Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tuesday Tuneage
The Replacements - "Can't Get Enough"

In Jim Walsh's oral history of the Replacements, All Over But The Shouting, Roscoe Shoemaker explains that he had taped a Replacements set at a small show in Oklahoma City in 1984. Shoemaker says there were twenty to thirty people at the show at that they yelled out requests that the Replacements honored. Somebody seized/stole the tape and it went on to become a released by Twin/Tone Records in 1984. (Full disclosure: In this book, I relate two anecdotes about seeing the band in 1984 and 1987.)

Available at first only on cassette titled The Shit Hits The Fans, and then later something of an urban legend - unavailable in the pre-Internet ages, rumored to be a bootleg, this Oklahoma City set went on to become known among Replacements faithful as the "'Mats get drunk and play cover" live album. I scored a copy off of eBay ten years ago or so, the seller claimed it was a CD, by which he meant that it was a CD-R with the album title written in a kinda-fancy font on the disc. No cover art, no liner notes. I think I paid ten bucks.

A close listen reveals that The Shit Hits The Fans isn't quite the "they play drunk covers" of legend. While undoubtably drunk, the Replacements first half of the recorded songs is a mixture of originals and straightforward covers of Lloyd Price, Robyn Hitchcock, and The Jackson 5. The songs of legend happen after they wind up their original song "Hear You Been To College" - a slow blues - and people in the crowd yell "play white music!", "Lynyrd Skynyrd!", and "play some rock you fucking pumpkins!" Or maybe it's "bumpkins", which might make more sense, sounds like "pumpkins" to me though. I'm convinced it's the ignorant demand to "play white music!" that pissed off Westerberg a little or maybe more and which prompted him to unleash the band through a string of classic rock covers like "Saturday Night Special", "Breakdown", "Misty Mountain Hop", and "Takin' Care Of Business." Most of these they fail to finish, and "Iron Man" actually starts out as "War Pigs" until Westerberg starts singing "Iron Man." Funny stuff, and damn fun to listen to, also, though probably only to diehard Replacements fans. It's not exactly the stuff you'd play to someone unfamiliar with the band to win them over.

The best of the covers is that of Bad Company's "Can't Get Enough", in which they blister through it straight-on and even convince themselves to pull off the guitar solo. That beats being able to stand up straight most nights.