Jim Walsh: The Replacements' debut album is 'the best American punk rock record of all time'

'Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash' deluxe album cover
The Replacements' 'Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash' deluxe album cover (Cover art)
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Forty isn't that old, right? Well, maybe it is when you're talking about an album that represents the youth of a given moment, as Jim Walsh describes Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash on its fortieth anniversary. Sorry Ma was the first album by the Replacements, four blue-collar boys who became Minneapolis rock royalty with several bumps along the way.

Rhino Records will reissue Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash for the second time this fall, stuffing 100 songs and demos, a full recording of a 1981 concert at the 7th St Entry, and liner notes by 'Mats biographer Bob Mehr into an $80 box set.

In the meantime, journalist/songwriter Jim Walsh joins Jill Riley on the Morning Show to celebrate what he calls "the best American punk rock record of all time."

Jill Riley: Today's a special day, especially for Minneapolis. It's the fortieth anniversary of the Replacements' Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash. The fortieth anniversary [of] the first record from Paul Westerberg, Bob and Tommy Stinson, and Chris Mars. And I thought, well, I need to get a Replacements expert on the line. So I have called up Jim Walsh, an award-winning author, journalist, writer, and songwriter from Minneapolis. He's the author of The Replacements: All Over But the Shouting: An Oral History and The Replacements: Waxed-Up Hair and Painted Shoes: The Photographic History. Good morning, Jim.

Jim Walsh: How you doin'?

Not bad. Happy fortieth anniversary of the first record from the Replacements. Can you believe it?

Amazing. I'm glad you guys are rocking it all morning, too. It's the best American punk rock record of all time.

Yeah, the moment was 1981. So that's the year that the record came out. But Jim, I wonder if you could kind of take us back to 1981, right around that time in Minneapolis. You were around here; I know that you were playing in a band as well. Can you kind of set the scene of what Minneapolis was like at the time, and as part of the scene, did you feel that something was bubbling at the time?

Absolutely. Twin Tone Records was leading the way. It's also really interesting to think about it pre-internet and pre-digital music age. Because it really was go to the record store; buy the records; and go to the club and hear it live. So that was the vibe. I mean, I always remember, when Sorry, Ma came out, I bought the vinyl and the cassette the same day, and I'll never forget driving down Lyndale Avenue listening to "Raised In The City" and just going, "Holy cow, here we go." Yeah, great, great record.

Well, it's the 40th anniversary of that great, great record: the Replacements' Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash. Now this deluxe reissue is coming out as a celebration of this anniversary, and it's coming up this October, and it's going to include a 27-track live concert, recorded January 23, 1981 at the 7th St Entry in Minneapolis. And Jim, if you could describe a Replacements concert in 1981 at the 7th St Entry, what were people in for?

The best band in the world. I mean, I was at that show — you know, tons more before and after — and the Replacements were a perfect example of just crazy alchemy. The chemistry of those four guys created something out of nothing.

Talking about the Replacements with Jim Walsh here on The Current Morning Show. And you know, it's almost hard for me, just knowing what I know of the legacy, to think about, yeah, they were practicing. And they took it seriously. And they were hard-working, likely because they came from hard working backgrounds. I mean, these were just four regular guys, right, that got together. But for a band that had this potential to rule the rock and roll world, it didn't pan out that way for them.

Well, we're talking about 'em today, you know, the reissues coming out. And I mean, [when] I wrote that book, the oral history, I thought they were pretty forgotten. I really did. They were my favorite band, the essential Minneapolis band.

Yeah, a band that [if] you bring [them] up in certain circles or with certain people, it's like I can see the stars in the fans' eyes, either reminiscing or just still enjoying the music of the Replacements. I'm talking with Jim Walsh, author of The Replacements: All Over But the Shouting: An Oral History. Also just a great photo collection — I do want to mention this one again. I just gave it to somebody as a gift: The Replacements: Waxed-Up Hair and Painted shoes: The Photographic History. So that was a good gift that I gave. So yeah, talking about the Replacements and Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash, the fortieth anniversary today. And Jim, I'll tell you this: I didn't grow up in Minneapolis. I grew up in central Minnesota. And I'm a little too young, obviously, to have been part of the beginning of the Replacements, but my way in was through the records Let It Be, Hootenanny, and Tim. But then to go back and listen to what really was a different-sounding band, but always had a great pop sensibility about them.

You know, that first single came out, "I'm In Trouble," and it was back — "If Only You Were Lonely." I think that was a smart thing for all involved, because it gave a little [unintelligble] for Paul to write from a tender heart, versus just all this punk rock that was blowing up around us. It was hardcore time, and all the West Coast and the East Coast punk hardcore fans were happening. A nascent noise scene in Minneapolis was starting. And "If Only You Were Lonely" was a country tune from a guy who's looking to go on a date. I mean, I just saw Paul the other day; we were in the same grocery store. And he introduced me to a friend. He said, "This is my old buddy Jim." You know, it all flashed before me in a second. Like, yeah, we were 19-year-old guys together, comparing notes on this new endeavor of writing a song. Both of us. Like, I remember the song titles when he'd say [them] to me at the bar. Like, "Blue Sixteen" or whatever it was. And it was very innocent. Of course, it was just new. We played a bunch of gigs together: REMs and the Replacements. We played high school dances and the Entry and the Longhorn and stuff together. You know, our drummer Rick Ness was 15, and our guitar player was 16. And for that first 'Mats show, we snuck him in the back door at the Longhorn. That was part of the time. Imagine that, you know, try to do that now. So it was wild. It was fun. It was free. It was cool.

Yeah. Well, you know, each generation has their golden moments, and [we're] certainly revisiting a golden time in Minneapolis, especially with the fortieth anniversary of the Replacements' Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash. Forty years ago. It was 1981 when this record came out. And you know what, Jim, since you mentioned "If Only You Were Lonely," I think we should go out on that note. I appreciate you talking with me this morning with me here on The Current's Morning Show.

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