A necessary lesson in futility, ranking The Replacements' albums

I knew rating the Replacements' albums would be difficult, but, never imagined how wildly my rankings varied from day to day.  The first and last slots rarely changed, but as I thought about each album over the course of two weeks, Let it Be jumped around from 2nd to 6th, and Pleased to Meet Me even made me pause when I considered it for the top slot based on three really fantastic songs, but it never seriously contended.  Then, Don't Tell A Soul, posed an even greater problem.  It was the album that started my crazy obsession, yet it's an album most 'Mats fans seem to place near the bottom because it was their first commercial effort, too glossy they say.

See, I showed up late for the group, hearing them for the first time in January of 1989 on a radio station in Virginia Beach while I was in the Navy.  That's 25 years of being a fan, but I had already missed a lot, the band was broken and dissolving by the time I became hooked on I'll Be You.  And, while I don't think it's their best, Don't Tell A Soul was and still is the sound I use to measure the band's output.  But, that discussion will be for another day, today will be about my least favorite Replacements album, Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash.  And 'least' is a really strong word here, especially when dealing with a band of this stature, and held in high regard around my house.  A better way to say it would be that I spent far less time bonding with this album than any other album, and there are several more songs here that I dislike than on any other effort.  Read on.

For a debut album, a stunning effort, but like most bands, their sound wasn't truly formed until a few albums later.  A unified sound isn't necessary to be successful, but the band feels as if they're haphazardly throwing it all on the wall to see what sticks -- mashing up Rock, Punk, Hardcore, Power Pop and Alternative into a rudderless collection.

They gave punk a run with blistering guitars, a manic rhythm and Paul shouting more than singing, but it felt forced.   Besides, the band was more about drunken mischief than aggressive defiance -- their heart was too soft for that scene anyway.  And then, Paul's voice was better suited for the Rock and Roll sensibilities of I'm In Trouble and Shiftless When Idle.  Now, close to 35 years later, that voice still sounds the same, and it gives goosebumps.

Sorry Ma hinted at what was the come, a band figuring out its sound, and Paul showing early flashes of lyrical brilliance, but because of its uneven nature, it is ranked #7 of their 7 studio albums.  

Key Tracks: I'm In Trouble, Johnny's Going to Die, Takin' A Ride, Shiftless When Idle

So what's in 6th place?  I'll have it written and posted some time this weekend.