The Replacements Documentary "Color Me Obsessed" Now Streaming on YouTube!

I figured it was worth mentioning that the Replacement documentary "Color Me Obsessed" is streaming on YouTube in its entirety. I'd heard a few die-hard Mats fans dismiss the documentary as being nothing more than a bunch of fat white folks talking about the band. Due to budgetary limitations, the film doesn't include any Replacements music or footage, which is admittedly a deal-breaker for most, but I'm geeky enough to think that a film comprised of "people who were there" talking about what the band meant to them can't be all bad.

Maybe this is the wrong time to divulge this information - before the actual article has even begun - but my favorite Replacements record is Don't Tell A Soul. Oddly enough, many people whose opinion I had once respected think that album is their worst. I'm sorry, but those people are wrong. Dead wrong. It's a great album.

I remember the exact moment I fell in love with the Replacements. It was during the summer of 1986. I had wrecked my car a few months prior and was forced to take a gig as a resident camp counselor over the summer. I joined the staff about halfway through the season and found myself living in a cabin with a bunch of ten-year-olds.

At night, as our campers slept, we counselors would gather at a nearby lake access and drink ourselves silly.

I ended up bonding with three other counselors who had all joined the staff late in the season. We dubbed ourselves The Replacements and, coincidentally enough, Tim became our soundtrack. Once every couple days, we'd mic up a boom box and blast "Bastards Of Young" over the camp P.A. to wake up the campers.

What we had fully intended as an annoyance of sorts quickly became an accepted part of the summer's festivities. It got to be so that if we didn't play a Replacements song at every available opportunity, people would think something was wrong. Kids would come up to me and ask me who that band was we were always playing. Fellow counselors would ask to borrow my cassette to listen to down by the lake while their kids went for a swim. At the season-end talent show, a twelve-year-old girl played "Here Comes A Regular" on acoustic guitar. It was awesome.

And then summer ended and we all seemed to scatter like rats jumping a sinking ship. I lost touch with everyone and I soon found myself attending school in Chicago. I found myself in a dorm wing where everybody knew about The Replacements, even the dumb jocks who, where I came from, had always dismissed The Replacements as "fags".

By showing up with a cassette case of Replacements albums, I was immediately accepted into this strange world of misfits. We had book nerds, frat boys, tech geeks and metal heads all co-existing in a near-forgotten wing of a ramshackle dormitory on the campus of DePaul University and the only thing we really had in common was a love for the Mats.

Thing is, we really liked The Replacements the more they dipped their toes in the mainstream, so to speak.  When Pleased To Meet Me Came Out, every last one of us waited in line for the record store to open and each bought a copy for ourselves. We all rushed back to the dorm, split off to our rooms, and listened to the new Mats album. The fact that we instinctively felt the need to do so on our own says a lot about how personnel the music of The Replacements was to us.

At one point, I got up to use the bathroom at the end of the hall and, as I walked past the five other rooms in our wing, I could hear the same album coming out of every room. We normally kept all doors open and wandered freely in and out of everyone else's rooms so when people from elsewhere in the dorm wandered by, they didn't quite know what to make of it. "Did somebody die?" one of them asked.

About an hour later, we all started to emerge to compare notes. It was unanimous, the Mats had delivered a stone-cold classic. They'd made an album that was so totally them, but at the same time, so totally NOT them. While the band themselves were about as non-commercial as you could get, this album was a stab at commercial success, albeit in a parallel universe. There was just no way in hell the masses of this world would ever go for an album this brilliant. So, in that respect, we knew that they'd remain our secret, for the most part.

Sure, we might have to invite a few more members into the Mats Appreciation Society, but we wouldn't be overrun by fair-weather fans like those hopping on the R.E.M. bandwagon. The Replacements' bandwagon was never all that crowded, but all of the people on it were cool, and on it for the long haul, Even those who felt that the band had peaked with Let it Be stuck by the band through such changes as Bob getting kicked out, the fact that there were "fucking horns" on the album, and that the same guys who'd given the world "Gary's Got A Boner" were the same band to give us "Skyway".

I saw the band for the first time during the tour to promote Pleased To Meet Me and they played it pretty straight. It was obvious that trying to be on their best behavior was killing them, yet they were willing to give it a try. That Pleased To Meet Me wasn't a huge hit is no fault of the band, but instead falls on the shoulders of Sire/Warner Brothers', who failed to promote the band effectively.

In listening to the album today, it still sounds freakin' amazing, but I can see why it wasn't a hit. It came out too soon. To my ears, it's got the same danger as GNR's Appetite For Destruction, which would linger on store shelves s solid year before MTV started playing the "Sweet Child" video, which, of course, slowly opened our eyes to the rest of the material on that album. It took that ballad, though, to make GNR palatable to the masses, thus enabling them to then hit them with the more subversive "Welcome To The Jungle" and "Paradise City".

If Pleased To Meet Me had come out after "Appetite", I honestly think the Replacements could have struck similar success. Mind you, I still can't imagine "I.O.U", "The Ledge" or "Can't Hardly Wait" get playing during football games, but I digress.

I was working in a record store when Don't Tell A Soul came out and I remember the album moving a lot of units considering this was fucking South Bend, Indiana. Hell, every time I turned on MTV, I either saw "Sweet Child" or "I'll Be You". Needless to say, it was a good time to be watching MTV, for once. I agree totally with David Minehan of The Neighborhoods, who shares a fondness for sell-out records by left-of-center bands like The Replacements and, as a result, considers Don't Tell A Soul to be his favorite.

The album was probably their darkest record, lyrically, but it's also the most musically varied. Every song was its own universe, completely separate from the songs on either side of it on the record. I didn't care that they were no longer the rag-tag misfits they'd been just a few years prior. I didn't care that they were trying to score a hit record. And I surely didn't care that they had let down the punk community with Don't Tell A Soul. You don't sign to freakin' Sire Records for any other reason than to make it big, let's face it.

Why were The Replacements getting such flack? Did they not have the right to be as big as Van Halen?

Sadly, in my opinion, the commercial failure of that album killed the band. They'd tried to "play ball" with the major label suits and all it had done, near as they could tell, was piss off their existing fan base.

When they released All Shook Down a couple years later, all I heard was a fractured band trying to honor a contractual obligation. Chris was gone, Paul was itching to go solo, and the album itself sounds like an afterthought, made to be forgotten.

The albums I find myself going back to, though, are Pleased To Meet Me and Don't Tell A Soul. The songs themselves are absolute masterpieces of simplicity and as poetic as anything Bob Dylan has ever written. Yes, I just said that.

When I listen to Let It Be, songs like "Unsatisfied" and "Answering Machine" still have the ability to stop me in my tracks. The guy who wrote those songs seemed to have been thinking that the world of opportunity and success was closed to him, but he ended up being delivered to its doorstep and given the key. In the end, he chose not to step inside, to join that world.

In doing so, he saved the band for all of us. Maybe that wasn't even his intention, but I'm glad it worked out that way.

Superior St. Rehearsal Facility

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