Once, Twice, Three Times a Maybe

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More than a few Replacements fans have wondered aloud about why Tommy Stinson would take a gig as bass player with Guns N' Roses, but let's face it, given the man's luck as a solo act, can anyone blame him? His first post-'Mats project, Bash & Pop, sank without a trace despite releasing a better and more enjoyable album than Paul Westerberg managed on his own until Stereo, and Stinson's next band, Perfect, ended up recording its first and only full-length album for a label distributed by an outfit that decided at the last minute Perfect wasn't the kind of band they were interested in. Bootlegs of the shelved Perfect album, Seven Days a Week (taken from advance promo copies sent to press and radio), have been making the rounds with collectors since 1997, and seven years after the fact Rykodisc has finally given less well-connected fans the opportunity to hear the disc. However, Once, Twice, Three Times a Maybe isn't exactly Seven Days a Week -- for its long-awaited official release, the material has been given a new mix by Matt Hyde and the songs have been re-sequenced, with one track ("Peg Song") dropped altogether, perhaps not the wisest choice for an album that barely runs over 30 minutes. While Seven Days a Week sounded a shade crisper and more buoyant than Once, Twice, Three Times a Maybe, the personality of the new incarnation isn't radically different than the original, and makes a strong case for Perfect's virtues -- Stinson is a stronger and more mature frontman on this set than on Bash & Pop's Friday Night Is Killing Me, the songs are lean and potent, and the band (especially drummer Gersh) kicks it out with muscle and nerve. In some respects, Once, Twice, Three Times a Maybe captures the sound of a band just starting to hit its stride, and it's easy to imagine that Perfect had an even stronger second album in store if label problems hadn't caused the band to fall apart. Then again, seven years later you can buy a copy of Once, Twice, Three Times a Maybe at your local record store, while at this writing it's anyone's guess when or if listeners will ever hear the album Stinson's been making with G N' R, Chinese Democracy.

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