The Replacements were one of the three great American underground bands of the '80s (the other two were R.E.M. and Hüsker Dü), influencing a generation of alternative bands with their ramshackle, ragged rocking and Paul Westerberg's heart-tugging songs. In short, they were the band no one heard except for the young guitar-slingers inspired to form bands of their own. All for Nothing/Nothing for All, a double-disc set comprised of one disc of "hits" and one disc of rarities, is supposed to offer proof of the group's influence, but it actually inadvertently dismantles their legend. For legal reasons, the hits disc All for Nothing couldn't feature highlights from their Twin/Tone releases, which means their rawest recordings and gems like "Within Your Reach," "I Will Dare," and "Androgynous" aren't here. Instead, four songs each from their Reprise albums -- Tim, Pleased to Meet Me, Don't Tell a Soul, All Shook Down -- are featured, and while most of the obvious suspects are here, they make the Replacements sound downright traditional; based on these tracks, the only '90s bands they influenced were Americana groups like Wilco and the Bottle Rockets, not indie punk and grunge outfits like Nirvana. And, surprisingly, the Replacements don't even rock that hard on these Reprise records -- the production, as many longtime fans have claimed, tames their wilder tendencies. Nevertheless, many of the songs on All for Nothing are among Westerberg's finest and prove that he was a talented songwriter, especially since the filler that plagued every Replacements album has been saved for disc two, Nothing for All, which is comprised entirely of B-sides and unreleased cuts. Still, there are a couple of gems on the disc, particularly the early Alex Chilton-produced take of "Can't Hardly Wait" and the Tom Waits-assisted rave-up "Date to Church."
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2