Reviews & suggestions for punk rock fans.

The Replacements’ EP Stink! – Music Suggestion

You Have to Hear The Replacements’ EP Stink!

The first time I heard the Replacements’ album Let It Be, I left it on repeat for weeks. Seriously, I couldn’t take my morning shower without starting it up. “Within Your Reach,” from their album Hootenanny, is one of my all-time-favorite songs. The love I had for their music encouraged me to check out their biography, Troubled Boys: The True Story of the Replacements, where I discovered the Replacements‘ EP Stink! or Kids Don’t Follow Plus Seven, an EP I don’t think anyone should skip over.

The Replacements

Before I dive into the EP Stink!, and to give those who don’t know a brief history about the Replacements, they started in Minneapolis, Minnesota back in 1979. At the beginning, you had guitarist and vocalist Paul Westerberg, Bob Stinson on guitar, bass guitarist Tommy Stinson, and drummer Chris Mars. Throughout the years, the band would evolve their style and become known for Westerberg’s lyrics, and kid bass prodigy, Tommy Stinson, who was only 11 when he started his music career. Yes, 11.

Stink! or Kids Don’t Follow Plus Seven

Now let’s talk about Stink!. Upon listening you will notice the album’s lyrics heavily repeat themselves. Paul Westerberg even said it himself:

Much of Stink! Was filled with reductive punk numbers: “I couldn’t write hardcore worth a sh*t,” admitted Westerberg, “but I certainly tried to sound as tough as I could.”

Trouble Boys: The True Story of the Replacements by Bob Mehr

Beyond the lyrics, Stink! was recorded in a short period of time as they were about to hit the road and needed some new material to carry along.

On a more positive note, Stink! is one of the best showcases for guitarist Bob Stinson in the Replacements discography. And, overall, why I love Stink! is it captures the essence of teen angst. That feeling of being told what to do, stuck, pushed around, and all you want to do is scream, “f**k you.”

Stink! Songs

Stink! starts out with “Kids Don’t Follow” which begins with a recording from one of their shows where a police officer is doing his best to get the kids to leave. The cop sounds like a camp counselor who no one respects trying to gather up the kids who are out of their bed. You hear a loud “HEY, F**K YOU, MANNN” from the crowd, then the cop says “the party’s been closed … the party is over with, grab your stuff and go, and nobody goes to jail” which immediately pushes the listener into the music. Hands down the best song on Stink!, “Kids Don’t Follow” establishes the pace for the entire EP. The non-stop bass line, killer guitar, and hard beat with the lyrics all about the ideology of going against the adults in the room. For a taste of the lyrics:

I need some attention
No house of detention
I’d love some attention
Won’t start again, oh!

Kids don’t need that, kids don’t want that
Kids don’t need nothing of the kind
Kids don’t follow what you’re doin’
In my face, out my ear
Kids won’t follow what you’re sayin’
We can’t hear

“Kids Don’t Follow” by the Replacements

Of course to follow up, and probably a song I would have blared in high school if I would have known about it is “F**k School.” More or less a continuation from the first song, “Kids Don’t Follow,” expressing the overall displeasure in mandatory education.

Then, you have “Stuck in the Middle,” a song about living in the mid-west which quite obviously points out:

Nothing on the left
Nothing on the right
Nothing on the left
Nothing on the right
Stuck in
Stuck in the middle
Stuck in
Stuck in the middle

“Stuck in the Middle” by the Replacements

The lyrics aren’t up to par from what you typically hear from the Replacements. However, the heavy bass throughout the entire song is hard to ignore, and I love the rawness of this song. You can hear Paul Westerberg’s voice go in and out. It’s not some over produced song with fake vocals, it’s the Replacements playing and screaming their heads off.

Next up would be “God Damn Job,” which never goes beyond stating “I need a job.” Paul Westerberg wrote this song in response to his father who, like most authority figures, hammered home to his dear son that it was “time to get a job.” Something I believe most of us can relate to whether it is the overbearing parent trying their best to force us to grow up, or the struggle to find an honest job. One that doesn’t necessarily eat at our soul and have us hitting the morning snooze button over and over again.

Mixing it up on the Stink! EP with a bluesy tone would be “White and Lazy.” The song opens with a harmonica playing and offers an easy beat throughout the entire song. Then, there is a complete breakdown around the 1:40 mark which one can’t help but bang their head to.

Track number six on the The Replacements‘ EP Stink! would be “Dope Smokin’ Moron.” Created to throw hate towards potheads, the song shines with the bass and guitar play especially around the 50 second mark where all you hear is the instruments. If there was one song on this EP that gets my blood boiling the most, it would be this song.

Slowing it down is “Go,” a taste of where the band will eventually try to head artistically. In classic 80s style, it is as if the guitar is whispering in the background under the vocals of Paul Westerberg, drums by Chris Mars, and bass line by Tommy Stinson.

And closing out, “Gimmie Noise” which is a jab at The Suburbs, a band who toured with the Replacements. I’ll leave it to Paul Westerberg to explain the rest:

“I was jealous of them, certainly,” said Westerberg. “But I could say a ton of nice stuff about the Suburbs. They tolerated us when they didn’t have to. They let us open and knock over their amps. We couldn’t outplay them, and they had a thousand people cheering and girls throwing underwear. It was like ‘What are we gonna do? We’ll be louder and ruder.’ That’s what that was about.”

Trouble Boys: The True Story of the Replacements by Bob Mehr

Overall

I mentioned quite a bit about the repetitiveness of the lyrics. It’s true, that’s where Stink! does lack. No matter, the EP is impressive to say the least, from the guitar playing by Bob Stinson to the absolutely joy ride it takes you on capturing those feelings we once had in our teenage years, and possibly still carry with us today.

I would be remorse if I didn’t mention that this is where the band really starts to turn creatively. Stink!, in particular, does sound punk if you are going by sound. To sum it up, Tommy Stinson said this:

“[Stink!] was about as close as it was going to get,” noted Tommy Stinson. “It wasn’t in the cards for us to be hardcore. It wasn’t like we could suddenly be that all the time. The inability of us ever being any one thing all the time was pretty evident early on.”

Trouble Boys: The True Story of the Replacements by Bob Mehr

Their next studio album after Stink! is Hootenanny which has massive range in both theme and sound. The opening song “Hootenanny” sounds as if they are all drunk, and then you have “Within Your Reach” an incredible love song that is as brilliant as it is sad. All of which shows how the Replacements evolve with each album or EP as their career progresses much like Tommy Stinson mentions above. If you want to know more about their career and music, I highly recommend Trouble Boys: The True Story of the Replacements by Bob Mehr.




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