Stereo (Grandpaboy Bonus Disc)

Stereo (Grandpaboy Bonus Disc)

5.0 5
by Paul Westerberg
     
 

Growing up in public wasn't easy for Paul Westerberg. As leader of the erratically brilliant Replacements, he crafted some of the most moving, memorable songs of the early modern-rock era -- a reputation that was inextricably tied to prodigious liquor consumption and live performances that often collapsed like sand castles. Once soberedSee more details below

Overview

Growing up in public wasn't easy for Paul Westerberg. As leader of the erratically brilliant Replacements, he crafted some of the most moving, memorable songs of the early modern-rock era -- a reputation that was inextricably tied to prodigious liquor consumption and live performances that often collapsed like sand castles. Once sobered up and on his own, Westerberg began charting a new course, one that thrilled fans of his impeccable popcraft but garnered scowls from those who wanted him to kick out the jams as he did back in the day. With Stereo and its companion disc, Mono, Westerberg seems to have reconciled his two personae, rocking hard without sounding desperate to recapture old glories and pondering topics that sound right coming from a sensitive 40-something guy. The relatively stripped-down Stereo shows that he's still got a knack for creating characters so real you wish you could reach out and offer a sympathetic hug (the misty "Baby Learns to Crawl") and an unsurpassed flair for fusing venom and sorrow (the bipolar lost-relationship plaint "The Only Lie Worth Telling"). The blue-on-blue coloring -- reminiscent of 'Mats classics like "Unsatisfied" and "Aching to Be" -- might not make for the best party listening in the world, but for those times, Westerberg has tossed in a bonus disc, Mono, credited to his Grandpaboy alter ego. While seldom as close to the edge as vintage Replacements, the disc does have its share of roof-raising moments, especially the Stones-y "I'll Do Anything" and the snotty shuffle "Let's Not Belong," both of which bristle with the attitude of his younger days. By separating the downcast and upbeat material, Westerberg has created a set for all seasons, and one that'll be hard to pry from the stereo.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Mark Deming
Paul Westerberg's best work has always been about passion as much as craft, and that's been the biggest sticking point with his post-Replacements solo career. From a strictly technical standpoint, his work on 14 Songs and Eventually was superior to the stuff he wrote for Hootenanny or Sorry, Ma, Forgot to Take out the Trash, but there was a heart, soul, and emotional intensity in his loud, fast, and sloppy rock & roll that was absent from the output of "Paul Westerberg, Professional Songwriter." To many fans, the trouble seemed to be that Westerberg just didn't feel like rocking out, but the lower-key Suicaine Gratifaction made clear that wasn't the only problem; while that album was a step in the right direction, much of it still sounded like Westerberg was writing to order, and the album's calm surface sounded just a bit forced. Dropped by his second major label and left to his own devices, Westerberg recorded Stereo in his basement, mostly in the middle of the night and with Westerberg providing all of the (minimal and mostly acoustic) musical accompaniment through the miracle of overdubbing. And for whatever reason, Stereo is the first Westerberg solo disc that captures the elusive feel and emotional resonance of his best Replacements tunes; no, it doesn't rock, but if you loved the side of Paul Westerberg that came up with stuff like "Within Your Reach," "If Only You Were Lonely," or "Here Comes a Regular," the good news is he's found a way to tap back into that mindset and he's captured it on tape. The Westerberg who wrote Stereo is older, wiser, and wearier than the kid who made Let It Be, but he still hasn't quite figured out the details of love, relationships, and how to make all of that stuff work, and he has plenty to say about the subject that's funny, heartbreaking, and straight from the gut. With more than its share of flubbed notes and technical mistakes (two songs are cut short when the tape runs out and Westerberg's young son makes an unscheduled appearance on "We May Be the Ones") and occasional goofs (most notably the cover of "Mr. Rabbit"), Stereo seems a bit less than polished or professional, but it always sounds like it comes straight from Paul Westerberg's heart and that's what really makes the difference. It's an inspiring return to form from one of rock's best songwriters, and proves his muse still visits on occasion -- good news for all. [The initial pressings of Stereo also include Mono, the lo-fi rock album from Westerberg's nom de basement side project, Grandpaboy, which plays faster, looser, and a lot louder than Stereo, but still maintains many of the same virtues; they're two very different albums, but are well matched in this package.]
Rolling Stone - Greg Kot
1/2 With a voice that aches like a hangover, Westerberg has long sounded like he's had an album of post-punk saloon ballads in him. Stereo is that album, and it's his best collection of songs since the Eighties.
Entertainment Weekly
Westerberg's transformation from inelegantly wasted young wunderkind to mature, bruised troubadour continues with this fine set. (A-)

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Product Details

Release Date:
04/23/2002
Label:
Vagrant Records
UPC:
0601091036925
catalogNumber:
369
Rank:
64527

Tracks

Disc 1

  1. Baby Learns to Crawl
  2. Dirt to Mud
  3. Only Lie Worth Telling
  4. Got You Down
  5. No Place for You
  6. Boring Enormous
  7. Nothing to No One
  8. We May Be the Ones
  9. Don't Want Never
  10. Mr. Rabbit
  11. Let the Bad Times Roll
  12. Call That Gone?

Disc 2

  1. High Time
  2. Anything But That
  3. Let's Not Belong Together
  4. Silent Film Star
  5. Knock It Right Out
  6. 2 Days Til Tomorrow
  7. Eyes Like Sparks
  8. Footsteps
  9. Kickin The Stall
  10. Between Love & Like
  11. AAA

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