When asked in 2007 why the Replacements had yet to release a proper live album, bassist Tommy Stinson told his hometown newspaper, “There are no good Replacements live recordings.”
Rhino Records finally hopes to prove Stinson wrong. The Warner Bros.-affiliated reissue specialty label announced today the Oct. 6 release of “For Sale: Live at Maxwell’s 1986,” a 29-song, double-disc live album that captures Minneapolis’ most legendary band at a landmark Hoboken, N.J., rock club near the end of the run for the group’s original lineup with guitarist Bob Stinson. Not counting the questionably issued 1985 cassette bootleg “When the Sh—Hits the Fans” and the limited-edition 1989 EP “Inconcerated,” it will be the first live album in the Replacements’ discography.
And contrary to what Tommy and decades of highly sought-after low-quality bootlegs might suggest, it’s supposed to sound pretty damn good, too.
“It’s head and shoulders above all the other recordings in terms of fidelity,” said Bob Mehr, author of last year’s biography on the band, “Trouble Boys: The True Story of the Replacements,” who also helped produce the new collection. Not only is the audio quality supposed to be top-shelf, but the performance is reportedly an unusually solid one, too.
As Mehr put it, “There are 29 songs on it, and they actually finish them all.” Well, almost them all, he later added; apparently "Left of the Dial" and the cover of Sweet's "Fox on the Run" are somewhat truncated.
The tracklist includes nearly all the songs off the “Tim” album, which the band had just issued four months earlier, plus older staples including “I Will Dare,” “Color Me Impressed,” “F--- School” and “I’m in Trouble.” A few not-too-goofy cover songs also dot the collection, starting with Sweet’s “Fox on the Run,” followed by Kiss’ “Black Diamond,” T. Rex’s “Baby Strange,” U.K. rockers Vanity Fair's 1969 nugget "Hitchin' a Ride" (not to be confused with the 'Mats' own "Takin' a Ride") and the Beatles’ “Nowhere Man,” the latter of which would later be record by frontman Paul Westerberg for the 2001 soundtrack to “I Am Sam.”
As is explained in Mehr’s liner notes, the Feb. 4, 1986, show was the rare Replacements gig caught with a mobile recording studio. Label mogul Seymour Stein and other Sire/Warner Bros. staffers thought a live recording would help promote the hard-to-promote band to radio stations and other avenues. They picked Maxwell’s because it was small and the band had been playing there since its first East Coast tour in 1983. However, the recordings were shelved as Bob Stinson fell out of the lineup and the rest of the band barreled on into the making of the next ’Mats album, “Pleased to Meet Me.”
Mehr said one of the traits he most appreciated about the recording was how well you can hear both Stinson’s and Westerberg’s guitar work throughout the set, something often buried on all the amateur-made bootlegs.
“It really highlights how Bob and Paul played off each other, with each other and against each other,” he said, also praising the overall accessibility of the recordings. “It’s a pretty straight set, very energized and covers a lot of ground in terms of the band’s material.”
A good starting point, in other words. So will there be more material released from the archives after this? Mehr said there are other worthy recordings to consider, but since it took so long to get just this one proper live album out, “They obviously don’t want to overdo it.”
Pre-orders of “For Sale: Live at Maxwell’s 1986” are now available via Amazon and other retailers as two CDs ($19.98) or a double-LP vinyl set ($29.98). Here's the full tracklist:
"Color Me Impressed"
"Dose Of Thunder"
"Fox On The Run"
"Hold My Life"
"I Will Dare"
"Can't Hardly Wait"
"Tommy Gets His Tonsils Out"
"Takin' A Ride"
"Bastards Of Young"
"Kiss Me On The Bus"
"Johnny's Gonna Die"
"I'm In Trouble"
"Left Of The Dial"
"God Damn Job"
"Waitress In The Sky"
"Take Me Down To The Hospital"
"Gary's Got A Boner"
"If Only You Were Lonely"
"Hitchin' A Ride"