Sorry Ma, Forgot To Take Out The Trash (Deluxe Edition)
REVIEW BY: Sean McCarthy
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 09/08/2008
The popular myth about The Replacements is that their live performances were unforgettable. Either unforgettably bad because the band was so drunk that they couldn’t play or amazingly unforgettable in that their volatile energy was somehow contained in a tight stage for about ninety minutes.
That myth has transferred to their albums. Fans of the band’s ability to write great pop songs usually like to start their collection with 1984’s Let It Be. Fans who love The Replacements -- warts and all -- will also have their earlier albums in their collection. These albums better represent the drunken, sloppy part of The Replacements’ history before Paul Westerberg grew as a songwriter. It is in these three albums where the messy, inspired, manic guitarist Bob Stinson was as much of a creative force as Westerberg.
The first half of The Replacements’ catalog has been given the deluxe treatment by Rhino Records, starting off with their 1981 debut, Sorry Ma, Forgot To Take Out The Trash, which features a dizzying thirteen additional tracks. But this update seems to miss the point of the album; it was a fast, loose, gloriously imperfect slab of Midwestern punk. You can hear “…tape’s rolling” and Westerberg mutter “So what?” before going into “I Hate Music.” The original album was a digestible thirty minutes. Now, will listeners be able to put up with more than an hour of this type of music? One hour of Double Nickels On The Dime or Zen Arcade is one thing, but this is Sorry Ma, Forgot To Take Out The Trash.
Well, it’s these types of albums that make the playlist function of the iPod so helpful. For those who have only been exposed to anything after Hootenanny, it would be wise to pick up Rhino’s remastered Sorry Ma, Forgot To Take Out The Trash for the outtakes and create a playlist with the first eighteen songs to get a taste of The Replacements’ debut album without being overwhelmed. With Sorry Ma, the songs don’t necessarily end; rather, they stumble into each other. This is exhilarating for thirty minutes, but for sixty minutes, the listening experience can run from exhilarating to tedious.
This disc has been unfairly categorized as unlistenable by fans who hold Pleased To Meet Me and Tim close to their hearts. While it’s certainly immeasurably sloppier than those two albums, The Replacements’ debut is no more or less tuneful than some of the best punk albums of the early ‘80s. If anything, the album is worth the purchase to see the emerging writing gifts of Westerberg. While Sorry Ma is heavy on sophomoric humor (e.g. the opening of “Love You Till Friday” starts with “Some girls are a pain in my life / When they try to be my wife.”). But the mournful guitar riffs of “Johnny’s Gonna Die” give a chill to the chorus of the same name.
The bonus material includes outtakes of Sorry Ma tracks like “Customer,” “Raised In The City,” and “Shutup.” The real marvel is that there were actually rehearsals and outtakes for an album that sounds like it was recorded in a few takes. To fans of The Replacements who have avoided Sorry Ma for fear that it’s too much like the inebriated, too drunk to finish the set-version of The Replacements, fear not. It’s a wise investment that should be in every rock lover’s album collection.