Don't Tell A Soul
Sire / Reprise Records, 1989
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 01/19/1997
The saddest thing in the music business is the site of groups who didn't quite make it big, while others have capitalized on them to reach new heights. Whether it was their image, their sound, their riffs, whatever - all you know is one day you go back to an album from a forgotten band, listen to it, and say to yourself, "That sounds like someone out there today."
Today's test case: the late Minneapolis band The Replacements. When I dug this one out of the famous Pierce Memorial Archives (motto: watch that last step - it's a lulu) and slapped it into my CD player, I sat there and wondered if I had grabbed a Goo Goo Dolls CD by mistake. All I know is that Paul Westerberg and crew should be getting royalties up the wazoo from the Goo Goo Dolls, 'cause they stole the Replacements sound blind.
This particular CD, Don't Tell A Soul, the first release after the band booted resident alkie Bob Stinson from the band, features two of their best-known hits, "Achin' To Be" and "I'll Be You." Both songs try to capture some of the angst the band had been known for in their alternative heyday, and they do pretty well. Westerberg shows he can write a successful pop song on these tracks, and the dual guitar work of Westerberg and new recruit Slim Dunlap add to the tracks.
Unfortunately, this is where the praise stops. The remainder of Don't Tell A Soul is rather bland and uninspired, as if the band had already tired of being together. (They would stay together to release one more album before self-destructing in Chicago.)
The leadoff track, "Talent Show," is an immediate disappointment. The band never seems like they're given the opportunity to burst forth and show the talent they have. While things get a little better on tracks like "We'll Inherit The Earth" and "Rock 'N' Roll Ghost," the remainder of the album resides right around blah and boring.
Is this a commentary on the Replacements as a band? No; rather, I would tend to think that Don't Tell A Soul has not aged well since its release in 1989. The two hits remain fresh because they still get occasional airplay and stay in front of our faces. The rest of the material, however, may have been fresh in 1989, but it shows little sign of life today.
I'm sure I'll be hearing from fans of the Replacements on this one, but to my tired old ears, with few exceptions, Don't Tell A Soul is a secret not worth repeating.