Classic Album Dissection: Let It Be

The Replacements' Let It Be (Classic Album Dissection) & Opinions on Steve Earle

It's time for another Sound Opinions Classic Album Dissection. This time Jim and Greg discuss The Replacements' masterpiece“Let It Be”with Jim Walsh, author of "The Replacements: All Over But the Shouting."

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Music News

In the news this week is Radiohead's decision to independently release its first studio album since 2003 as a pay-what-you-wish download. The announcement has sparked interest among fans and industry analysts alike, and Jim and Greg are eager to see how this experiment works out. When Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood were on the show last year, they discussed their hope to step outside the traditional record industry model, but they didn't seem to know how or when they would do it. And how Radiohead succeeds with releasing their album this way will be telling for other labels and bands who are looking for an alternative to the overpriced plastic disc.

Another story getting headlines is the Phil Spector murder trial. Four years ago the legendary producer was charged with murdering actress Lana Clarkson, and last week the jury announced it was deadlocked. It will be months before a new trial is launched in Los Angeles, but with so much negative attention focused on Spector, Jim and Greg wanted to take this opportunity to discuss his legacy as a producer. He's had a history of violence, but, as Greg explains, he also completely reinvented music production. Using heavy orchestrations, layers of sound, and booming echoes of instrumentation, Spector created the "Wall of Sound" effect for groups like The Ronettes, The Beach Boys and The Beatles. Jim and Greg end the conversation with a great example of this sound-"River Deep, Mountain High" by Ike and Tina Turner.

classic album dissectionLet It Be (Expanded Edition)Let It Be available on iTunes

The Replacements Let It Be

This week's feature is a Classic Album Dissection of The Replacements' 1984 release Let It Be. Unlike previously dissected albums like Revolver and Songs in the Key of Life, Let It Be wasn‘t a major critical or commercial success. But, Jim and Greg believe it’s one of the greatest albums ever made. It was the fourth album from the Minneapolis band, which was comprised of four“scruffy”members: Paul Westerberg, Bob Stinson, Tommy Stinson and Chris Mars. As Jim and Greg explain, this album put the band on the map and helped to define what we know today as“indie music.”To learn more about the making of Let It Be and why it's so special, Jim and Greg talk with longtime Minneapolis music journalist Jim Walsh who has written an oral history of the band called "The Replacements: All Over But the Shouting."

Jim, Greg and Jim Walsh discuss what a radical change Let It Be was for The Replacements. While their previous albums were dominated by noisy, silly tracks, this recording sprinkled those trademark Replacements songs ("Tommy Gets His Tonsils Out," "Gary's Got a Boner") with more mature, heartfelt songs penned by Paul Westerberg. An example of this is the track "Unsatisfied," which Jim and Greg both believe is the highlight of Let It Be. Greg describes the song as“emotional bloodletting,”and an indication of how much Westerberg had grown as a songwriter. He also points out how inventive the instrumentation, which includes 12-string and lap steel guitar, was for the band and punk music in general. Jim calls "Unsatisfied" the "Satisfaction" of the post-punk generation. The song asks a question everyone can relate to:“Is this all there is in life?”But, as Jim notes, there was more in store for The Replacements after the release of Let It Be. It cemented them as an important band in rock history, and even though Westerberg and the band didn't go on to achieve similar greatness, Let It Be will go down as one of the great albums in the rock canon.

reviewWashington Square SerenadeWashington Square Serenade available on iTunes

Steve Earle Washington Square Serenade

The album up for review this week is Washington Square Serenade by veteran roots-rocker Steve Earle. This is Earle's 12th studio album, and was partly inspired by his 7th wife. The singer/songwriter has always combined rock, folk and country with strong political messages, but, now he's adding“happiness”to the mix. As you can hear in many of the album's songs, Earle is very much in love with new wife Allison Moorer, who also appears on the record. Another new person in Earle's life is Dust Brothers producer John King, who has previously crafted albums for Beck and the Beastie Boys. King brought in elements of hip hop and Latin music, and Jim loves the results. It took him longer to get into Washington Square Serenade, than any other Earle album, but with the exception of two bum tracks, he gives it a Try It. Greg is less pleased with the happy Steve Earle. He explains that with the new wife, producer and location, this effort has all the trappings of a“mid-life crisis”recording. Only some of it works for Greg, and he misses the political broadsides of previous albums. Greg also gives Washington Square Serenade a Try It.


Featured Songs

  1. House of Freaks, Black Cat Bone, Monkey on a Chain Gang, Rhino, 1988
  2. Radiohead, I Want None of This (Live on Sound Opinions), Help: A Day in the Life, Independiente, 2005
  3. Pink Floyd, The Trial, The Wall, Harvest/Columbia, 1979
  4. Pink Floyd, The Trial, The Wall, Harvest/Columbia, 1979
  5. Pink Floyd, The Trial, The Wall, Harvest/Columbia, 1979
  6. The Crystals, He's a Rebel, He's a Rebel, Philles, 1963
  7. Ike & Tina Turner, River Deep - Mountain High, River Deep - Mountain High, Philles, 1966
  8. The Replacements, Seen Your Video, Let It Be, Twin/Tone, 1984
  9. The Replacements, Tommy Gets His Tonsils Out, Let It Be, Twin/Tone, 1984
  10. The Replacements, Gary's Got a Boner, Let It Be, Twin/Tone, 1984
  11. The Replacements, I Will Dare, Let It Be, Twin/Tone, 1984
  12. The Replacements, Answering Machine, Let It Be, Twin/Tone, 1984
  13. The Replacements, Favorite Thing, Let It Be, Twin/Tone, 1984
  14. The Replacements, Androgynous, Let It Be, Twin/Tone, 1984
  15. The Replacements, Unsatisfied, Let It Be, Twin/Tone, 1984
  16. Steve Earle, Tennessee Blues, Washington Square Serenade, New West, 2007
  17. Steve Earle, Days Aren't Long Enough, Washington Square Serenade, New West, 2007
  18. Steve Earle, Sparkle and Shine, Washington Square Serenade, New West, 2007
  19. Fairmont, Flight of the Albatross, Flight of the Albatross, Border Community/19BC, 2007
  20. Electric Light Orchestra, Telephone Line, A New World Record, Jet, 1976
  21. Eddie Vedder, End of the Road, Into the Wild, J Records, 2007
  22. Indio, Hard Sun, Big Harvest, A&M, 1989
  23. Bruce Springsteen, Girls in their Summer Clothes, Magic, Columbia, 2007

Footnotes Pick-your-pricing of new Radiohead CD ‘In Rainbows’ has to scare music biz Green Plastic Radiohead fan site Phil Spector“River Deep Mountain High” The Replacements' Let It Be Paul Westerberg Jim Walsh's The Replacements: All Over But the Shouting The Replacements: All Over But the Shouting“Tommy Gets His Tonsils Out”lyrics“Gary's Got a Boner”lyrics“Unsatisfied” Washington Square Serenade Steve Earle Steve Earle's discography