35 Years Ago: The Replacements Raise a ‘Stink’
In the fall of 1981, the Replacements were reveling in the afterglow of their just-released debut album, Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash, when singer-guitarist Paul Westerberg wrote a new song. The driving “Kids Don’t Follow” would be the first punky anthem the frontman wrote for his Minneapolis band, and it made a big impression on band manager Peter Jesperson.
Jesperson was impressed with Westerberg’s rapid growth as a songwriter and felt it was important that the Replacements released the new tune as soon as possible, as a single, EP, whatever. Being a co-owner of Twin/Tone Records – the band’s label – he could make this happen, as long as he convinced Charley Hallman and Paul Stark, with whom he’d started the imprint in 1977.
“Listen, we'll do it cheap,” Jesperson told his partners, as recounted in Bob Mehr's remarkable Trouble Boys: The True Story of the Replacements. “We'll do it cheap---we'll cut the whole thing in one day. I'll f---ing hand-stamp jackets if I have to.”
Hallman and Stark acquiesced to Jesperson’s passion and the Replacements entered Minneapolis’s Blackberry Way studio on March 13, 1982 to record “Kids Don’t Follow” along with other originals that the band had worked up. These tunes ranged from snarky hardcore (“F--- School,” “God Damn Job”) to blues parody (“White and Lazy”) to songs that hinted at the less-frantic, more melodic Replacements of the future (“Go”).
At eight tracks, the release was too big to be an EP. At 15 minutes -- the 2008 CD reissue nearly doubled the length -- it wasn’t long enough to be a full-length album. So it was decided that the Replacements would be putting out a “mini LP” with the title of Stink – which turned into the self-deprecating phrase “The Replacements Stink” on the album sleeve. That was underscored with “‘Kids Don’t Follow’ Plus Seven,” to highlight the song of which Jesperson had thought so highly.
A sound clip at the beginning of Stink cemented the Replacements’ reputation as snotty punks (even if their music sometimes belied their hardcore status). The recording was taken from a downtown Minneapolis rent party in early ’82 that featured the band. The show was shut down by the cops, and you can hear an officer take the mic and declare, “The party is over with. Grab your stuff and go and nobody goes to jail.”
The recording, which some thought was a studio goof created by the Replacements, also features a teenage fan yelling, “F--- you!” at the cops – which could be Dave Pirner (who would go on to form Soul Asylum).
“I said ‘f--'’ on Stink,” Pirner admitted to Minnesota Public Radio in 2016. “I put the f--- into Stink!”
After all of Stink was recorded, Jesperson’s Twin/Tone co-founders made him live up to his promise to hand-stamp album covers. Between three separate runs of the “mini LP,” Jesperson had to enlist many of his friends to help hand-stamp about 5,000 record jackets. Each edition is unique, making those early copies collector’s items. Later editions used a printed cover that mimicked the stamp.
Stink was released on June 24, 1982, satiating the small but rabid Replacements fanbase. Although it was later perceived as one of the band’s lesser recordings, the short album proved to be a stepping stone as Westerberg and the ’Mats broadened their sonic horizons.
Replacements Albums Ranked in Order of Awesomeness