Which songs must be on the Replacements reunion setlist?
With 22 years for us all to think about it, there are options galore for the Replacements' headlining performance at Riot Fest in Toronto on Sunday. Their first show since 1991 could revisit any number of segments of the band's past -- perhaps even their "Hayday." The settling of time has elevated the culture surrounding certain songs, and others seem far too obvious to include in 2013. Will Paul Westerberg, Tommy Stinson, David Minehan, and Josh Freese rely more on punk or Americana? Will they allow any surprise guests, and will the shit hit the fans?
The only thing that's certain everyone's going to have a different opinion. Gimme Noise asked contributors and local fans -- though one declined, noting "no Chris Mars = no reunion" -- to weigh in on what songs the Replacements should play.
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There's rehearsal footage of " Takin' a Ride ," " Favorite Thing " ("The most underrated song on Let it Be ," says GN contributor Zach McCormick), and " Alex Chilton " posted by the band. (Plus this Instagram suggesting some practicing was happening at First Avenue this week.) It would be pretty shocking if frequent set-starter "I Will Dare" doesn't figure in, and look to 2006's Don't You Know Who I Think I Was? compilation as a primer on other likelihoods from their hits ("I'll Be You") and local radio faves ("Left of the Dial," "Skyway").
"For me it's all about 'Bastards of Young,'" says Chris Strouth. "It was my fraternity 'chair dancing' song. Chair dancing is sort of a weird phenomenon that takes place at formal events -- everyone in a tux extremely formal. Then the guys would essentially while seated backwards in a chair would sort of jump up and down with it, essentially slam dancing. Needless to say, at the end of the night a number if chairs would get broken. It's actually how I came to love that band. After all, we were the sons of no one too."
"The only song the band should definitely avoid at all costs is 'Dose Of Thunder,'" says Erik Thompson. "That song is fucking terrible." And maybe that'll be reason enough to consider it.
Holy crap, there are so many apt covers that could interrupt (or completely dominate) a Replacements set. Sure, there are the zany numbers ranging from BTO's "Takin' Care of Business" to R.E.M.'s "Radio Free Europe -- that populated The Shit Hits the Fans, their 1985 cassette-only live album. And with guys who have spent time in other outfits, you could get a humorous dose of Devo, Guns 'N Roses, the Neighborhoods, or heaven knows what else. Big Star or the Box Tops or Yes or AC/DC or Tom Petty or... maybe "Hello, Dolly!" says Replacements historian Jim Walsh.
Usually when the band is set to play a complete album, the promotion wheels are in motion to announce it ahead of time, but who knows? According to Gimme Noise contributor Pat O'Brien, "If they are going to do a full album, they should do Let it Be." Plus, Thompson ranked it as the top Replacements studio album, which we'll take as a similar vote. It's the album that balances the alternating polish and rawness of the band's sound best, but there are plenty of Hootenanny fans who'd prefer something rougher.
Paul's Solo Material
Well, there wasn't a lot in this category to think about when the Replacements were hitting the stage for the last time at Taste of Chicago in 1991 -- unless you put All Shook Down in this category. In the decades following, there have been loads of songs that would beef up an already brimming set. "Dyslexic Heart" or a surprise appearance by Joan Jett for "Let's Do It" or the currently apt "World Class Fad," perhaps?
However, O'Brien argues: "It's good, but it'd be like going to a screening of Pulp Fiction and getting Jackie Brown instead -- just fine, but not what you were sold on."
Songs for Slim
Speaking of covers, the band's new release -- featuring a couple reinterpretations of 'Mats guitarist Slim Dunlap originals and other covers -- seems hard to ignore. Since the reunion was precipitated at least in part as a means to raise some money to help Dunlap following his debilitating stroke last year -- and some of the money the band receives for playing Riot Fest will go to offset his medical bills -- you'd expect there will be at least some musical acknowledgement. Says Walsh: "I bet 'Busted Up' will be a highlight, if not the highlight, of the set. Slim and the members of his great band will be there in spirit, and it has the potential to sprawl out and blow up in a festival setting."
Plenty of folks wouldn't mind hearing "Portland." Plus, the underrepresented early stuff. Both Walsh and McCormick mentioned "Hayday" from Hootenanny. "Really, anything off of Sorry Ma or Stink," adds McCormick. "Although it's probably unlikely that they'll do those. My personal choices would be "Shiftless When Idle," "Raised in the City" and "Love You Till Friday" off of Sorry Ma because they really capture how groundbreaking the 'Mats personal style of punk is. And my Stink pick is pretty obvious, "Gimmie Noise"! Gotta say that last one's a pretty smart choice. I'll add "Rock 'n' Roll Ghost" and call it a night.
Now, we open it up to everyone else. What should the band play?
Gimme Noise will be in Toronto to document what the band actually does play at Riot Fest 2013. Look for updates here and on Twitter.
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