Tuesday, June 21, 2022

"I'll Be You" by The Replacements

Song#:  3857
Date:  04/08/1989
Debut:  93
Peak:  51
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Alternative Rock

Pop Bits:  This Minneapolis band was started in the late 70s by brothers Bob and Tommy Stinson. They filled out other roles in the band including Paul Westerberg as lead singer. The punk-leaning group first became Dogbreath and their undisciplined, raucous, booze-filled shows gained them a few fans and got them kicked out of a couple venues. Westerberg, the band's main songwriter, got the group settled long enough to record a demo that got them signed to the small indie label Twin/Tone. A debut album, Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash, would be issued in '81 to good reviews. An EP would come in '82 followed by their second LP Hootenanny in '83. Over the course of their recordings, the band's sound began to evolve out of punk into something more alt rock with Westerberg's writing becoming more nuanced. In '84, the band would record the album Let It Be. It would be critically lauded getting placed on a lot of "best of " lists. Despite that, the album failed to chart. A part of that was because Twin/Tone just didn't have the resources to get the band and the album out there. It was time for a move up the chain and so the band signed on with the Warner Bros. offshoot label Sire. Their first major label effort, '85's Tim, was another critical success that at least got them on the Pop Album chart at a minor #183. Before the band would record their next album, found Bob Stinson would leave (or was fired, depending on the story). The rest soldiered on and released '87's Pleased to Meet Me, which got to #131. The band's sound and Westerberg's writing continued to evolve and in '89 they released Don't Tell a Soul, which had a bit of a more mainstream approach. "I'll Be You" would be the first single and it became not only the band's first to make the charts, but their first to reach #1 Rock and #1 Modern Rock. The action there helped it cross over to the Pop chart where it nearly cracked the Top 50. It would end up being their only single to make the Pop chart. Two more album tracks would make the Rock and/or Modern Rock charts and that helped the album reach #57. It would be the band's peak moment of chart popularity.

ReduxReview:  As good as they were, The Replacements were not a band that were going to storm the Pop chart with hits. Their ruff 'n' tumble post-punk/alt rock sound just wasn't a fit for the format. In some cases, it wasn't even a fit for rock radio either. Despite that, the band should have had better promotion and albums like Let It Be and Tim should have sold a lot more. Being on a major label beginning with Tim, I'm sure there had to be a little pressure to think about a track or two that would be more radio ready. I think with Pleased to Meet Me, Westerberg gave it a go with the horn accented "Can't Hardly Wait," but it still didn't click in the way a tune from say R.E.M. might have. When it came time for Don't Tell a Soul, it seems that Westerberg was determined to get over that mainstream hump. The songs were more retrained with conventional hooks and the production was meaty. It paid off with "I'll Be You" hitting #1 on the rock charts and even doing well at Pop. The tune was a pretty good banger that was right in line with other alt rock hits of the day. It still wasn't destined for the Pop Top 10, but it was a good tune that helped lure in more fans.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) The band would record one more album, '90's All Shook Down. It would feature a pair of Modern Rock Top 10's including the #1 "Merry Go Round." The LP would get to #69 and earn the band a Grammy nomination for Best Alternative Music Album. By that point, Westerberg was fully in charge of the band and that led to another original member leaving. With that development, the band chose to dissolve. Westerberg would then go out on his own. His first two albums would make the Top 50. He would sporadically record albums over the years under his own name and the pseudonym of Grandpaboy.  2) The first song by The Replacements to make a chart was not one of their own and wasn't from one of their albums. In '87/'88, music producer and Saturday Night Live sketch music producer Hal Willner took on the task of assembling a tribute album to songs from Disney films. Various famous tunes from Disney features would be redone by contemporary artists. The final product, Stay Awake: Various Interpretations of Music from Vintage Disney Films would be released in '88 and featured artists like Bonnie Raitt, Los Lobos, Tom Waits, James Taylor, SinĂ©ad O'Connor, and Ringo Starr. Among the artists Willner tapped for the LP was The Replacements. They would do a version of the 101 Dalmatians tune "Cruella De Vil." That track would get radio airplay and end up making it to #11 on the Modern Rock chart. Stay Awake would be critically lauded and peak at #119.


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