Minneapolis:
The session was an absolute blast. The vibe was really easy going but also very high energy and absolutely hilarious. When they want to, these guys can bring it effortlessly. To me the energy on that session was 100% vintage Replacements magic, and I think the tunes on the EP reflect it.
And Consequence of Sound has an interview with former Replacements manager and Songs for Slim organizer Peter Jesperson today, who says that Dunlap’s illness has brought Minneapolis musicians together to rally behind him and his family.
It was great to see people coming through the door. Tim O’Reagan from the Jayhawks would pop in or Jim Boquist—Son Volt is what he’s best known for—or Westerberg or whoever, just people coming by to visit. A lot of people have really been shocked and startled, and it’s brought a lot of people together, to tell you the truth, and that’s part of what this project is.
Once the Replacements EP is released, Jesperson and his cohorts at New West Records will turn their attention toward a monthly series of Songs for Slim 45s, which will feature prominent artists like Lucinda Williams, Jakob Dylan, and Frank Black (with the Suicide Commandos!) covering Dunlap’s tunes. The first Songs for Slim 45 will feature Steve Earle covering “Times Like This” and Craig Finn doing “Isn’t It?,” and is due out February 15.
Details on the Songs for Slim auction and forthcoming 45 series are available at SongsforSlim.com.