I love the way the Replacements Stink starts:
Hello. This is the Minneapolis police. The party is over. If you all just grab your stuff and leave there won’t be any hassle. The party’s been closed. The party is over with, grab your stuff and go and nobody goes to jail.
… then Paul Westerberg bawls 1-2-3-4 and we’re off switchbacking through ‘Kids Don’t Follow’, the band’s first real classic. All streamlined urgency, potent guitar lines and raggedy edges, like a much less rehearsed Hüsker Dü. It really is prime US punk, but something much more too, it has all the voltage of hardcore but you can see the Replacement’s Rolling Stones branded petticoats peeping out from under their skirts too. As far as I’m concerned it is just perfect music, powerful and melodic with hints of chaos just lurking behind it all. Best of all it was written as a response to U2’s ‘I Will Follow’, so there’s a grain of spite behind it too:
Then we get the exhilarating, petulant ‘Fuck School’ a total blast of energy and the sort of thing that makes me very happy indeed, despite the fact that I left school 27 years ago and I really should know better. You can guess how the chorus goes. ‘Stuck In the Middle’ is a paean to living in the middle of the USA, eking pride from necessity (‘Burgers on the grill, oh what a thrill’).
Stink is basically an EP on steroids, originally hand-stamped by the band and anyone else they could coax into helping them to keep the costs right down. I love the way it showcases their bratty glee, but it also hints at what was to come later for Minneapolis’ finest.
The playing is great throughout from everyone involved, Bob Stinson never seems to get his proper dues as a guitar slinger and Chris Mars was a hell of a drummer, even as early as this in 1982.
For every ‘White and Lazy’, a faux blues number that descends into a hardcore rant and every ‘Dope Smokin Moron’ there’s a ‘Go’. The latter is a restrained, fragile sounding slice of melancholy about having someone leave their lover for you, or that’s how I interpret it at least. The pain and melancholy point to the glories that would surface on Let It Be in a few years time, well the glories that didn’t involve songs about boners and KISS covers.
My copy of Stink is an eight song affair that I got in a Replacements box set but there is a great version with 12 tracks, although I fear you may have to digital for that, but they are all great especially the raw, emotional demo for ‘You’re Getting Married’.
Stink is worth smelling, just for the exuberance of it all, it is a great blast from the underground and a real staging post on the Replacements’ journey towards their uniquely ephemeral greatness. And there’s some ace swearing.
Kids don’t follow
What you’re doin’
In my face and out my ear
Kids won’t follow
What you’re saying
We can’t hear
PS. It has to be said that the cop shutting the party down on ‘Kids Don’t Follow’ sounds pretty friendly and pleasant. It was recorded live from a party and rumour has it that the voice you can hear cursing the police in the background is none other than Dave Pirner.
PPS: Just so you know there was a certain amount of ingenuity and technical know-how that went into getting the toilet roll into just the right angle to take the cover pictures. I mention this because I have never fancied being one of those undiscovered geniuses.