“Alex Chilton” by The Replacements (1987)

I discovered Alex Chilton and The Replacements at roughly the same time. Early-mid ‘90s, late adolescence, reading a lot of Spin Magazine. I knew the names, anyway.

I didn’t actually start checking out the music until a decade or so later. I picked up Let It Be, then a Replacements anthology (the double CD one. I forget the name. I also don’t have it anymore.) I wasn’t terribly impressed, even though it didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the Goo Goo Dolls songs I loved were heavily indebted to Paul Westerberg and his crew.

My friend and fellow former Popdose scribe Robert Cass intro’ed me to Big Star by sending me the files for #1 Record and Radio City. I liked the albums enough that I wound up buying them on CD, but, again there wasn’t a feeling of “I need this music in my life.” It was more like “okay, I get why other people like them so much.” I was gifted the Big Star box set, then bought the collection of Chilton rarities that came out 6 or 7 years ago. Still, nice stuff. Still didn’t stick.

So here we are, and my favorite Chilton-related song is one that just mentions his name and he appears nowhere on otherwise. And although I’ve warmed slightly more to The Replacements, this is my favorite song of theirs. It’s also (to my ears) their catchiest.

NOT QUITE FIVE STARS…

“Air” by Ben Folds Five (1998): From the God-Awful Godzilla movie with Matthew Broderick. This piano-ballad-on-steroids about a downed fighter pilot deserved much better. Although, truth be told, that soundtrack kinda kicks. Well, minus that Puff Daddy/Jimmy Page abomination.

“The Air That I Breathe (Reprise)” by Simply Red (1997): More Puffy? Sure. This time, he sicced his Bad Boy Hitmen on Mick Hucknall. Imagine this, if you will: a Simply Red remake of the Hollies’ easy listening staple, sampling a healthy portion of John Cougar Mellencamp’s “Jack & Diane” (a year or so before Jessica Simpson’s people got a hold of it.) And even more, it’s good! Say what you want about Mick, but he doesn’t half-ass a vocal ever.

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