Friday, October 2, 2009

25 Years Ago Today: The Replacements release "Let It Be"...

Let It Be is the third studio album from the American rock band The Replacements, released in October 1984 . By 1983's Hootenanny, the band had grown tired of playing loud and fast exclusively and decided to write songs that were, according to vocalist Paul Westerberg, "a little more sincere." Influenced by genres as diverse as metal, Chicago blues and arena rock, Let It Be featured more complex arrangements and songwriting than the band's previous albums.

The Replacements started their career as a punk rock band but had gradually grown beyond the straightforward hardcore of initial albums like Stink. Westerberg recalls that "playing that kind of noisy, fake hardcore rock was getting us nowhere, and it wasn't a lot of fun. This was the first time I had songs that we arranged, rather than just banging out riffs and giving them titles."

By 1983, the band would sometimes perform a set of cover songs intended to antagonize whoever was in the audience. Westerberg explained that the punks who made up their audience "thought that's what they were supposed to be standing for, like 'Anybody does what they want' and 'There are no rules' ...but there were rules and you couldn't do that, and you had to be fast, and you had to wear black, and you couldn't wear a plaid shirt with flares ... So we'd play the DeFranco Family, that kind of shit, just to piss 'em off."

Peter Buck of R.E.M. was originally rumored to produce the album. Buck later confirmed that the band did consider him as a possible producer, but when they met Buck in Athens, Georgia, the band did not have enough material. Buck did manage to contribute to the album in a limited capacity; he said, "I was kind of there for pre-production stuff, did one solo, gave 'em some ideas."

The cover of Let It Be is a photograph of the band sitting on the roof of Bob and Tommy Stinson's mother's house taken by Daniel Corrigan. Michael Azerrad stated that the cover was a "great little piece of mythmaking," showcasing each bandmember's personality via how they appear in the photograph. The album's title is a reference to the 1970 album Let It Be by The Beatles; the reference was intended as a joke on the Replacements' manager, Peter Jesperson, who was a huge Beatles fan. Westerberg has stated the name was "our way of saying that nothing is sacred, that the Beatles were just a fine rock & roll band. We were seriously gonna call the next record Let It Bleed."

Although not a commercial success upon its release, Let It Be was critically acclaimed by various American music publications; The Village Voice's Robert Christgau gave the album an A+ rating,and the album ranked fourth in the 1984 Village Voice Pazz & Jop critics' poll. The Rocket critic Bruce Pavitt said Let It Be was "mature, diverse rock that could well shoot these regional boys into the national mainstream."

The album is frequently included on professional lists of the all-time best rock albums. It is listed in Allmusic with a five-star rating and is one of the few albums to receive an 'A+' from esteemed music critic Robert Christgau. In 2003, the album was ranked number 239 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. In 1989, it was rated #15 on the same magazine's list of the "The 100 Greatest Albums of the 80's". In the 1999 miniseries "VH1's 100 Greatest Albums of Rock and Roll," VH1 ranked Let It Be #79. Pitchfork Media rated the album at #29 on their 100 Best Albums of the 1980s.

Suggested listening:

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