Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Valentine/Drain You

So Tommy Stinson recently said this:
It may have been time, but the timing was less than ideal. The year the Replacements wandered off into the sunset, Nirvana dropped "Smells Like Teen Spirit," effectively ushering in the alternative-music revolution that would dominate rock culture in the '90s. It was the unlikely triumph of underground culture, and it's hard not to think the Replacements, having been key players, wouldn't have benefited somehow from that breakthrough. 
"I'll be honest with you," Stinson says. "I never really got the connection, to be frank. I didn't hear anything in Nirvana or any of the so-called grunge bands that had anything to do with us. I really didn't. In my mind, we were more a sort of rock and roll, sort of almost rootsy punk-rock kind of band. That stuff was more metal-leaning to me. Having people make a lot of to-do about them sounding like us or any connection, I think, was a bit of a misstep in the journalistic world. Aside from wearing flannel shirts."
Which just...

I mean.

Tommy. Tommy.

I love you, brother, I really do, as much as one guy who's never met another guy can love that second guy. But I'm going to say you're a mite too close to see what's pretty obvious. Which is that this, amongst many other things:

pretty clearly helped give birth to this:

Now, look. Don't get me wrong. I'm not going to say you guys are on the hook for a paternity suit or nothing. The breakdown, por ejemplo, pretty clearly owes way more to, say, early Led Zeppelin than it does vintage 'Mats (or even later LZ)—although if, Kurt Cobain's underrated guitar playing aside, Nirvana had had a Bob Stinson in the band, that breakdown might (would) have sounded mighty different. And I loves me some Chris Mars—one of the great drummers of the post-punk 80s, and a fine songwriter in his own right—but he ain't no Dave Grohl: them's some bigass drums being played on this song, sounding (as always) far more like John Bonham than someone from Sonic Youth or Hüsker Dü or R.E.M. or, yes, the Replacements.

But the drum part itself? That could have been written by one Christopher Mars. The melody? Paul Westerberg, without question. The bass? Well, okay, that doesn't sound much like Tommy Stinson, I'll grant you, although Grohl's harmony vocals kinda do; Tommy was and is a great bassist, but Krist Novoselic—one of the most important and most unheralded bassists in history, Iggy Pop perceptively aside—doesn't seem to have been much influenced by him, at least to my ears. Even Cobain's voice has that Westerbergian ability to be sweetly vulnerable one minute and then gravelly and rock as all get out the next second.

Sure, Nirvana was heavier, although much of that was simply that they were of their time as the Replacements were of theirs. But the basic DNA underpinning each band? It might be too much to say they were twin brothers of different mothers...and then again, it really might not be.

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