Friday, March 15, 2013

The Replacements Play Songs For Slim

Slim Dunlap by Robert Matheu
There is more to the 5-track EP, Songs For Slim, than meets the ear. It's an innovative charitable event and a good will pick to benefit one of the best punk and alternative guitarists to hail from Minnesota.

As many people know, former Replacements guitarist Bob "Slim" Dunlap (who took over for Bob Stinson in 1987) was hospitalized last year after suffering a stroke. He was in the hospital for nine months and the general prognosis is that he will likely need round-the-clock care for the rest of his life.

Songs For Slim was devised to raise money for Slim and his family by having various artists cover his songs. All of these covers are then being produced as a limited edition series of split 7” vinyl 45s. The auctions themselves have become a resounding success and picking up the 5-track EPs help too.

The second Songs For EP comes from The Replacements.

After the first limited edition put out by Steve Earle and Craig Finn, several members of The Replacements stepped up to put out their first reunion release since 1991. Paul Westerberg, Tommy Stinson, and Chris Mars pushed the initial fundraising efforts to more than $115,000.

The EP itself, Songs For Slim by the Replacements, can stand up to virtually any review criteria too. Busted Up has a rock and roll throwback beat to warm up the EP. It's an important track because Slim wrote it and Westerberg delivers. Radio Hook Word Hit is also written by Slim, but this time delivered exclusively by Mars with a lo-fi vibe.

The covers kick the EP up into high gear, starting with a cover of a Gordon Lightfoot song. I'm Not Sayin' is the point in the EP where everybody wishes The Replacements might make the reunion stick.

Although unlikely, there is no question that they came together for the EP and its purpose. Lost Highways, which the band picked to give the EP even broader appeal, is a Leon Payne song made famous by Hank Williams. And then the album concludes with a Everything's Coming Up Roses, which brings in the campy and coarsely sung Broadway tune written by Stephen Sondheim. It cracks at times and works because of it. It's a test and triumph all at the same time, beautifully summing up the work.

Like all proceeds associated with the limited edition series, it benefits the Slim Dunlap Fund. There are more ways people can help too. There is a Songs For Slim store powered by Merch Lackey, where T-shirts, wristbands and necklaces are being sold to raise more funds for Dunlap and his family.

The Songs For Slim legacy is unfolding for good.

Upcoming news associated with The Replacements release includes a commercial 12” vinyl version of the Replacements EP that will be released in April. (It's different than the limited edition auction edition.) But also in the works is the release of the third Songs For Slim release, which leads off with Lucinda Williams covering Partners In Crime, which many people consider a Slim signature song.

She previewed the song last month and our understanding is that her soulful take on it absolutely dazzled the Minnesota audience. There are other heavyweights who are contributing too. Tommy Keene and R. Walk Vincent have picked up Nowheres Near, a brutally honest song that Slim wrote about chasing the brass ring. It's a split that people won't want to miss.

"It's embarrassing, but I really do appreciate everyone’s hard work and kindness," said Slim about Songs For Slim, but only because his life feels out of his control. "It's truly touched my heart, all the help everyone's given, and there's just no way I can feel worthy. My only problem with the records is that I wish I'd written better songs; every one of those people has written better songs than I have."

Songs For Slim Is A Liquid Hip Good Will Pick. 

At least once a month, Liquid Hip highlights good will efforts undertaken by people with big hearts. We don't score them. That belongs to you.

Originally, the Songs For Slim EP by The Replacements was slated for a standard music review until it became obvious it couldn't be scored. There is something undeniably touching and profound when people who have worked together in the music industry can reunite, record music, and raise funds for someone who has fallen on an unexpected tough time. It's an inspiration for other artists.

If you want to help, you can download the EP from iTunes or look for Songs For Slim from The Replacements on Amazon. The Songs For Slim site lists dozens of other ways to become involved, including donations to FundRazr set up by Dan Baird and a dedicated Facebook page.
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