Bash & Pop – Friday Night Is Killing Me

What I Think of When I Think of This Artist

I really wanted this band to work out, but maybe that wish was unfair. Bash & Pop seemed to be an obvious substitute for the Replacements – not just for the fans but for Tommy Stinson as well – and while Stinson has admitted as much, that kind of burden would’ve probably been overwhelming. I suspect critics and fans would’ve quickly disparaged anything that hewed too closely to the ‘Mats heritage (even as Paul Westerberg’s career was dogged by complaints that he had strayed too far). And in fact, this album was poorly received, though I don’t understand why. I feel like he was damned if he did and damned if he didn’t, but at least for this one album, he damn well did nicely. As we all know, Stinson went on to join latter-day Guns n’ Roses and released a few solo albums, as well a second Bash & Pop offering many years later.

What I Think of This Album

When I was growing up, I had this hazy sense of what the Rolling Stones sounded like (or were supposed to sound like), only to eventually learn that what I was really thinking of (without ever having listened to a note of their music) was Faces (though admittedly there are Stones songs that approximate what ten-year-old me was envisioning: “Rip This Joint” and “Neighbors,” for example). Faces were pretty clearly an influence on the Replacements, and for better or worse, Tommy Stinson’s voice has a distinctly Rod Stewart-ish rasp to it, so  . . . what you end up with on Friday Night Is Killing Me is something that people uncharitably dismiss as derivative and second-rate.

I, for one, am not going to fault Stinson for going back to what he loved as a child (and let’s not forget that the Replacements had not consistently rocked like this in many years) and making music that spoke to him. And these are fun, rockin’ songs that approximately zero other people were making at the time (least of all the fucking Stones); 1993 was the era of grunge and industrial, neither of which concerned itself with booze-soaked shenanigans or late night pool halls. I bet Tom Waits loves the shit out of this album. This is a loose-limbed, grinning set of ramshackle songs propelled by energy and a desire to not let the night end until the next night begins.

“Never Aim to Please,” “Hang Ups,” and “Loose Ends” crackle from the start, and “Tickled to Tears” is the best song Ronnie Lane never wrote. Meanwhile, “Fast and Hard” (written with the Replacements’ touring drummer Steve Foley) sounds the most like the ‘Mats of this material. The slower songs are essentially distractions, but Stinson’s got a weary, welcoming voice that lends itself to this more vulnerable material.

I strongly suspect it’s a testament to Stinson’s good guy nature (Axl apparently loves him) that he was able to secure the contributions of Heartbreakers Benmont Tench and Mike Campbell (the Replacements opened for Tom Petty on a disastrous tour in 1989), as well as lap/pedal steel maestro Greg Leisz. Don Smith (Dramarama, Cracker) produced.

The Best Thing About This Album

Well, ok, the songs are very similar sounding, so you can sort of take your pick, but I really like “Tickled to Tears.”

Release Date

January, 1993

The Cover Art

This is pretty good. It perfectly evokes the feel and sound of the songs, and dovetails nicely with the album title. The visual elements are a little busy – there is a lot of different-looking text on here – and the album title is unwisely underemphasized. A little bit of editing would’ve really pushed this over the top.

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