August 10, 2006

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The Replacements, Don't You Know Who I Think I Was?: The Best of the Replacements
Sire/Reprise/Rhino, 2006

Though I usually ignore "Greatest Hits" compilation albums I had an ulterior motive with this one. Not only does The Replacements' career-chronicling Don't You Know Who I Think I Was? offer me a chance to write about one of the 1980s' greatest punk-rock bands, but this review also serves as a means to subvert Hippo readers unfamiliar with The 'Ments' legacy to the original "college rock" band. It's all part of my larger plan for world-wide domination, you see.

The Replacements were Weezer, Green Day and Wilco before any of those groups existed and their influence remains present in many of those bands' latest work. Singer/guitarist Paul Westerberg wrote sincere confessionals that tapped into underdog themes of loneliness, rejection and alienation. Don't You Know Who I Think I Was? chronologically maps the Replacements' dizzying journey from half-competent, hardcore teen drunks ("Shiftless When Idle," "Color Me Impressed,") to whole-hearted balladeers ("Unsatisfied," "Here Comes a Regular,") and early progenitors of what would later be known as "alternative rock" ("Alex Chilton," "Achin' to Be," and "Can't Hardly Wait").

The real enticement for die-hard Replacements fans are the two brand new songs, "Message to the Boys" and "Pool & Dive," recorded by a (slightly) reunited Westerberg and crew. While both songs sound as though the band never left, I don't know if either alone warrants purchasing Don't You Know. I'd still prefer to own all The Replacements' individual albums over this retrospective, but if ever you wanted a crash course in why these guys continue to garner respect from punk and indie-rock fans alike, this record offers just that. A-

— Adam Marletta


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