For the first time since 2006, the Replacements have recorded new songs. In late September, singer Paul Westerberg and bassist Tommy Stinson spent a day in a Minneapolis studio and cut four cover songs that will be released later this year as a limited edition 10-inch vinyl EP. All 250 copies will be auctioned online, and the proceeds will benefit Slim Dunlap, the Replacements’ guitarist from 1987 to 1991, who had a severe stroke in February.
Replacements drummer Chris Mars “didn’t want any part of this” reunion, Westerberg tells Rolling Stone. “I was not surprised, but I was a little disappointed.” In Mars’ place, Peter Anderson drummed, and Kevin Bowe (who was in Westerberg’s solo band the last time he toured, in 2005) played guitar. With characteristic eclecticism, the Replacements recorded Dunlap’s “Busted Up,” “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” from the Broadway musical Gypsy, Gordon Lightfoot’s 1965 song “I’m Not Sayin'” and “Lost Highway” by Hank Williams. “Tommy and I strapped on guitars, not a word was said, and bang,” says Westerberg. “We still rock like murder.”
Westerberg has been ambivalent about a Replacements reunion since the band broke up in 1991, but he was persuaded by Dunlap’s enthusiasm. “He’s in rough shape. He’s sort of paralyzed, he can move his leg a little bit. When I mentioned this, it seemed like something he really wanted to happen. ‘You guys get together,’ he said in a whisper. ‘Go play a song.'”
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Does this one-day reunion augur a new tour or album from the Replacements, one of the best American bands of the Eighties? “It’s possible,” Westerberg says. “After playing with Tommy last week, I was thinking, ‘All right, let’s crank it up and knock out a record like this.’ I’m closer to it now than I was two years ago, let’s say that.”