This feature originally ran in August 2013, but we’re dusting it off in celebration of Paul Westerberg’s birthday on December 31st.
Welcome to Dissected, where we disassemble a band’s catalog, a director’s filmography, or some other critical pop-culture collection in the abstract. It’s exact science by way of a few beers. This time, we sort through the best and worst of everyone’s favorite Trouble Boys.
“Whose side are you on?” That’s the age-old question Paul Westerberg asks on “Left of the Dial” off of Tim. While he wasn’t exactly talking to his fans, he just as well could have been. At the time, the Minneapolis bard was already one foot in the door of another new era for The Replacements, a polarizing chapter that would see the band wave goodbye to their blitzkrieg of boozy basement punk and hello to a more endearing sound. It was an evolution that was already well into motion, but would go into overdrive after teaming up with Alex Chilton and introducing some brass.
Since then, there have been two sides to the fan base. Those who would rather crush cans to “Kids Don’t Follow” or “Gary’s Got a Boner,” and those who would rather stomp on cigarettes to “Sixteen Blue” and “Darlin’ One.” There’s an in-between, of course, as there is with any fanbase, but the polarizing bookends have to be addressed, particularly when you’re looking at a ranking.
So, which side are we on? We’re admittedly on the latter camp, humming along to “Talent Show” and “Valentine,” though we’d be lying if “Takin’ A Ride” doesn’t still get us going — and we’d also be fools to dismiss any of it.
— Michael Roffman
Stink EP (1982)
Back to Back: 8 tracks / a lean and very mean 15:10
Bullpen: Chris Mars, Bob Stinson, Tommy Stinson, Paul Westerberg, Minneapolis State Police.
He’s Gone … and Calmed Down for a Just a Second: It’s actually harder to find a track on Stink where the ‘Mats haven’t gone mental. The music slows down ever so slightly for the appropriately white-and-lazy “White and Lazy,” but even that’s shortlived by song’s end. Really only the not-so-appropriately titled “Go” is the lone mid-tempo track. Other than those two, get ready for some deep bruising. The band wouldn’t be this consistently fast and furious again.
Tommy Gets His Learner’s Permit: That’s right, kids. Tommy Stinson was only 15 at the time of Stink’s recording and eventual release. Bob’s kid brother couldn’t even smoke and drink with the rest of the band. Well, at least not legally.
“Is the entirety of Stink longer than Pink Floyd’s ‘Dogs’?” Nope. Track two on Floyd’s Animals is one minute and 54 seconds longer.
Number of Forms of “Fuck” in “Fuck School” vs. Number of Forms of “God Damn” in “God Damn Job”: 32 fucks to 25 god damns. *There may be 34 fucks in “Fuck School,” but Westerberg is spitting those words out so quickly and he’s not always up on the mic, so it’s up for dispute. Fuck.
Wait, What Do You Mean the Minneapolis State Police Are on the EP? That’s apparently them at the beginning of “Kids Don’t Follow,” telling the kids to disperse during an actual Replacements’ show.
I Hate Music: “Gimme Noise” is the last track and…I was going to say how it’s an example of how the EP begins to drown in repetition before the band bows out, but honestly, if they play this live in Toronto, Denver, or Chicago this year, the audience will likely go batshit. Songs are gone before you know it; too harmless to harp on.
Best Outtake: The Bob Stinson-disapproved “You’re Getting Married.” It’s a Westerberg solo demo on acoustic guitar that could never have fit in with the rest of Stink, but a precursor of future ballads from the other Sir Paul (ex: “Here Comes a Regular”).
Beer Me: The mix sounds cheap, but serviceable for the time being while we wait for the greater work to come. Please, have a Pabst Blue Ribbon on me!
Analysis a.k.a. “Does it Stink?” A polarizing release to fans of classic-era Replacements, and understandably so. Nearly every song repeats its title dozens of times before its two minutes are up, and it’s all a sloppy, inebriated affair. To some, this is great. To others, it can be grating. Count me in with the former. What separates Stink from its predecessor is that it’s over way before its repetition becomes annoying. It’s just good, messy, fun in 15 minutes.
— Justin Gerber