Rolling Stone Magazine
The Replacements’ ‘Pleased to Meet Me’ Box Set Is Filled With Great Music the Band Left in the Fridge With rare recordings featuring guitarist Bob Stinson and previously unreleased songs, the collection shines new light on the beloved indie-rock band’s career turning point
Pleased to Meet Me was the sound of the Replacements trying for once. The band’s previous five LPs were snarky slacker masterpieces full of chintzy songs about hating music ’cause it’s got too many notes, ironic Kiss covers, and the occasional tender ballad, and their concerts were more like drunken hootenannies — all of this sloppiness was what won them their legend. But sometime after recording their beloved Tim album, Paul Westerberg decided they ought to grow up a little, the group parted ways with founding guitarist Bob Stinson, and the ‘Mats became self-aware.
They lost some of their danger, recording the very produced LP as a trio with a supporting cast of thousands, yet still managed to cough up two all-time classics — the beat-skipping “Alex Chilton” on which you can hear Westerberg exuberantly catching his breath and the mellow love letter “Can’t Hardly Wait.” They also recorded a handful of almost classics (“Skyway,” “IOU”), and some tongue-in-cheek head scratchers (the faux-jazzy “Nightclub Jitters” and what might be the Replacements band diary, “I Don’t Know”). In spite of some über-Eighties, ultra-reverberated production (which still sounds better than their next album, Don’t Tell a Soul), the record was the band’s last moment of greatness.
This new box set shows how the album could have been even better. The Replacements recorded a lot of music around Pleased to Meet Me, much of which came out on various singles and compilations, as well as demos, alternate versions of songs, and tunes that for whatever reason were forgotten in the back of the beer fridge.
The most interesting stuff here is in the Blackberry Way Demos, some of which came out on a previous expanded edition of the album. Eight of the tracks feature some of Stinson’s last recordings with the band, and his whiplash snarls on “I.O.U.,” rockabilly shredding “Time Is Killing Us,” and tasteful accents on “Valentine” show what the album could have been. These recordings all have a raw, intimate quality that sounded polished on the LP. Even the demos they cut as a three-piece show how playful they could be; the two versions of Westerberg’s anti-TV screed “Kick It In” demonstrate how they could give a song a facelift on a whim, playing it straight on the first demo and adding bongos and more guitar textures to the second. And the country-rocking “Even If It’s Cheap” is a nice addition, if only to hear Tommy Stinson sing the album title: “Pleased to meet me, the pleasure’s all mine, I’ve seen you here before.” The winking nature of the way he sings the verse and the bridge that sounds a bit like “Jesse’s Girl” maybe explain why it didn’t make it much farther.
Even the collection’s rough mixes — usually the most over larded part of a box set — offer new insights. Gospel organ ran through the original mix of “Valentine.” It sounds like somebody played a little mandolin in “Alex Chilton” at some point. And the strings on the original “Can’t Hardly Wait” stepped on the dropout when Westerberg sings the title.
Of the three fully mixed, never-before-released tunes, “Learn How to Fail,” is the best with its jazzy guitar line and Westerberg convincing someone young to grow up a little before they start dating, followed closely by Tommy Stinson’s hard-rocking “Trouble on the Way.” “Run for the Country,” which features some harmonica, feels a little schmaltzy, and the previously unreleased cover of Billy Swan’s “I Can Help” pales in comparison with the raving drunk cover of the same tune they cut with Tom Waits (on last year’s Don’t Tell a Soul box set).
Taken as a whole — along with Replacements’ biographer Bob Mehr’s ever-excellent liner notes (which shed some light on Bob Stinson’s departure) — the holistic skyway-view of the album shows a band that was a little looser than they would want to let on. The ache in Westerberg’s voice feels deeper on several of the songs, and the way the group could settle into a jam, whether as a four-or three–piece, sounds easier. Now you can finally hear how they tried and where they succeeded.
Replacements Unearth Unreleased Songs recorded @ Blackberry Way for ‘Pleased to Meet Me’ Reissue
Three-disc set will feature band’s final recordings with Bob Stinson
By JON BLISTEIN Rolling Stone Magazine
The Replacements will reissue 'Pleased to Meet Me' as a box set, featuring 29 previously unreleased tracks.
The Replacements are prepping an expansive box set reissue of their 1987 album, Pleased to Meet Me, featuring an assortment of rarities and unreleased tracks, including Bob Stinson’s final recordings with the band. The set will arrive October 9th via Rhino.
The collection will boast 29 previously unreleased tracks, including demos, rough mixes and outtakes. To coincide with the box set announcement, the Replacements shared six of those unreleased songs on digital platforms: Rough mixes of “Alex Chilton,” “Never Mind,” “Valentine,” “Kick It in” and non-album tracks, “Birthday Gal” and “Election Day.”
The Pleased to Meet Me reissue will be anchored by a remastered version of the original album, along with an assortment of B-sides and a version of “Can’t Hardly Wait” remixed by Jimmy Iovine. The rarities include 15 demos — 11 of which are unreleased — recorded at Blackberry Way Studios in Minneapolis during the summer of 1986. Seven of those tracks mark the last recordings the Replacements made with Bob Stinson, who was pushed out of the band not long after (Stinson died in 1995).
The set will feature eight additional demos the Replacements recorded as a new trio, 13 previously unreleased rough mixes by studio engineer John Hampton, and an assortment of outtakes that were previously released on the 1997 compilation, All for Nothing/Nothing for All. Other unreleased rarities include two Paul Westerberg songs, “Run for the Country” and “Learn How to Fail,” and Tommy Stinson’s “Trouble on the Way.”
STRUTTER'ZINE Review from Holland
Michael Owens 'The right kind of crazy' (Blackberry Way Records/USA Import)
Singer/songwriter/guitarist MICHAEL OWENS has a long music history behind him going back to the 1970s when he was part of the band FINGERPRINTS. Fast forward to 2019 and a new solo-album is out. Musically speaking it is a nice mixture of Classic Rock, Americana and Power pop. Michael has a very recognizable voice that reminds me a bit of 1960s VAN MORRISON or a very raw ALICE COOPER, while musically it reminds me a bit of ELVIS COSTELLO, NICK LOWE and STEVE EARLE. It is actually a melting pot of all kinds of 60s-80s pop/rock styles, so it falls somewhere in between all of the previously mentioned acts. Not bad at all, with highlights like the more ballad orientated songs such as Old Man Joad that recalls a bit of classic BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN. I think by now you more or less get the idea of how this sounds, but it's best to check it out for yourself.
Michael Owens Blackberry Way Records
In 1986 Warner Brothers called me and requested a block of time for The Replacements. The sessions turned out to be what I later referred to as the pre-production sessions for “Pleases To Meet Me”. Some of the tracks were composed beforehand and others were worked out as we tracked them. I always felt the first attempt at certain songs like “Shooting Dirty Pool” might have had an edge on the later tracks that came out on the actual release. That is not to say that the later tracks were not great tracks but the vibe is often cool when a song is flushed out for the first time. Bob Mehr “Trouble Boys” called me a few months ago to let me know that Rhino/Warner Brothers was going to release a box set including the tracks from the previously mentioned session @ Blackberry Way along with a newly mixed version of the album and to chat about my remembrances. I am very much looking forward to hearing these tracks again and glad that the tracks we cut are finally seeing the light of day.
Chris Riemenschneider Mpls Star Tribune 7/24/2020
The third time might still pack a lot of charm for the Replacements’ 1987 album “Pleased to Meet Me,” which will get an even grander deluxe reissue from Rhino/Warner Bros. Records in October than the one churned out in 2008.
Announced Thursday via Rolling Stone, the new 3-CD, 1-LP version of the beloved record features a remastered version of the original album along with dozens of outtakes -- including 29 tracks never before released.
Among the “new” stuff are seven tracks that were the band’s last recordings with late guitarist Bob Stinson before he was fired. Those come from sessions at Blackberry Way Studio in Dinkytown over the summer of 1986 and include early versions of “Alex Chilton,” “I.O.U.,” “Valentine” and “Red Red Wine” as well as the non-album tracks “Birthday Gal” and “Election Day.”
Seven other newly unearthed demo tracks in the collection feature the Replacements as a trio working on versions of “Shooting Dirty Pool” and the outtakes “Kick It In” and “Even If It’s Cheap” – the latter of which features the opening line that gave the record its title: “Pleased to meet me / The pleasure’s all yours.”
The one vinyl LP in the set (180-gram) features newly issued “rough mixes” of the band’s often physically rough tracks in Memphis. It features most of the songs that made the cut on the original album, also including “Skyway” and “Can’t Hardly Wait.” These early versions were mixed by John Hampton, the engineer who worked with the album’s legendary producer Jim Dickinson at Ardent Studios.
As with “Dead Man’s Pop” – Rhino’s expanded redux of the 1989 album “Don’t Tell a Soul” – the “Pleased to Meet Me” box set also features a booklet with photos and a history of the album written by Bob Mehr, the Memphis-based author of “Trouble Boys: The True Story of the Replacements.”
STRUTTER'ZINE Review from Holland
The April Fools 'Third' (Blackberry Way Records/USA Import)
What if NEIL YOUNG would join FLEETWOOD MAC and record an album with B.O.C. backing up here and there, well, then it might sound like THE APRIL FOOLS latest release Third. This band hails from Minneapolis, MN and is formed around Brian Drake (vocals, guitar), Brad McLemore (guitar, vocals, harmonica), Terri Owens (guitar, mandolin, vocals), Ben Kaplan (drums, vocals) and Scott Hreha (bass guitar). The band previously released two albums, the self-titled debut The April Fools, Colorwheel and Third is as expected their 3rd release. The included music is nice mixture of Classic Rock, Bluesy Rock, Americana and Roots Rock, with a clear focus on strong melodies in each and every song. For example there is a gorgeous semi-rock ballad called Long Shadows that sounds like a rockier version of CALEXICO, which is of course a big compliment for THE APRIL FOOLS! Other highlights are rockers like Bell Of Stone, My Back Pages (BOB DYLAN cover), the heavy Blues Rocker 15 Minutes and You Make My Heart Beat Too Fast.
STRUTTER'ZINE Review from Holland
Points: 8.9 out of 10)
The Litter "Future Of The Past" (Blackberry Way Records/USA Import)
The Minnesota/USA based band THE LITTER was quite successful 50 years ago in the 1960s with their Punk/Garage Rock hit single Action Woman. In The late 1960’s they followed up Action Woman with the LP’s Distortions & Emerge. Emerge achieved gold status selling over 500,000 units. Although they released more records and made several reunions throughout the following decades, they never achieved the same success as they did with Emerge. However in 2019 they released a very strong new Classic Rock album, which consists of newly written original material from the band, plus a strong cover version of Stephen Stills song For What It’s Worth. The result is a surprisingly strong record that can easily be called Classic Rock in its purest format, reminding me of THE WHO, THE YARDBIRDS and LED ZEPPELIN. Most of the tunes are rockers, with a few slower songs, such as Stay With Me, a 1960s inspired rock/ shuffle-ballad that has hit potential written all over it. The band is at their best during the Classic Rock songs like Crazy Horse Legend, ITSNOT, the instrumental The Mummy's Revenge and the sensational You Can't Feel Love (LIZZY meets B.O.C.). The original singer MARK GALLAGHER sadly died in 2009. His replacement RONNIE LONG (of KATZ BAND) is a very good singer, which can be heard clearly during the calmer acoustic piece Voids Can Be Filled and the aforementioned rockers. Classic Rock fans need to check out this album a.s.a.p. if they long for a nostalgic ride back to the 1970s sound of bands like THE WHO, BLUE OYSTER CULT, LED ZEPPELIN, THIN LIZZY...
On Sunday March 8th @ 2:00 The Litter & Blackberry Way Records are hosting a celebration for the release of the new album “Future Of The Past” by The Litter @ Mancini’s 531 7th Street West St Paul 55102. We are not only celebrating the release of the record but also 60 years of Minnesota music. Come mingle with band members representing over 80 iconic Minnesota bands including members of The Trashmen, Badfinger, The Suicide Commandos and many more. Help us celebrate the great music made in Minnesota over the last 60 years. Michael Warre WEQY 104.7 FM will be spinning tracks & Mancini’s will provide appetizers.