I give some major kudos to Noel for checking out something I was very curious about but had yet to spend much time or money with: Rhino's reissues of the Replacements' catalog. Unlike Rykodisc's reissues from just a few years before, Rhino reissued all of the Mats' records, from Sorry Ma to All Shook Down, coupled with bonus tracks on each one. Sounds like a perfect jumping-in point for me, right? Well, I think otherwise.
The Replacements came onto my radar when one of the music critics at the Houston Chronicle praised them in a small write-up. Like how I got into a lot of the influential precursors to Nirvana, I collected information here and there through Rolling Stone and Guitar World articles, and the Trouser Press Guide to '90s Rock. There would be months, even years, before I would ever hear this stuff.
It seemed to me, while Paul Westerberg was putting out solo records on major labels in the 90s, higher praise went to his pre-major label releases with the Replacements, coupled with the first few for Sire. Keep in mind this was years before MP3s, and curiosity and imagination came almost exclusively from reading about music (for me at least). I couldn't simply ask my parents over which was better, Hootenanny or Let It Be. And I wasn't going to have any luck rummaging through a used CD store nearby. The only one that was close to my home didn't carry that stuff.
So there was quite a bit of excitement when Reprise put out All For Nothing/Nothing For All, the two-disc compilation of material from the Sire years. Along with Let It Be and Tim, this was it as far as the Replacements material I could find anywhere. While I've always liked this stuff, I've never been one whose life was eternally changed by the band. I've long figured that it was kind of those you-had-to-be-there-in-the-'80s-to-fully-understand-the-true-power-of-this-band things.
When Rykodisc reissued the band's first four albums a few years ago, I picked them up almost immediately without really hearing anything off of Sorry Ma, Stink, and Hootenanny. Just having remastered copies of the band's first four albums was enough for me. I didn't mind that there weren't any bonus unreleased tracks. This was a band that accidentally threw out safety masters of their records into a river in hopes that outtakes would never see the light out of day.
When Rhino announced plans to reissue the band's entire catalog with bonus tracks, I was rather miffed at the thought of buying Sorry Ma through Tim again (and Let It Be for the third time), so I held off. While I still have an interest in hearing Tim remastered and finally hearing Pleased to Meet Me in its entirety, I'm not so inclined to buy these records for their bonus tracks. While the wonderful "You're Getting Married" is included in the slew of bonus tracks, there are so many album cuts that I want to hear for the first time. Plus, the iTunes store was nice enough to sell each track, including the bonus material. I believe that will be my picking up point with the ongoing saga of the Replacements.