The Replacements

This Replacements box set is a holy grail for fans, a hidden gem for newbs

A classic debut album, 67 unreleased songs (!) and an amazing live show make up the latest collection from a band that ought to be a household name.

I just finished watching the exhaustive eight-hour Peter Jackson Beatles doc Get Back, but don’t get your panties in a twist as I’m not going to throw the gazillionth review on the already massive heap. Just hear me out, Chuckles. 

For those who aren’t fans of the Fab Four, you probably switched off the telly long before Macca knocked back his first cuppa. For those of us who truly love the band (guilty AF), the series polarized fans who fell into two distinct camps. The first camp is the pearl-clutching set who don’t want to taint their memory and see how the sausage is made as the Fab Four limp through 20 takes of “Get Back.” I fell firmly in the second camp that was captivated watching the band plod through numerous takes until they created pure gold, and I immersed and gorged myself in every iota, no matter how banal. Hey Jackson, get off your hairy ass and give us the 20-hour director’s cut fer chrissakes!

Perhaps this long-winded and somewhat misaligned intro would’ve been better suited for the upcoming deluxe box set for Let It Be (get it!!??), but like Jackson’s film, the recently released Replacements box set for their glorious debut album Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash hovers like a glorious hangover trying to sort out the previous night of debauchery. Continuing in the fashion of Replacements collections that started with the fairly crappy Don’t Tell a Soul (2019) (titled Dead Man’s Pop) box set and followed by the incredible Pleased to Meet Me (2020) box set, this a perfect piece of the puzzle. Initially I felt a tinge of trepidation as I found the original 1981 version of the record was truly the last word but — wrong ’em boyo!!!

The Replacements, Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash box set

These four CDs are absolutely stacked to the rafters with all the good shit you NEED! There are 67 unreleased songs (!) culled from home demos and basement tapes and a live show that is the real jewel here. Obviously you already have the record loaded with Heartbreakers/Stones tales of teen angst in “I Hate Music,” “Customer,” “Johnny’s Gonna Die” etc, but it’s unreleased blasters like “Don’t Turn Me Down,” “We’ll Get Drunk” and the utterly sublime — and dare I say one of singer/songwriter Paul Westerberg’s greatest moments (previously relegated to a B-side!) — “If Only You Were Lonely.” True, a lot of the source material is taken from cassettes past their prime, but once your ears acclimatize to the hiss and warble, this is goosebump-inducing. The included vinyl boasting the alternate version of Sorry Ma… was well intended but a bit superfluous and will likely remain in its sleeve. The massive booklet and oral retrospective, however, once again penned by Replacements know-it-all Bob Mehr, is a holy grail of info and unpublished photos. 

The real reason you want this deluxe box set is for the fourth live CD featuring the band firing on all cylinders at the sacred 7th St. Entry in Minneapolis just before recording the album. This is where it all comes into focus because these early blasters were written to be performed on tiny stages littered with broken glass and cigarette butts, and the band crushes on “Shut Up,” “Raised in the City” and “Shiftless When Idle” and never lets off the gas. Long before Westerberg would blossom into a serious songwriter, the band members all hold their own here and show proof that their days of being a truly great American rock ’n’ roll band were just around the corner.

Current Obsession: The Replacements, Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash box set

This column was originally published in the December issue of Cult MTL.

For more about the Replacements box set, please visit the Rhino Records website.

See previous editions of Hammer of the Mods here.