Few bands turned not giving a shit into an art form quite like The Replacements.
Throughout the 80s, the Minneapolis natives teetered on the brink of success, only to repeatedly – and, let’s be honest, gleefully – snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. In a pre-Lollapalooza era where punk and mainstream rock’n’roll were mutually exclusive concerns, the ’Mats did more than most to bridge the gap – purely accidentally, of course. But while the attitude might have been dressed up in a shrug and a sneer, the music was anything but. In Paul Westerberg, they had a singer and songwriter who drew equally from Kiss, the Ramones, Badfinger and the Pistols, and who wasn’t afraid to write heart-on-sleeve ballads in among the drunken thrashes. During their initial 12 year stint, they grew up without actually maturing, inadvertently influencing everyone from Soul Asylum to the Gaslight Anthem. Surprisingly, they reunited in 2012. It’s safe to say that they still don’t give a shit.
The quintessential British prog band, they’re also the most enduring, forging ahead into the 21st century when most of their contemporaries have long fallen by the wayside. God knows prog could be daft, but Yes were frighteningly talented, their individual members capable of startling virtuosity, complex arrangements and the trickiest time signatures.
Almost absurdly ambitious, the run of releases from The Yes Album (1970) to Going For The One (’77) was the equal of any other band of the decade. And just when it looked like it was all over, back they came in the early 80s with a monster album produced by the bloke from Buggles.
They’re also that rarity in prog circles – a mega-selling album band (30 million-plus and counting) that has hit singles – and great ones at that. The fact that the band remain a vital force today, 21 albums in, is all the more reason to celebrate.