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Album Review: The Replacements - Live At Maxwell's 1986

If you know me personally at all then you ought to know that The Replacements are one of my my all time favourite bands. Yes, you don’t need to mention the irony that my favourite band stopped making new music one year before I was even born, I am perfectly aware. However, ever since I first heard them, I have had an affinity for their music.  I remember picking up the album Tim for the first time and I was blown away by their sound. Something so raw and, for lack of a better term, un-perfect in their sound drew me to them. It was instant love and still to this day there hasn’t been another band that makes me feel the way The Mats (look it up) do. Ever since I made that purchase I have made it a personal mission to get everything they ever recorded. As I’m sure many others already do. I have their records, the remastered CD’s, cassettes and much more. Still to this day I don’t think I have everything but I’m close. I even had the opportunity to see them live on their “reunion” tour in 2015, which was a night I will never forget. So, when I heard of a new live album from 1986 you could bet your last penny that I was going to get it.

For Sale: Live At Maxwell’s 1986 to give the full title, is the latest in The Replacements catalogue to be released and it’s probably the best sounding live recording of the band in this time period. The concert in question is being held right at the end of the band’s original lineup phase, 4th February 2986, Before lead guitarist, Bob Stinson, left the band. It really does sound immaculate. Of all the live recordings I have of the band from the original line up days, namely The Shit Hits The Fans from 1985, this one sounds the best and sounds like it’s captured the band at their finest. With them actually finishing songs on the setlist, the audio quality not churning up and the band sound tighter than they have on a lot of the past recordings. The first disc is a high octane rush of hits, like Color Me Impressed, Unsatisfied, and Kiss Me On The Bus. In all it’s a great mix of the first few albums. Including, what would be, a future Replacements classic in Can’t Hardly Wait, this sound would be officially released on the 1987 album, Pleased to Meet Me. Ending the first disc is their cover of Kiss’ Black Diamond. Which they released themselves on Let It Be, and to me is the more recognisable version of the song.

This live album really captures the feeling of an actual concert with the audience being audible and you can hear random people shouting between the songs. Also it doesn’t feel all the seemless with the band tweaking their sound and tuning their instruments between set, it really feels like a lot of the basement gig that I have been to. Every moment of the gig feels well captured, again not being born at the time of this concert, I couldn’t give a full detailed analysis or gig breakdown. Yet, just on my experience of this band and going to gigs in general, it all feels right. Starting out the second disc I was really taken off guard. It’s a better recorded version of Johnny’s Gonna Die that what was on the album. Really, it sound absolutely fabulous and is played with so much heart. I have to say everything about this live album is simply fantastic. The second disc packs a hefty punch as well with massive tunes like: Left of the Dial, I’m In Trouble, Answering Machine and their cover of the John Lennon hit Nowhere Man. If I could time travel back and just be at this concert, believe me I would, just to experience this set live must have been something.

I get it, my opinion may be moot in comparison to other music critics who were probably around when The Replacements were making it in the music world. I will say this, as a long time fan of the band, as someone who has all of their music and has travelled to see them live and as someone who holds their music in such high-regard. This album is worth getting. Just to her a part of music history and to hear The Replacements sound this good in their original form. To hear these songs played with passion and vigour without mistakes or them cutting the songs short. To hear the fans roar and sing-along with the band. It really is worth a listen, this is the Replacements in all of their splendour.