Album #539 – Let It Be
If Prince was the King of the Minneapolis R&B scene, the Replacements ruled the roost when it came to Minneapolis rock in the 80’s. Along with Husker Du, the ‘Mats built on their original hardcore sound to create something real in rock n’ roll. Honest lyrics and straight-forward rock. There wasn’t much of that going on in 1984. Guitars were out, synths were in. It seemed like the musicians in Minneapolis rock weren’t aware of this trend. To them, loud and fast mattered more than bright and shiny. Paul Westerberg, front man and chief songwriter, knew how to write songs that described every facet of the culture at the time. He knew what it was like to still be questioning life around you. If anything, Let It Be is like a John Hughes teen movie, perfect at encapsulating what it means to be a teenager or young adult, trying to find your place in the world. There’s no bullshit or polished image; just the truth. The best song on the album that captures this feeling is Unsatisfied. I love this song because whenever I get down, I can listen to the track and know that I am not alone. I am not the only one questioning my life and circumstances because this song lets me know that its OK. It is my battle cry. Reading stuff on the band, it almost seemed as if Paul was too good for them. The ‘Mats were originally more about drinking than the music. In fact, they would be just another hack hardcore band, if it wasn’t for Westerberg’s songwriting talent and discipline. Ultimately, it was Westerberg’s sensibilities that ruined the group. They split up in 1991 before reuniting three years ago. The band dissolved again earlier this year. Let It Be marked their first change in sound. No more loud, fast hardcore. It was still loud at times but, there was melody and honest lyrics. All the songs make sense and are relatable. In general, the band was tired of the “rules” within hardcore. If anything, its what I dislike about hardcore and punk. I understand why there needs to be an identity but, isn’t punk supposed to be different? Isn’t it supposed to be anti-authority? No rules, D.I.Y., make up as you go along? Clearly the hardcore scene wasn’t that at all. I know many people who are attracted to the ‘Mats like I am. I’m not sure why but I’m glad to see that their influence has continued to exist. I was first introduced to them in high school but, it wasn’t until I saw the video for Bastards of Young from this album’s follow-up Tim, that I was hooked. So minimal, yet so bad-ass and real. The band was never successful in the mainstream but, who cares. Their music isn’t for everybody but those who get it, love it. Just ask Johnny Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls. Westerberg’s songwriting and their sound, beginning with Let It Be, allowed them to wear their heart on their sleeve. This was unique for the 80’s. So much was pre-packaged in that decade, but Let It Be proved that rock and roll wasn’t dead…yet!!! Other highlights include: I Will Dare (featuring R.E.M.’s Peter Buck on guitar), Tommy Gets His Tonsils Out, Androgynous, Black Diamond (great cover of the KISS classic) and Sixteen Blue. Overall, I give Let It Be, 4.5 out of 5.
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