Track This: The Replacement's "Unsatisfied"

The Replacements have been one of my favorite bands for a very long time, and they have been getting me through some tough times lately. My dissertation is nearing the halfway point, and I have not had a moment to blog lately. I can't believe it's been two months. Today the playlist contained some Sonic Youth followed by the Replacement's amazing Let It Be, an album that changes those who listen intently.

Picking a track to review from such a monumental album is extremely difficult. Where does one start? The album begins with the classic, propulsive rocker, "I Will Dare," and does not let up. "My Favorite Thing" is a pure pop wonder. "We're Comin' Out" has one of the coolest punky riffs of the band's early period before they signed to Sire. It recalls Husker Du more than most of their other songs. "Tommy Gets His Tonsils Out" is another punky piss-take, showcasing Paul Westerberg's sense of humor. "Androgynous" is a nice template for the slow numbers the band will perfect on Pleased To Meet Me. "Black Diamond" takes Kiss to a different place and seems like an odd choice, but it works.

Side Two opens with "Unsatisfied," which is perhaps their greatest pop achievement. Westerberg mournfully sings "Look me in the eye, then tell me I'm satisfied. Are you satisfied?" His every man, throaty vocals capture the pain of Midwestern relationships that the band will only expand on in their later albums. Westerberg opens up to his listeners, and it is hard to tell what he is unsatisfied about, but the lyrics and the restrained music make his moment of doubt all the more compelling. A mixtape of this track with later numbers like "Anywhere's Better Than Here" is a perfect picture of Midwestern ennui. Westerberg captures doubt and dissatisfaction perfectly with well-chosen, yet simple lyrics. The band shows they can rock, while painting a portrait of emotional discontent.

The rest of the album remains a classic, but the feeling of "Unsatisfied" lingers. "Seen Your Video" is  a  lighthearted instrumental romp and "Gary's Got A Boner" epitomizes the jokey songs of their earlier records. "Sixteen Blue," a country-tinged number, and the masterful "Answering Machine" end the album. Both contain the lingering effects of "Unsatisfied." When Westerberg sings, "How do you say you're okay to an answering machine?," the band has transcended their humble Minnesota beginnings. They belong to the larger world. Their songs are catchy and full of pathos; Let It Be begins a run of classic albums, and the melodies and catchiness will stick around until Westerberg goes solo.

Listen here.  

Track This is a recurring feature of Snobbin' that turns the music appreciation dial up and rips it off of your stereo. It attempts to introduce a new track, allow readers to rediscover an underappreciated track, or just serve as a forum to flat out discuss a track that falls into the ear candy category and should be listened to unabashedly and without reservation for years to come.


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