The Replacements, scruffy quartet that they were, may very well be the definitive American rock and roll band. From the garages of the suburbs of Minneapolis, possessing a youthful energy rather than any technical proficiency, and a collective ambition which seemingly stretched no further than avoiding the dead-end jobs that the majority of their classmates had found themselves in, The Replacements could have been any garage band from any large city in the USA, and in some ways, that was the beauty of them, particularly in their early days. If The Replacements could get it together to get signed to a label and release an album, than hell, any noisy four piece rock act could, which in a roundabout way probably makes The Replacements one of the most inspirational rock bands in the history of popular song.
The Replacements 1981 debut album, Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash, is a liberating post-punk thrash dealing with subjects that kids from the arse-end of anywhere can relate to. Peer pressure, disapproving parents and a disinterested populace are all dealt with a sneer, the garbled snarl of Paul Westerberg’s vocals, discordant guitars and the unmistakable insolent rage of disenfranchised kids everywhere. Sure, the vast majority of those that were teenagers on the album’s initial release in 1981 have grown and matured beyond its myopic world view, however anyone that has subsequently gone through their moody teen years will have found much to relate to during Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash’s run time.
Perhaps that is the genius of Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash, and the first phase of The Replacements’ career. In tapping into directionless teenage frustration, they created an album which proved oddly timeless in its themes and attitudes. There will always be sullen, disenfranchised teens, and therefore there will always be groups of those teens gathering in basements, garages and cellars putting their frustrations to hastily written lyrics, badly tuned guitars, and thrashed out rhythms. Every rock and roll act that has subsequently voiced teenage frustration owes a debt to The Replacements, whether they realise it or not.