Shriek of the Week: The Replacements, “Kids Don’t Follow”
When you think of the Replacements, most likely you think of Let It Be, their incredible album from 1983 that has been written about in the 33-1/3 series not once, but twice. If not Let It Be, then you probably think of one of their first two major label releases, Tim or Pleased to Meet Me, each also great albums. And if you grew up a little later – like I did – the album that you think of when you think of the Replacements might be the one that saw the most mainstream success, their last record, All Shook Down.
When I think of the Replacements though – when I just close my eyes and picture the ‘Mats on stage (which I never had the pleasure of) or in their garage in Minneapolis banging out songs – the sound that I hear is one that most is most distinctly heard on their 1982 “mini-LP”, Stink.
Stink – aka “‘Kids Don’t Follow’ Plus Seven” – is an 8 song assault that captures the ’80s punk scene in a brisk 15 minutes and 10 seconds. “Kids Don’t Follow” (listen here) is the first song on the record, and it opens with audio of the Minneapolis police breaking up a Replacements gig with the officer stating in an official sounding voice, “This is the Minneapolis Police Department, the party is over.” You can then faintly hear an audience member yell “Fuck the police” and so the party begins. Kids Don’t Follow is a celebration of rebellion; it is followed by an even more direct anti-authority anthem, “Fuck School”. The rest of the album is more pure adrenaline fueled punk – song titles like “White and Lazy”, “Dope Smokin’ Moron”, and “God Damn Job” (as in, “I need a god damn job”) tell you all you need to know.
I feel fortunate to have a copy of Stink on vinyl. There aren’t many of them floating around. And the ones that are have quite a unique history. Peter Jesperson, a Twin/Tone owner and champion of the Replacements heard the song “Kids Don’t Follow” and told his fellow label co-owners, “I will do anything to get this out. I will hand-stamp jackets if I have to.” And so that’s what Jesperson and the band did. According to the ‘Mats original Minnesota-based label, Twin/Tone Records:
The first three pressings (2,000 + 1,500 + 1,500) used hand stamped white jackets. Each pressing had unique markings and were easily told apart. (First was black, the second was red, the third was done in black with a fake bar code made from a cut out “potato stamp”) For the fourth and future pressings we went to pre-printed jackets. The final pressing in the late eighties (to run out the jackets) of aprox 1,000 were pressed on colored vinyl. Vinyl and cassette versions are “out of print.” Twin/Tone continues to press the CD and sells it through Restless/Ryko.
Through the rest of the ’80s the ‘Mats would continue to put out amazing albums whose songs technically surpass anything on Stink by leaps and bounds. I would never suggest that Stink is a better record than Let It Be, or that Kids Don’t Follow is a better song than, say, “Bastards of Young“. But sometimes what you need isn’t necessarily the best song or the best album. Sometimes you need the best pure unadulterated punk. For that, it doesn’t get any better than Kids Don’t Follow (Plus Seven).