Review: The Replacements – Let It Be (Reissue) [Twin Tone 1984/ Rhino 2008]
This is the story of Rock or, in other words, how to get the best with the least. Let it Be is one of the masterpieces of the 1980s as well as the clear demonstration of how it is possible to re-establish and regenerate 30 years of pop culture with nothing else but grit and instinct. Sure, here the ‘Mats compose and play as they never did before. However, don’t believe it was easy to throw into the indie underground scene artists such as Kiss (whose Black Diamond is possible to transform into an incredible urban western) or Ted Nugent (Gary’s Got a Boner takes its riff from his Cat Scratch Fever)
Some barriers were much higher in the past than they are today and it took a group of careless twenty-something to break them down using irony (I Will Dare, with the guitar of Peter Buck), joy (the incredible punk ’n’ roll crescendo of Seen your Video), alcoholic verve (the concise love declaration of Favorite Thing), loneliness (the one of the protagonist of Androgynous), depression (for the mortified adolescence of Sixteen Blue) and, why not, frustration (lavished copiously in the sad roaring of Unsatisfied).
The album is a passage from the shed or, if you want, a stripped declaration of love towards the music as irreplaceable partner for travelling or growing until the cathartic final weeping of Answering Machine, a grungy layer of electric guitar upon which Westerberg screams, “I get enough of that/Try to free a slave of ignorance/Try and teach a whore about romance/How do you say I miss you to an answering machine?/ How do you say good night to an answering machine?/How do you say I’m lonely to an answering machine?”, and that remains, as much yesterday as today, an emotional climax of unprecedented strength.
Only the faithful buyers of that time could know the thundering revisiting of T.Rex of 20th Century Boy (it came out as B-side of the EP of I Will Dare) that starts the half-dozen of bonus tracks that are here included. However, even them couldn’t imagine that, at that same time, the ‘Mats loved to overturn the sweet warmth of the 1970s Canadian meteor DeFranco Family (Heartbeat – It’s A Lovebeat) or the folk-rock created artificially by the producers/composers PF Sloan e Steve Barri in the second half of the 1960s for the Grass Roots (Temptation Eyes) by opportunely strengthened and sped up both sounds.
All is amusing and instructive, from a primitive and more aggressive version of Answering Machine to a Sixteen Blue practically identical to the original except for the singing that here is more folky and thoughtful compared to the barbaric standards of Westerberg.
Bonus-Tracks: 20th Century Boy Perfectly Lethal (outtake) // Temptation Eyes (outtake) // Answering Machine (solo home demo) // Heartbeat – It’s A Lovebeat (outtake – rough mix) // Sixteen Blue (outtake – alternate vocal)
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