Part of the Replacements' appeal always was that they didn't quite fit into any tidy category and nowhere was that truer than on their 1981 debut, Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash. Falling over themselves to fit into the Minneapolis hardcore scene, the 'Mats played fast and loose, which was part of the problem -- they were too loose, lacking the discipline to fit within hardcore, which even in '81 was adhering to the loud-fast rules that would later morph into straight-edge. Then again, that was a common problem in the Twin Cities, as Hüsker Dü also were too big and blustery to be a standard hardcore band, but where the Huskers traded in violence and fury at this early stage, the Replacements wallowed in cheap thrills. Danger still pulsated in their music, but the group didn't inflict emotional damage: they were a party spinning out of control, getting sloppier with every beer swilled. The messiness on Sorry Ma is hardly confined to the cheap, thin recording or the band's playing -- they sound as if they're stumbling upon each other as they fumble for the next chord -- but how the songs pile up one after another, most not managing to get close to the two-minute mark. Such brevity could be dubbed as hardcore, but apart from the volume and speed, this doesn't feel like hardcore: there's too much beer and boogie for that. Then, there's also the fact that the Replacements reveled in mid-American junk culture, with Paul Westerberg boasting that he'd bought himself a headache the very year that Black Flag sneered that they had nothing better to do then having a bottle of brew as they watched the TV. Neither did the Replacements, but they sang about this with no disdain, as they enjoyed being "Shiftless When Idle," as one of the best songs here called it. This could be called defiant if it seemed like the 'Mats were raging against anything besides garden-variety suburban troubles, as there's nothing that attacks other punkers (quite the opposite; there are love letters to Johnny Thunders and Hüsker Dü), and even when Westerberg is chronicling Midwestern ennui, there's a sense of affection to his laments, as if he loves the place and loves acting like an angry young crank. This strain of premature curmudgeonly humor is undercut by the boundless energy of the band, so happy to make noise they don't care if they're recycling old-time rock & roll riffs that are closer to amped-up Rockpile than the Ramones, as there's more swing to the rhythms than that -- swing that careens wildly and madly, but swings all the same. And that's what made the Replacements seem so different with their debut -- they didn't fit anywhere within American punk, but there's no defiance here; there's a celebration of who and what they are that's genuinely, infectiously guileless. It may not quite sound like any other American punk record but Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash is one of the best LPs the entire scene produced in the early '80s.