Today is the last day in the current run of punk rock, I promise. So I might as well finish up with some actual punk. The Replacements are less known for their punk output than their more commercially successful alt-rock output, but for their first couple of albums, they really exemplified the spirit of suburban punk. You can hear the band growing up over “Sorry Ma, Forgot To Take Out The Trash” and “Stink”, their first couple of albums. On Sorry Ma, the lyrics were self-involved, the typical “fuck you mom and dad” rantings of kids from the suburbs who are angry but don’t know why. Songs about weed, other bands and declarations of intent like “kick your door down” were the calling card of a band still finding themselves. The loudest message on the album is that the Replacements just wanted to be the Sex Pistols, and for all the fun offered by the concise punk jams, they never gave the impression of a larger outlook.
This is why “Kids Don’t Follow” feels like the moment they blossomed as a band for me. The lead song on Stink was the first time the Replacements showed any concern for anything beyond themselves. If they were Bruce Wayne, Kids Don’t Follow would be the sound of their parents getting murdered. Opening up with a recording of the band being shut down on stage by the Minneapolis PD, this was a different version of the Replacements. They had a focus for their anger now, even if it was just a vaguely defined system and even though the rest of the EP degenerates lyrically into more self-involved territory, it feels like the beginning of the band’s growth. Unfortunately, while they would continue to produce fine music and eventually grow up to tackle social issues with humor and passion through their music, this was the end of the line for the Replacements as a punk band. Thus, Kids feels special for another reason in that it occurred at an intersection of two versions of the band: the angry young men who could barely play their instruments and the more mature alt-rock band who had more refinement, but never again opened the door to their raw punk anger. Plus, it’s actually a pretty sweet song. You can check it out for yourself below, and find more of the Replacements’ music on iTunes.