Bash & Pop

Friday Night Is Killing Me

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During the last act of the Replacements, Tommy Stinson sat patiently beside Paul Westerberg as the Mats' lead singer/songwriter attempted to extricate himself from the band's drunken legend. By the time of their 1990 farewell, All Shook Down, the Replacements were barely rocking anymore, so it's little wonder that when he struck out with his own band Bash & Pop in 1993, he was ready to kick up some dust. That's precisely what he did on Friday Night Is Killing Me, the 1993 debut from Bash & Pop. Filled with openhearted rockers recalling the Faces and punctuated by a couple of ramshackle ballads that only underscore the debt to Rod Stewart, Friday Night Is Killing Me is the kind of casual music that gets better with age, possibly because it is so beholden to tradition it winds up standing outside of time. At the time of its release, Friday Night Is Killing Me didn't belong to any of the current trends in alternative rock; it was too beholden to boogie and good times, standing in contrast to the alt-angst and obtuse indie in the American underground. Decades after its release, the album feels like a bit of the hangover from the '80s, a celebration of irreverent roots rock performed with an audible grin. Bash & Pop are certainly slicker than prime Replacements, but that's because Stinson recorded a good chunk of the record on his own, bringing in friends from Tom Petty's Heartbreakers and Wire Train's Jeff Trott to fill out the sound. If the resulting record is a bit slick, it's also full of heart, and Stinson's songs are sturdy, old-fashioned guitar rave-ups that make no apologies to their debt to Ronnie Wood, Ronnie Lane, and Westerberg, too ("Fast and Hard" is the closest Stinson comes to a straight-out Mats roar). Maybe Friday Night Is Killing Me is minor, but that's also the charming thing about it: it's the sound of a musician getting back to what he loves to do, and that's quite endearing.

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