CD Review of Mono by Grandpa Boy
Vagrant Records
Grandpa Boy: Mono

Reviewed by Michael Fortes


he inner sleeve of Paul Westerberg's latest solo record (done under the pseudonym "Grandpa Boy") reads: This is rock'n'roll recorded poorly, played in a hurry, with sweaty hands and unsure reason. How it sounds, what it says, who played what, is irrelevant. It feels right. This is my blood."

And so it is. Mono, as well as its kinder, gentler, more polished and produced co-creation Stereo, which is being marketed as a Paul Westerberg record, was recently released amid a bevy of hopeful rumors about if and when The Replacements might be regrouping. Founding member and bassist Tommy Stinson seems to be the missing link in such a reunion and he's currently knee deep in Axl Rose's latest reincarnation of Guns 'N' Roses. So the saga continues....

Meanwhile, the raucous and tattered feel of Mono provides the real fuel for any Replacements reunion fire. These songs are the closest yet to reliving the raw and angry garage band roots of the legendary Minneapolis quartet. "Anything But That" is a ragged stomper that would have fit well among the 1984 gem, Let It Be. "Knock It Right Out" sticks with this vintage formula also, with cranked up, under-produced guitars and crashing percussions. The lyrics are as youthfully uncomplicated as anything Westerberg penned in the 1980s, and yet anything more sophisticated would have likely gotten in the way of this throw-back album.

Shades of Westerberg's solo career do surface. It's the softer and less assaulting tracks like "High Time" and "2 Days 'Til Tomorrow" that recall 1993's 14 Songs, Paul's first solo recording after disbanding The 'Mats in 1991. Nothing is wasted here, as Mono is a lean, mean, even if brief collection of timeless ditties that will please the critical pallet of forgotten Replacements fans who thought Paul went soft a decade ago. Nobody really knows when or obviously if Tommy will reappear in Paul's corner to recreate the old band, but this recorded effort gives us more reason than ever to believe it's more than a scant possibility.

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