Hootenanny (Deluxe Edition)

The Replacements

Rhino, 2008

REVIEW BY: Sean McCarthy

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 09/10/2008

In Michael Azerrad’s Our Band Could Be Your Life, the author lays out the argument that The Replacements usually drank heavily before playing not to live a certain rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, but more because of the nervousness they felt at the possibility of turning into a self-important band that they hated. Paul Westerberg’s writing and the band’s genuine love of everything from hardcore to ‘50s-era pop made them crafty songwriters. But the band would sometimes intentionally sabotage their playing to keep their devil-may-care credibility intact. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

No other album in The Replacements’ catalog represents this precocious balancing of tunesmith and messiness as Hootenanny. Azerrad writes about how Paul Westerberg and drummer Chris Mars switched instruments without producer Paul Stark’s knowledge, and that take ultimately made it onto the album. Music wasn’t the only messy element of Hootenanny. The cliché of “<fill in your favorite singer here> could sing the classified ads in the newspaper and still make it sound good” is put to the test in “Lovelines.” In that song, Westerberg reads some classified ads from the Minneapolis alt-weekly City Pages.

The Rhino remastered version of this disc features six unissued recordings, two of which are alternative takes of “Lovelines” (with new ads!) and “Treatment Bound.” The additions are nice, but offer little in terms of insight into what made this such a transformative album for band.

While the sloppy, carefree attitude of The Replacements permeates Hootenanny, the album is far from a joke. “Color Me Impressed” and “Take Me Down To the Hospital” begin a long stretch of pilsner anthems for the ‘Mats that would form the majority of their next album, Let It Be.

With Hootenanny, The Replacements throw everything at the listener -- more so than any of their other albums. The thrashy hardcore of The ‘Mats of old (“Run It”), the emotional openness (“Within Your Reach”) and some stuff they would never try again (“Buck Hill”). As a mix, it doesn’t always work. But for those who never got a chance to see the band live, a first listen of Hootenanny is a great snapshot of a band at its unpredictable best.

Rating: B

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