It’s Friday night in Ramsgate. In the harbour, people are going about their usual Friday night business, drinking Belgian beers and eating tapas. On the other side of town, at the Ramsgate Music Hall, something far more unexpected is about to happen. Tommy Stinson is about to take the stage with his band Bash & Pop. For those still unaware, Tommy is a cult hero, possibly even a legend. Between the early 80s and 90s, he played bass with The Replacements, a garage rock/punk band who gained a devoted following and became influential to a future generation of musicians. He’s been a member of both Soul Asylum and Guns N’ Roses. In between those musical ventures, he’s put out a couple of great solo records and two releases with a largely overlooked band, the ironically named Perfect.
The Replacements broke up in 1991. During their lifetime, they became one of the world’s greatest cult bands, gaining a legion of loyal fans, the actor Matt Dillon among them. Following the split, bassist Tommy Stinson embarked on an interesting career, as frontman of his own bands Bash & Pop (whose sole album ‘Friday Night Is Killing Me’ an essential listen for ‘Mats devotees), and Perfect, maker of solo records and as a touring member of Soul Asylum. Rather unbelievably, he’s also been a member of Guns N’ Roses – an odd move, certainly, but one Stinson has previously claimed pays well. Guitarist/vocalist Paul Westerberg released a string of excellent solo recordings, some of a rather lo-fi persuasion, but always showing the songwriter’s gift for a lyric. In a move that pretty much no fans ever expected, Westerberg and Stinson reunited in 2012 as The Replacements, played their own live shows and appeared at festivals across the US.
In 2015, the even more unexpected occurred when The ’Mats announced gigs in the UK. For some fans this would be a great opportunity for revisiting their youth, but for many – and certainly for a huge part of the audience present at The Roundhouse on June 2nd – their first live experience of the band. A proper bucket list job.
With all of the in-depth reviews and other stuff on Real Gone, since it’s nearly Christmas, it’s time for a bit of fun.
Every day between the 1st and 24th of December, a new link will be posted here containing a clip. It may music, maybe not; it may be a classic you’ve seen a thousand times, it may be something you’ve never seen…it may not even be an official clip.
It’s just a handy way of rounding up a few of Real Gone’s favourites in a quick and unoriginal fashion. After the calendar is completed on Christmas Eve, the links will stay up for those who missed out.
…Will Bruce Springsteen will be bellowing festively somewhere?
Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson have reunited to record four new songs.
The former members of legendary punk/alt-rock band The Replacements last worked together on two new songs for the Replacements retrospective ‘Don’t You Know Who I Think I Was?’ in 2006. As with the previous reunion, drummer Chris Mars did not want to take part in this new project.
The four new songs will form a strictly limited 10″ vinyl EP, with a run of just 250 copies worldwide. Those copies will be auctioned to raise money for former Replacements guitarist Slim Dunlap who suffered a stroke earlier this year.
Songs featured on the EP are a cover of Dunlap’s own ‘Busted Up’ (featured on his solo album ‘The Old New Me’), the Hank Williams tune ‘Lost Highway’, Gordon Lightfoot’s ‘I’m Not Sayin’ and from the Broadway musical “Gypsy”, comes ‘Everything’s Coming Up Roses’.
Westerberg’s last solo release comprised a two song download ‘3oclockreep’ in 2008, but has not released a new full length album since ‘Folker’ in 2004.
Stinson’s last solo album ‘One Man Mustiny’ was released in 2011. Read a review here.
To those without a proper musical education, Tommy Stinson is the bassist with Guns N’ Roses. Everyone else will be aware of his cult legendary status as an ex-member of Minneapolis punk/alternative/college rock band The Replacements and live member of Soul Asylum. In addition, Stinson has recorded solo works and fronted a couple of cult bands. The Bash & Pop album ‘Friday Night Is Killing Me’ (released back in 1993) is essential listening, capturing Stinson’s post-Replacements brand of trashy rock at its finest.
There seems to be an unwritten rule for any musicians once associated with The Replacements, the rule being that most of their post-Replacements work contains a strong echo of that band (it’s even true for the four solo releases by drummer Chris Mars). Stinson’s second solo release, ‘One Man Mutiny’ is no different – and for longtime fans, does exactly what it says on the tin. Across ten songs, TS taps into a brand of rock which combines roots and Americana, but more often than not served up with a liberal bar-room swagger which would make Mick and Keef proud.
With its basic stomp and drawled vocals, ‘Don’t Deserve You’ comes across as particularly heavy handed (even for Stinson), but it’s given a timely lift by some top-notch lead work played in an angular fashion. Hardly Stinson’s finest hour, but it’s an improvement from then on. ‘It’s a Drag’ taps into Stinson’s beloved Rolling Stones fixation, with ‘Gimme Shelter’-esque rhythm guitars, aggressive slide and Stinson’s nasal vocals backed by female harmonies. This is why you’ve always loved Stinson, and although you’ve heard him churn out variants of this kind of thing time and again, it’s what you came looking for when you chose to check out ‘One Man Mutiny’. Since this kind of thing has been effective for Stinson for a couple of decades, there’s no reason for him to change.
With the almost wholly acoustic ‘Zero To Stupid’, Stinson taps into the psyche of former bandmate Paul Westerberg, with a sneering vocal across a country number which celebrates the inability to hold your drink. While the arrangement remains percussion-free throughout, an upfront bass does a great job at marking time, and while a few of the yodely vocals are a little unnecessary, the lapsteel accompaniment brings an element of class, albeit in a slightly inebriated style. The lapsteels carry over to ‘Match Made In Hell’, which is perkier all round thanks to some plinky-plunky ukulele sounds and glockenspiels. While Stinson doesn’t sound as at home here as he does churning out Stones homages, this is enjoyable enough, with his nasal voice well suited to the arrangement.
‘All This Way For Nothing’ also sounds different at first with a bouncy pop arrangement featuring prominent keys, though within a couple of bars, Stinson reverts to what he knows best: the slide guitars kick in and his drawling voice carries a rousing pop/rock number with a simple chorus. The hallmarks of a Replacements related recording are here in spades; if you’re a fan of that band and its various solo offshoots, this’ll grab you instantly. The jangling guitars which drive ‘Meant To Be’ and ‘Sieze The Moment’ are even further in keeping with the Replacements work circa ‘Don’t Tell A Soul’; even the vocal structures lends themselves to something which would have suited Paul Westerberg. You’ve heard it all before, so often in fact that no further elaboration needs be made; even so, in terms of well-rounded, well-written numbers, this pair represent ‘One Man Army’s real gems.
The title cut is a simple acoustic workout which was cut live in a hotel at 3am. After a false start, Stinson’s voice wavers as he stretches his voice and occasionally fudges lyrics as if they’re not quite complete. While not the best cut on the album, it’s raw, intimate nature brings the listener closer to the artist. Not a patch on Paul Westerberg’s similar work from his ‘Stereo’ disc, but it’s not without a certain rustic charm.
Although a little rootsier and more retrained than some of his previous works, Stinson is unlikely to win new converts with ‘One Man Army’. That said, it’s great that he’s returned to studio work and for his army of devoted followers, this release will be essential.