"I never travel far without a little Big Star"
With the departure of Bob Stinson from the band The Replacements slimmed down to a trio for Pleased to Meet Me and continued their journey from barely coherent punks to professional rock and roll band. To their credit they didn’t hide from this fact either, even making direct reference to it in the title and artwork for the album.
Perhaps feeling a little more free to acknowledge his influences Replacements frontman Paul Westerberg indulged his Big Star fixation further than he had previously, with a salute to Big Star frontman Alex Chilton in the song of the same name, to the delicate acoustic “Skyway”, which sounds for all the world like it’s a long forgotten number from Big Star’s early days, to a closing song which features Alex Chilton himself guesting on guitar. Throw in a tune which lounge around flirting with soft jazzy sounds and a generally more professional sounding approach, and Pleased to Meet Me becomes an exercise in not only attempting to gain further legitimacy, but demonstrating how far The Replacements had come from their rowdy basement band beginnings. Despite a reduction in personnel, the whole album just seems a measure more sophisticated than what they had released before.
The Replacements would continue to advance towards the mainstream over the next few years, but Pleased to Meet Me was pretty much the last time they showed any trace of their refreshingly amateurish beginnings. Catching The Replacements at a cross roads between their noisy roots to something altogether slicker and more mainstream, Pleased to Meet Me is among their most vital albums and one that continues to sound oddly contemporary. Much of that agelessness is down to the spare production and (the odd horn blast aside) no frills rock and roll approach. Sure, it perhaps sounded oddly out of step at the time of its release in 1987, but 28 years later, it’s aged better than at least 90% of the albums released that year.
Age has been uncommonly kind to the music of The Replacements, and really, who could have expected that?