The Replacements–Left of the Dial

Heard about your band/On some local page

No strangers to the disillusionment and frustrations that fueled music outside the mainstream through the late 70s and early 80s, The Replacements produced one of their greatest triumphs by going sentimental.  Left of the Dial is a poignant love letter to a scene and the friends that populate it, even the ones you haven’t met.  As always, it starts with Bob Stinson’s iconic, shimmering guitar work and Chris Mars sounding like he’s playing drums in an empty room.  The production is hugely specific to the era it was recorded but the contrast with Paul Westerberg’s delivery lifts it from dated to cultural artifact.  He sweetens his shaggy, gravely vocals to the point where he sounds like he’s trying not to cry.  The song is timeless because it speaks the the desires we all have for knowing where to find comfort or solidarity at a moment’s notice.  In this case, you can find it left of the dial.  A paean to the camaraderie of being in on something that’s outside the norm, the band revels in the warmth of that togetherness.

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