Happy Anniversary: The Replacements, Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash
34 years ago today, a rag-tag bunch of young punks from Minneapolis released their debut album, a rough and raucous affair that helped underline that there was more to the alt-rock scene (not that it was being called that at the time) than just the east coast and the west coast.
It's been documented a thousand times over at this point, but the origin story of the Replacements goes more or less like this: Bob Stinson, his little brother Tommy, and their new friend Chris Mars started a cover band called Dogbreath, and they found themselves a lead singer when a janitor named Paul Westerberg wandered by their rehearsal space and was invited by Mars, who already knew Westerberg, to swing by and jam with them. Eventually, Dogbreath changed their name to The Impediments and, not terribly long after that, to The Replacements. The rest, as they say, is history.
As for Sorry Ma, the origins of the album involve the 'Mats recording a demo tape and handing it to Peter Jesperson, manager of Minneapolis record store Oar Folkjokeopus, who'd also recently founded a record label called Twin/Tone. Westerberg had reportedly only been after a gig at a club where Jesperson worked as a DJ, but after listening to the tape, Jesperson called Westerberg and asked if the band wanted to do a single or an album. Fast forward slightly, and the Replacements have a deal with Twin/Tone, with Jesperson serving as their manager.
Sorry Ma took about six months to record, due to limited availability in the studio they'd selected, but when it finally saw release, it was acclaimed by critics - well, the ones in fanzines did, at least, but that's who really mattered to indie punk and hardcore bands back in the early '80s, anyway - and won the 'Mats a number of new fans. The album also featured the band's first single, “I'm in Trouble,” which has been described as Westerberg's “first truly good song,” a statement that even the band's greatest defenders would probably admit is probably not entirely untrue.
If you didn't discover the Replacements until after they signed to the Warner Brothers family, then the merits of Sorry Ma, Forgot the Take Out the Trash may be lost on you, but if you've found that to be the case, you might consider giving it another spin with the mindset that these were angry young men who had something to say and were having fun getting the chance to say it. In short, it's rock 'n' roll at its most raw, and that's something that's always worth celebrating.