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The Replacements was a band whose punk roots and hard rock-based albums held it back from reaching the American mainstream, but when “Pleased To Meet Me” was released in 1987, the band had finally achieved the critical acclaim it was looking for. Without guitarist Bob Stinson as an active member of the band, The Replacements created more accessible American rock music that the average man could relate to.
“Pleased To Meet Me” is The Replacements’ most enduring album, with a legacy that spans across rock and roll even today. Paul Westerberg’s lyrics on this album are his best to date, showing growth from “Tim and Let It Be,” focusing on issues deeper and more personal. The album is the perfect mix of power pop, emotional balladry and hard-driving rock and roll, and has established The Replacements as one of the most developed and timeless alternative bands of all time.
The song “Skyway,” written by Westerberg, is a 12-string guitar ballad that deals with a love that Westerberg could never achieve. Beautifully crafted, the song speaks of a protagonist who hopes to meet a love who takes the skyway, but never meets her because he is stuck taking the bus. Even when he finally gets on the skyway, he sees her taking the bus. It’s then that he realizes the love was never meant to be. The lyrics and guitar progression show the band’s evolution from punk rock songs to more emotional and passionate ballads, and ties in perfectly with the rest of the album, keeping the listener guessing what type of song will appear next. Even songs like “The Ledge,” which is the most haunting song on the album, are still able to complement others like “Skyway” because of the overall mood of the album as a whole.
The main singles on the album, “Alex Chilton” and “Can’t Hardly Wait,” are rock-pop hits that are as impactful as they are exciting. “Alex Chilton” shows a deep appreciation for Big Star and The Box Tops, both of which were bands musician Alex Chilton was part of. On “Pleased To Meet Me,” the band achieves a connection with the listener that it was unable to fully accomplish on prior albums. The level of sincerity in all of the songs on the album is what sets it apart from all of the band’s previous efforts.
The band was never been better than when it made “Pleased To Meet Me,” and the fact that The Replacements never achieved commercial success with its release is an enduring enigma. Although it may feel like for some that it was all for nothing and nothing for all, those of us who have listened to The Replacements and fully appreciate the band’s influence and sound know it’s something special.
My verdict: Five out of five stars