An excerpt from Jim Walsh's new book about the Replacements catches the band at a tipping point as it lurched toward national fame.
Editor's note: The Replacements were Minnesota's most fabled and star-crossed band. Leaders of the 1980s indie-rock revolution, they captured lightning in a bottle, then drained it to the dregs before calling it a night in '91. In an excerpt from the new oral history "The Replacements: All Over but the Shouting," insiders recall the band's 1984 breakthrough album:
Paul Stark, co-founder of Minneapolis-based Twin/Tone Records: I think everyone realized with "Let It Be" the band had a perfect chance to do something major. And I think Paul [Westerberg, the band's frontman] felt the pressure on him, and he did quite well with it.
Peter Jesperson, the band's manager: [Westerberg] called me saying he had just written the best song he'd ever written, he thought it was "a hit" and he wanted to record it immediately. I could hear the excitement in his voice and that got me excited. But I had to tell him that recording right then was probably not in the cards as "Hootenanny" [the band's third record] was done but not out yet. ... A week or two later the band was doing a show at Goofy's Upper Deck. About five or six songs into the set, I heard the opening chords to a song I'd never heard them do before. It was unusual for them, bouncy and instantly catchy, and I knew immediately that this was the song Paul had called about. And that was "I Will Dare."
Peter Buck, guitarist for R.E.M.: More people bring that up to me than anything else. And I mean way more than anything else: "You played on 'I Will Dare.' What was that like?"
Jesperson: We'd sold boatloads of the first R.E.M. single at Oarfolk [the Minneapolis record store, now Treehouse Records, that Jesperson ran then] and the band hung out there when they were in town, so we naturally became friends. Peter [Buck] was a record hound, like me, so we hit it off especially well. He was also a Replacements fan. The two bands did some touring together in the summer of '83 and the idea for Peter to play on a new song of Paul's was hatched then.
Buck: Paul sang "Color Me Impressed" with us [R.E.M.] at the Orpheum [Theater in Minneapolis], and I just remember him being really nervous. But it was the total hometown crowd, he was this local hero, and it was just great. Around then, the suggestion came up that I come to Minneapolis and help out. So I did, and I ended up playing [mandolin] on "I Will Dare."
Bob Stinson, the Replacements' lead guitarist, who died in 1995: I was not there when [Buck] did his overdub. ... If you listen close, there's another lead underneath it.
What I remember then was when we toured with [R.E.M.], and that's when we became friends. They did give us like beer and we'd wait until they'd go on stage and ... their dressing rooms -- there was no lock, boys. We ate all their food and drank their booze. They're like doing one of their real pretty hit songs and we're just sitting there drinking their booze. And they're playing in front of a thousand people. You can't stop and come and grab it from us. We really had mean fun with them.
Buck: The thing I remember most about Bob [Stinson] is that he didn't know the names of the songs. Paul would just say, "The fast one," or "The sorta fast one," or "The one that goes like this, Bob," and with the other guys he'd call out the [song] titles. But Bob would just rip into 'em. It was like this little thing they had between themselves.
Steve Fjelstad, recording engineer: They were a lot of fun to work with [on "Let It Be"]. Paul was more focused than the other guys, and that helped. Sometimes you'd be pushing bands, trying to get a little tension going, and with them it worked because if they got a little bit pissed off, they played harder.