The Replacements: Hootenanny

ON THIS DATE (29 YEARS AGO)
April 29, 1983 – The Replacements: Hootenanny is released.
# ALL THINGS MUSIC PLUS+ 5/5
# allmusic 4.5/5
Hootenanny is the second album by The Replacements, released on this date in 1983.  It was recorded from October 1982 to January 1983 at Blackberry Way Studios, and at Stark/Mudge Mobile Unit warehouse, Roseville, Minnesota (or as the liner notes put it, “at a warehouse in some godawful suburb north of Mpls.”) The cover art was a homage to the 1963 Crestview Records compilation album “Hootenanny”, which chronicled several prominent folk artists of the time.
It’s perhaps fitting that the cover art for Replacements’s finest moment as a fully established studio outfit replicates an old folk compilation, since Hootenanny derives most of its drive from gleefully deconstructing good ol’ fashioned rock & roll (a theme reiterated during “Mr. Whirly,” their sort-of-rendition of the Beatles’ “Oh Darling”). While Hootenanny is largely a gas and a goof, the pop panache buried beneath all the booze and post-adolescent bedlam is evident on the tight, catchy barnburner “Color Me Impressed” and Paul Westerberg’s almost romantic lo-fi distortion ballad “Within Your Reach,” which was later featured in the film Say Anything.  It’s this mix of songwriting maturity and snotty sarcasm that solidifies Hootenanny as an early classic in the Replacement’s canon, and makes their uncensored amateurishness at the time–moments of in-studio chatter and almost pointless anti-jams like the surfy “Buck Hill”– endearing and permissible. Rhino’s superlative reissue includes informative liner notes from Twin/Tone co-founder Peter Jesperson, who also produced this new edition. Bassist Tommy Stinson himself helps mix the invigorating alternates and rough takes of tracks like “Ain’t No Crime” and “Lovelines.”
REVIEW
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine, allmusic
Hootenanny is the place where the Replacements began to branch out from the breakneck punk that characterized their first two records — which isn’t quite the same thing as growing up, however. The brilliant thing about Hootenanny is that it teeters at the brink of maturity but never makes the dive into that deep pool. Paul Westerberg nevertheless dips a toe into those murky waters with “Color Me Impressed,” as good an angst-ridden rocker as he would ever write, and the heartbroken “Within Your Reach,” which presented a break from the Replacements’ past in its slower tempo, driven by a stiff yet sad drum loop, and its vulnerability. Not long after this, Westerberg’s vulnerability would become central to the ‘Mats, although here he’s keeping it way in check, but Hootenanny has something better to offer than a collection of soul-searching ballads: it offers the manic, reckless spirit so key to the Replacements’ legend. All the myths of the Replacements at their peak speak to how it seemed like anything could happen at one of their shows, how Bob Stinson could blow out his amplifiers, how Westerberg would stumble through impromptu kitsch covers, how it could seem like the band would never make it to the end of the show. Well, Hootenanny is the only record of theirs where it seems like they may not make it to the end of the album, so ragged and reckless it is. It lurches to life with the folk piss-take “Hootenanny” before spinning out of control with “Run It,” a piece of faux-core harder and funnier than anything on Stink. Hootenanny continues to bounce from extreme to extreme, stopping for a Beatles parody on “Mr. Whirly” and the instrumental “Buck Hill” before Westerberg reads out personal ads on “Lovelines.” Almost all of the album’s 12 songs could be seen as slight on their own merits, but the whole is greater than its individual parts, not just in how it is a breathless good time, but how this album offers a messy break from American punk traditions, ushering in an era of irony and self-deprecation that came to define much of American underground rock in the next decade. Nowhere is the Replacements’ influence clearer than on Hootenanny, and although they made better records, no other one captures what the band was all about better than this.
TRACKS:
All songs written and composed by Paul Westerberg, except where noted.
Side one
1.            “Hootenanny” (Westerberg, B. Stinson, T. Stinson, C, Mars)  1:52
2.            “Run It” (Westerberg, Mars) 1:11
3.            “Color Me Impressed”  2:25
4.            “Willpower” 4:22
5.            “Take Me Down to the Hospital” 3:47
6.            “Mr. Whirly” (Westerberg, Stinson, Stinson, Mars) 1:53
Side two
1.            “Within Your Reach” 4:24
2.            “Buck Hill” (Westerberg, T. Stinson, Mars) 2:09
3.            “Lovelines” 2:01
4.            “You Lose” (Westerberg, Stinson, Stinson, Mars)1:41
5.            “Hayday” 2:06
6.            “Treatment Bound” 3:16
Deluxe edition bonus tracks
13.          “Lookin’ for Ya” (From Trackin’ up the North, 1982) 1:57
14.          “Junior’s Got a Gun” (rough mix) 2:08
15.          “Ain’t No Crime” 1:15
16.          “Johnny Fast” (rough mix) 2:28
17.          “Treatment Bound” (alternate version) 3:15
18.          “Lovelines” (alternate vocal) 2:05
19.          “Bad Worker” (demo) 4:14
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