Rhino’s Don’t You Know Who I Think I Was? attempts to rectify the inconsistent Replacements compilation All For Nothing/Nothing For All, which ignored the band’s early—and superior—efforts from the independent label Twin Tone. While All For Nothing featured a disc of rarities and b-sides, Don’t You Know sports two new recordings, but both comps still feel incomplete. When will the Replacements get the boxed set treatment they so deserve? Perhaps a “best of” anthology of the band’s work is a flawed endeavor to begin with: As brilliant as Paul Westerberg’s songs can be, the Replacements were just as noteworthy for fucking up. Don’t You Know leans heavily on the sad-sap Westerberg—the glorious “Unsatisfied” and heartbreaking “Answering Machine” are inarguably their best songs, but shouldn’t a career overview feature at least a glimmer of the band’s naughty side? The album gives us the new wave-y “Within Your Reach” and the folky “Skyway,” but not the Hüsker-baiting “Something To Du” or the anti-MTV “Seen Your Video” or “Fuck School” or anything that might indicate the Replacements are as responsible for Nirvana as they are for Wilco or the Goo Goo Dolls. The two new songs, “Message To The Boys” and “Pool & Dive,” are nice but not essential: Not unlike the material on the final Replacements albums All Shook Down and Don’t Tell A Soul, they sound more like a Westerberg solo project, though, thankfully, their grittiness leans a bit more toward his Grandpaboy tracks than his ballad-heavy 14 Songs. I’m nitpicking, of course, and Don’t You Know is about as affectionate and resonant a mixtape as you can buy in a store. One hopes to see more from the Replacements—will The Shit Hits The Fans finally make it to CD?—but, for now, this is one small step for the band’s back catalog, one giant leap for record collections everywhere.
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