“Half-Assed, Will Travel” is what any new Replacements project should be called. And I say that about our heroes lovingly. These guys aren’t fresh from the basement. They’re more than competent song crafters and musicians who love nothing more than to shoot themselves in their collective foot (feet?). The Songs for Slim project was conceived as a fundraiser for former band mate Slim Dunlap, who suffered a crippling stroke in early 2012. Die-hard Replacements fans are the types who will buy anything the band shits out (don’t tell a soul, but I paid full price for the 2008 reissue of Don’t Tell a Soul) but this here record is for a good cause. So how does one judge the actual songs on this release? All are covers (so we don’t get any “real” new Replacements songs) and two of Dunlap’s originals. Frankly, they’re middle-of-the-road. It seems like Westerberg isn’t even trying to sing during the campy version of “Everything’s Coming up Roses” (or is that part of the joke? Cheeky, boys). The best song is “Radio Hook Word Hit.” All instruments are played by former Replacements drummer Chris Mars (who doesn’t play with the band on any of their occasional forays into the studio, usually just contributing backing vocals). This is the tightest song in the bunch, which I’d like to say again, is played by a retired musician. Mars also contributes cover art, which is interesting and all, but the pic doesn’t fit the project (giving it an early-’90s look). I don’t know what the future has in store for The Replacements. They played a few live shows in the summer of 2013 and reportedly recorded some more songs.
–Sal Lucci (New West, exclusive distro through Sony)