After a series of delays, the first four albums by Minneapolis rock legends the Replacements will finally be reissued Sept. 3 through Restless Records and Rykodisc. Originally released by Minneapolis independent label Twin/Tone, the new CD pressings of 1981’s “Sorry Ma, Forgot To Take Out the Trash,” 1982’s “Stink,” 1983’s “Hootenany,” and 1984’s “Let It Be” were digitally remastered by noted engineer Greg Calbi with frontman Paul Westerberg’s approval.
Although the reissues — which were originally slated for release in July 2001 but inexplicably delayed — house no bonus material or additional artwork, they do chronicle the Replacements’ steadfast gestation from punk upstarts to rock’n’roll heroes. “Sorry Ma…” and the “Stink” EP — recorded simultaneously but released a year apart — possess the raw energy that would define the band’s live shows throughout its 10-year run, while “Hootenany” captures the group reaching outside the confines of punk.
Westerberg, bassist Tommy Stinson, drummer Chris Mars, and lead guitarist Bob Stinson had found the perfect blend of snotty energy and melodic beauty by the October 1984 release of “Let It Be.” The set was the Replacements fourth and final album before exiting Twin/Tone for Warner Bros. subsidiary Sire and is regarded by most fans and critics as the band’s artistic peak.
Twin/Tone co-founder Peter Jesperson — who currently runs Los Angeles-based New West Records — reportedly has more than 70 hours of rarities that he hopes to use in the future for a comprehensive Replacements box set. Potential material for that project includes the band’s 1980 demo tape and outtakes from all four of the Twin/Tone discs, including “Let It Be”-era tunes such as “Who’s Gonna Take Us Alive” and “Temptation Eyes.”
That the reissues are seeing the light of day at all is noteworthy: Westerberg revealed to Billboard earlier this year that in the late ’80s, he and his bandmates threw what they thought were the master tapes for all of the albums into the Mississippi River after an ownership dispute.
“Hell, we probably threw half the [Twin/Tone labelmate] Suburbs’ records in there,” he said. “It was a frantic moment where Chris and I grabbed as many as we physically could, which was, between the two of us, about five. Tommy occupied the receptionist. And [guitarist] Slim [Dunlap] was in the car with the motor running. We were doing the only thing we thought we could do, which was to go and grab what we thought was ours and destroy it.”
Twin/Tone co-founder Paul Stark said what the Replacements actually tossed were not the band’s masters but rather safety copies — and a reel that contained some studio horseplay and tracks featuring Big Star’s Alex Chilton (a copy of that tape survived). Jesperson said some rough mixes and the multi-track of the song “Within Your Reach” may also have been lost.
As previously reported, Westerberg is on tour in support of his recent Vagrant album, “Stereo.” The trek hits Buffalo, N.Y., tomorrow (Aug. 1).