Besterberg: Best of Paul Westerberg

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David Sprague
At this point, Paul Westerberg has been plying his trade as a solo artist for far longer than he fronted the late, lamented Replacements, and this 20-song set provides an intriguing look at the rolling career path he's charted on his own. Fittingly, Besterberg resonates with an unmistakable restlessness, documenting its creator's desire to be seen as a mature singer-songwriter as well as a punk graduate with an unreconstructed love for messed-up rock 'n' roll. The former vibe is more evident in earlier offerings, like the wrenching mid-'90s ballad "Love Untold" and the previously unreleased lost-romance musing "All That I Had." On a similar note -- at least in terms of...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David Sprague
At this point, Paul Westerberg has been plying his trade as a solo artist for far longer than he fronted the late, lamented Replacements, and this 20-song set provides an intriguing look at the rolling career path he's charted on his own. Fittingly, Besterberg resonates with an unmistakable restlessness, documenting its creator's desire to be seen as a mature singer-songwriter as well as a punk graduate with an unreconstructed love for messed-up rock 'n' roll. The former vibe is more evident in earlier offerings, like the wrenching mid-'90s ballad "Love Untold" and the previously unreleased lost-romance musing "All That I Had." On a similar note -- at least in terms of bummed-out mindset -- "Let the Bad Times Roll" evokes the defeatist tone of Westerberg's most introspective 'Mats material. He recalls that band's tenor more often, naturally, on rockers like the cautionary flame-out stomp "World Class Fad" as well as the raggedly raunchy -- and unabashedly joyful -- "C'mon, C'mon, C'mon," which makes its first appearance here. The set is peppered with hard-to-find ditties, some of which merit unearthing -- like his Singles soundtrack contribution "Dyslexic Heart" -- and some of which might've been best left buried, like a mordant cover of the Beatles' "Nowhere Man." As with any artist with a following as rabid as Westerberg's, there might be some quibbling over the track listing -- but Besterberg strikes a balance between standards and oddities that should prove pleasing to all but the most cynical.
All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
The Replacements were touted as the Next Big Thing for so long that when leader Paul Westerberg struck out for a solo career in 1992, that same sense of expectation carried over to the new phase of his career. Of course, 1992 was a very different time from 1984, when the 'Mats released their breakthrough Let It Be, or even 1989, when the heavily scrubbed and polished Don't Tell a Soul represented a last-ditch attempt for crossover success for the band. In 1992, the doors to commercial mass acceptance for alternative rock had finally been broken down -- the very thing that many critics and pundits predicted that the Replacements would do. Nirvana opened the floodgates with Nevermind, and the climate of rock music changed considerably, just around the time that Westerberg was turning away from the rowdy rock & roll that had made his reputation and turning toward classic singer/songwriter-styled material. In the thick of the post-Nirvana fallout, Westerberg released the light, incessantly catchy "Dyslexic Heart" as his first single -- a song that he calls "a bit too cutesy for me" in the liner notes to the 2005 retrospective Besterberg, but the damage had already been done, since the single, and its association with Cameron Crowe's Seattle-glorifying slacker romantic comedy Singles, pegged Westerberg as being a little bit too desperate for crossover success. He may have helped kick off the cultural zeitgeist of the '90s, but now that the tide had turned, he was left behind. His 1993 full-length debut, 14 Songs -- a collection of polite Stonesy rockers and sensitive balladeering that wasn't all that bad but certainly wasn't hip -- didn't help matters, even if it got a fair amount of MTV airplay and charitable reviews, and by his second album, Eventually, in 1996, Westerberg began a long, slow slide to the margins of pop culture. He still retained a cult, but it got smaller with each release, no matter if some were stronger Stereo than others Suicaine Gratifaction. It was such a drop-off in quality, such a diminishment of his stature -- once poised to be the savior of rock, he was simply stumbling along like his idol, Alex Chilton -- that it's hard for a compilation not to reflect this shift. To its credit, Besterberg goes out of its way to disguise this decline, with nearly half of the 20-song disc dating prior to Eventually, which is also represented by two outtakes that are superior to most of what wound up on the finished disc including the vaguely misogynistic "C'mon, C'mon, C'mon," which nevertheless ranks as one of the most spirited, engaging rockers he's done in his solo career. This is because Besterberg rounds up B-sides and soundtrack contributions, so it's halfway between an introduction and a rarities clearing-house. Rhino has done this before with other '90s alt-rockers, but the difference here is that Westerberg really did toss off some of his most appealing songs onto B-sides and soundtracks, so compiling "Seein' Her," "Man Without Ties" originally titled "Men Without Ties", "A Star Is Bored," and "Stain Yer Blood" not only makes this a better listen, but it has the unfortunate side effect of showing how rough the latter half of the '90s was for Westerberg. Still, this does take the two best songs from Suicaine and has good representations of Mono, Stereo, and Come Feel Me Tremble -- just enough to give a sense of how Westerberg boxed himself into a corner where he could occasionally write a good song but was more content to just roll along. There are some good songs missing here -- in his notes, Westerberg says "Blackeyed Susan," "Ain't Got Me," and "Good Day" are among those missing in action -- but Besterberg rounds up everything of note and tells a disillusioned Replacements fan everything he needs to know.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 5/17/2005
  • Label: Rhino
  • UPC: 081227464622
  • Catalog Number: 74646
  • Sales rank: 81,020

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Dyslexic Heart (4:31)
  2. 2 Knockin on Mine (3:45)
  3. 3 World Class Fad (3:31)
  4. 4 Runaway Wind (4:26)
  5. 5 Things (3:22)
  6. 6 Seein' Her (2:59)
  7. 7 Man Without Ties (3:28)
  8. 8 A Star Is Bored (3:55)
  9. 9 Stain Yer Blood (3:02)
  10. 10 Love Untold (4:18)
  11. 11 Once Around the Weekend (4:06)
  12. 12 Angels Walk (3:30)
  13. 13 It's a Wonderful Lie (2:49)
  14. 14 Lookin' Out Forever (3:43)
  15. 15 Nowhere Man (3:30)
  16. 16 High Time - Grandpaboy (3:02)
  17. 17 Let the Bad Times Roll (3:45)
  18. 18 What a Day (For a Night) (3:15)
  19. 19 All That I Had (4:27)
  20. 20 C'mon, C'mon, C'mon (2:43)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Paul Westerberg Primary Artist, Acoustic Guitar, Bass, Guitar, Piano, Drums, Bass Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals, Background Vocals, Melodica, Slide Guitar
Kenny Aronoff Drums
Benmont Tench Keyboards
Michael Bland Percussion
Josh Freese Percussion, Drums
Brendan O'Brien Acoustic Guitar, Bass, Guitar, Bass Guitar, Keyboards
John Pierce Bass, Bass Guitar
Michael Urbano Percussion, Drums
Matt Wallace Percussion, Background Vocals
Don Was Bass, Double Bass, Acoustic Bass
Suzie Katayama Accordion, Cello
Josh Kelly Drums, Background Vocals
Keith Christopher Bass, Bass Guitar
Luther Covington Guitar
Zeke Pine Bass
Elrod Puce Maracas, Triangle, Background Vocals, Hand Clapping
Henry Twiddle Drums
Charmony Brothers Background Vocals
Brian Macleod Drums
Rick Price Bass, Mandolin, Bass Guitar, Background Vocals
Technical Credits
John Lennon Composer
Paul McCartney Composer
Paul Westerberg Composer, Producer, Audio Production, Instrumentation
Lou Giordano Producer
Bill Inglot Remastering
Dennis Keeley Cover Photo
Scott Litt Producer, Audio Production
Brendan O'Brien Producer, Audio Production
Matt Wallace Producer, Audio Production
Don Was Producer, Audio Production
Kim Biggs Art Direction
Reggie Collins Discographical Annotation
Daniel Hersch Remastering
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