Last December, Peter Jesperson, the music executive who signed and managed the Replacements, paid a visit to the band’s former guitarist Slim Dunlap, who’s been partially paralyzed following a right-side brain stroke in February 2012.
Jesperson was there to play Dunlap a handful of early tracks from the Songs for Slim project, for which acts like the reunited Replacements, Steve Earle and Lucinda Williams recorded covers of Dunlap’s music to help pay for the guitarist’s ongoing medical bills.
“The look in his eye when I was playing him the songs and him hearing all these people singing these songs he’d written that didn’t sell great numbers on his own records … he was very moved,” recalls Jesperson, who’s spearheading Songs for Slim and serves as VP of production and catalog at New West Records.
In January, 250 signed copies of a five-song, 10-inch vinyl covers EP recorded by Replacements members Paul Westerberg, Tommy Stinson and Chris Mars — touted as the first new Replacements release since 1990’s “All Shook Down” — raised more than $106,000 through eBay. The EP was released digitally March 5, and a deluxe 12-inch is due April 16.
“We haven’t done the ‘comeback record’ thing yet, so I knew there would be a heightened amount of curiosity, at the very least,” bassist Stinson says. “It’s just great to have had such a good time doing something that ultimately will greatly help a family friend through some tough times.”
Stinson says the recording process wasn’t much different from past sessions with the Replacements. The experience was “a lot more like early Replacements, as there was no over dubbing,” the bassist says. “It was mostly recorded live, save for ‘Busted Up,’ which I did a small edit on and extra background vocals.”
The recent Replacements reunion begs the question of whether the band will record further material in the future. “We don’t plan for anything. We will always play together in some fashion,” Stinson says. “I’m gonna book studio time and see who wants to come play when I go in April. We’ll see.”
Meanwhile, on the 15th of each month, Songs for Slim will hold eBay auctions of limited-edition split 7-inches from numerous other artists, including Jakob Dylan, Joe Henry, Frank Black and the Jayhawks. All proceeds will be given to Dunlap. The series is administered by New West Records, with assistance from Motivation Music Management and Manifest Destiny Music.
“Nobody knows if he’s going to get a little better or a lot better,” Jesperson says, “but I believe miracles can happen in some of these situations.”