All Shook Down
The Replacements

Formats: Cassette, CD

By William Brents

During The Replacements' decade-long evolution they established themselves as being a tough and tuneful rock 'n' roll band, and also one with a fierce reputation for doing things in their own inimitable way.

With their pop-oriented garage sound and relatable lyrics, The Replacements rejuvenated my waning interest in rock music several years ago.

Although now having released their eighth LP, entitled All Shook Down, the music has less of a pop-oriented garage sound and more of an old-fashioned front- porch sound. But the new record still finds singer, songwriter and guitarist Paul Westerberg (who also co-produced the record) sharing his appealing and insightful views.

Westerberg enlisted a number of talented musicians to assist on the record. Such as co-founder of the legendary Velvet Underground John Cale, who played the viola, Benmont Tench of the Heartbreakers on keyboards, and making the most impact as a guest musician was Concrete Blonde's Johnette Napolitano.

Napolitano entwines herself in a loud and lively exchange with Westerberg on "My Little Problem," a forceful rocker that left me exhausted.

Internal problems within the band have given Westerberg an opportunity to share his obvious concern for his bandmates as well as himself. For example, on the song "Someone Take the Wheel," Westerberg conveys his anxiety of losing direction and communication:

Someone take the wheel ,

I don't know where we're going,

Anybody say what you feel,

Everybody sad but nobody's showing.

Another song in which Westerberg bares all is the gloomy title track, which he woundedly whispers about being tired and disillusioned:

Praises they sing,

The register rings,

One of the time that nobody brings,

Praises they sing,

Shake my hand as I drown,

I'm all shook down.

On songs like "Nobody," "When It Began" and "Torture," the acoustic guitar proves to be compatible with Westerberg's lyrical sentiments.

Another song, "Happy Town," proves to be at place where The Replacements currently live:

The plan was to set,

The world on its ear,

And I'm willing to bet.

You don 't last a year,

The plan was to set,

The world on fire,

But it rains every day I'm alive.

It's evident with the overabundance of guest musicians that the other Replacements, bassist Tommy Stintson, guitarist Slim Dunlap and drummer Chris Mars, were used sparingly, and that keeps it from being a true Replacements record.

But it doesn't keep it from being a striking effort that retains something rare in the recording industry today integrity.