This isn't quite the Replacements reunion fans of the Minneapolis godfathers of alt-rock had been waiting for. The band, which quietly faded away around 1991 after a string of albums basically consisting of singer/guitarist Paul Westerberg solo material, lay dormant for years despite new generations discovering the underground garage punk genius of “The 'Mats'” heyday.
Fast forward to 2012, when former Replacements guitarist Slim Dunlap suffered a debilitating stroke. Original members Westerberg, bassist Tommy Stinson, and drummer Chris Mars came together to record these songs as a fundraiser for their friend, who most likely will need terminal at-home care.
Despite the somber impetus for recording a new music together, fans have much cause to love this set. The five-song EP is an all-covers affair in the typical, frayed, indie-agitation fashion that The Replacements embodied. Some of Slim Dunlap's solo cuts are covered, like a track called “Busted Up” from Slim's 1993 album “The Old New Me” – the cover here adding a bit more Dr. John-esque, New Orleans piano groove. “Radio Hook Word Hit,” from Dunlap's 1996 Jayhawks/Son Volt-sounding twang opus “Times Like This,” is given a blistering, noisy squelch.
Gordon Lightfoot's “I'm Not Sayin'” is more typical of Westerberg's solo output, landing somewhere among his mid-1990's “Eventually” period. Hank Williams' “Everything's Coming Up Roses,” from the Broadway musical “Gypsy,” is the trademark hard left turn we've come to expect from the boys.
Whether this EP leads to a more substantial reunion is anyone's guess, but five new tracks of Replacements snot-nerve are more than acceptable, served up with a heavy tip of the hat to an old friend.
Rating: W W W W