The Replacements’ loving tribute to power pop pioneer Alex Chilton. Chilton had many hits as a teenager as a member of the Box Tops and was later a pivotal member of Big Star, one of the best bands of the early 1970s.
Many alt-rock legends loved Chilton. My favorite story involves the Butthole Surfers. From Michael Azerrad’s wonderful history of American 1980s alt-rock, “Our Band Could Be Your Life,” Azerrad related that one night, Surfers lead singer Gibby Haynes was having one of his usual, violent, acid-drenched freakouts backstage at a gig in Holland. Allegedly, Haynes was completely naked and having multiple altercations with the security of the gig, to the point where 10 people had to hold him down. As Haynes was freaking out back stage, a man asked if he could borrow a guitar. Haynes lit into him, yelling “BORROW A GUITAR??!! WELL, WHO THE F–K ARE YOU??!!” itching for an fight. The man calmly said “I’m Alex Chilton.” Haynes immediately calmed down, opened all the guitar cases one by one, and said “Take anything you want.” That, my friends, is what we call the power of ethos.
During the 1980s, the Replacements were the critics favorite that everyone thought would be the Rolling Stones to REM’s The Beatles. And if you heard 1984′s “Let it Be,” it would be hard to disagree. There’s not a bad track on the album andit wasn’t foolhardy to predict big things loomed ahead for the Placemats …… And I guess you don’t need a road map to predict what happened next. The major-label follow-up “Tim,” despite some great songs, sounded tinny and under-produced (and that’s compared to the indie “Let it Be” which even today, just crackles). The next one “Please to Meet Me” was better, but was so overproduced that it’s damn near impossible to listen to these days without wincing. They finally scored a semi-hit with the admittedly great “I’ll Be You” in 1989, but the other albums were even more hit or miss and they called it quits around 1991.
“Here Comes a Regular” is one of the highlights from “Tim” and it’s presented here in an alternate take that has more clarity, but is also rawer than the version that made it onto “Tim.” A fine example of what a great songwriter Paul Westerberg is.
CORRECTION: Forget what I said about “Tim.” This is now my favorite Replacements album. All I can say is that I was wrong … dead wrong … about the quality of “Tim.” Check it out below: