Within Your Reach

I was flicking through my records on Saturday looking for something else when I found what I wasn’t looking for but pulled it out and played it anyway- Hootenanny, the second album by The Replacements. Hootenanny is a halfway house, a stepping stone from the breakneck punk of their early years to the slightly more considered sound of Let It Be and Tim. Hootenanny is still ragged, a bit of a mess in places with some songs that sound tossed off for a laugh but it also has the first of what would become Paul Westerberg’s signature aching, yearning guitar songs. Within Your Reach is just Westerberg too with a drum machine, flanged guitar and a trademark romantic lyric.

Within Your Reach

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Prince Paul And King Paul

I saw this recently, an excerpt from Bob Mehr’s excellent sounding new book on The Replacements, and it made me smile…

‘Prince was rumoured to have lurked in the shadows at some of the Replacements shows at First Avenue, but it was in the bathroom of a club in St. Paul where Westerberg finally ran into him.
“Oh, hey,” said Westerberg, seeing the dolled-up singer standing next to him at the urinal. “What’s up, man?”
Prince turned and responded in cryptic fashion: “Life.”

Paul Westerberg called time on The Replacements re-union recently having fell out of love with it again. He called the re-union ‘whoring himself’. I’ve said it before- The Replacements were such a great little band. Paul’s gone straight back to work, recording and releasing an album with Juliana Hatfield as The I Don’t Cares. This upbeat song has clanging Westerberg guitars, a bitter-sweet lyric and drawly vocals from the pair of them. Good stuff.

King Of America

Left Of The Dial

There can’t be many bigger fans of yesterday’s postee Alex Chilton than Paul Westerberg. In fact, he even wrote a song called Alex Chilton. Westerberg’s 80s indie-punk ┬áband The Replacements deserve a place in every record collection. Starting out as snotty teenage Mid West punks they (matured is probably the wrong word) eventually made several excellent albums, the pinnacle being Let It Be, a stone cold classic. They managed to sabotage their career on multiple occasions, through drunkeness, bad timing and bad luck. Left Of The Dial is one of their ragged anthems, a tribute to where on your radio tuner you need to go to find more interesting sounds.

Left Of The Dial

Folk Star


Ex-Replacements frontman Paul Westerberg has had a hit-and-miss solo career with hidden gems surrounded by duff moments, and albums which got rid of large proportions of his fan base followed by albums that hit form but no-one bought. In 2004 he released Folker, then his fifth album in two years. It had it’s quota of less than average songs and a few really bright moments. The final song was this one, where Paul rhymes ‘folk star’ with ‘red plastic guitar’ and wryly shoots at his public image. Cack-handed guitar playing and rough production complete a minor gem. This song is then followed by several minutes of silence and then, ooh, a secret track, the name of which I don’t know. To be honest the hidden track thing always annoyed me, so I don’t blame you if you press Next or Fast Forward after the end of Folk Star. I don’t know what’s going on with that jacket either.