The Replacements: For Sale: Live at Maxwell’s 1986

The Replacements
For Sale: Live at Maxwell’s 1986
(Rhino)
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

There are Replacements fans and there are Replacements fanatics.

In large part, the latter believe the band peaked in 1986 with Tim, their final studio statement with the original lineup (guitarist Bob Stinson was dismissed due to his erratic behavior later that year). This live double album, excavated from the Warner Brothers vaults, is for them.

It captures a professionally recorded (on 24 tracks) gig from the titular Hoboken, N.J. club on Feb. 4, 1986 towards the end of Stinson’s tenure. The 28 song, 83 minute set is a reasonable summation of the Replacements’ recorded career until that point with excerpts from all five of their releases. Not surprisingly, six of Tim’s 11 tracks are included since that was the new product. But as exprected, the show featured the usual mishmash of covers (“Nowhere Man,” “Black Diamond,” T.Rex’s “Baby Strange,” and perhaps most interestingly, a relatively serious reading of the sugary pop trifle “Hitchin’ a Ride”), fan favorites, obscurities and trashy throwaways (“Gary’s Got a Boner” anyone?). It even has a version of “Can’t Hardly Wait” which had yet to appear on an album.

The performance careens from tight, frantic and professional to shambling, erratic and wobbly … basically your typical Replacements show. In that respect, this is historically important since it finds the group at arguably their most incisive and edgy. Still, there are those who hold that Stinson’s replacement, Slim Dunlap brought much needed cohesion to the notoriously inconsistent outfit.

The Replacements may not have been a technically great live act, but they were, as their label boss Seymour Stein posits in the disc’s liner notes, never less than an “entertaining” one. This warts and all document reflects that attitude of punky, snotty abandon exemplified by a raucous closing “F**K School,” as well as possible, something that’s tough without actually being in the sweaty, beer soaked, highly charged club hearing the great “I Will Dare” played in its rawest form.

For those who feel Minneapolis’ Replacements should be on a shortlist of great American bands, this is for you. But even others who aren’t sure will get a whiff of what all the excitement was about after hearing them at their most exuberant, animated and boisterous, qualities this live recording revels in.