Paul Westerberg and The Replacements
Paul Westerberg's latest release is Besterberg: Best of Paul Westerberg, which gathers some highlights of Westerberg's thirteen-year solo career and at long last gives Westy a chance to use a pun he has probably been wanting to use on an album for decades.
Westerberg's solo career has been a bit under-the-radar, which is not necessarily a bad thing. His song Dyslexic Heart attracted a fair bit of attention on the Singles soundtrack, which likely helped his first official solo album 14 Songs snare some buzz (The Replacements' All Shook Down was a Westerberg solo album, but the record company insisted it be released under the Replacements moniker). I really liked 14 Songs, enough so that I overplayed it and grew tired of it. I found his next album somehow too similar but I think the overplaying of 14 Songs made it too difficult for me to give it a fair chance. Some critics have been similarly harsh, not exactly trashing Westerberg, just finding themselves a bit underwhelmed by his solo work. However, last year's Folker garnered more attention, so perhaps the tide is turning.
Of course Westerberg is best known as the singer in the Replacements, a raucous, rebellious, messy, wildy talented, but sometimes just wildly drunk alternative rock/pop band that tore their way through the 80s (and touched upon the 70s and 90s). They had range, but a lot of the Mats' songs conveyed both an attitude that was both devil-may-care and angst-ridden, sometimes adding another layer -- a message, a romantic sweetness, loads of profanity. Some songs were sloppy and abrasive. Others were sloppy and awesome. A few were pop perfection.
The Replacements - I Will Dare (From Let It Be, 1984)
The Replacements - Left of the Dial (From Tim, 1985)
The Replacements - Can't Hardly Wait (From Pleased to Meet Me, 1987)
The Replacements - I'll Be You (From Don't Tell a Soul, 1989)