Anything Could Happen
Bash & Pop
Fat Possum FP1582-2
Way back in 1991 when the Replacements split up for the first time the consensus was that Paul Westerberg would be the Mat to watch. Not true. His excellent solo work on the Singles OST proved an early highspot, after that it all got very grown up and a bit dull. The Mats dishonourable tradition was best upheld by bassist Tommy Stinson, who formed Bash & Pop and released Friday Night Is Killing Me in 1993. Overlooked at the time, it’s reputation has grown subsequently, aided by a vinyl release this year (which sounds fabulous). The band did not hold, but after years as a solo act Tommy has now formed a new Bash & Pop and released a follow-up.
It was worth the 14 year wait. A thankfully modest dozen songs, split equally between upbeat rockers and more reflective numbers with a faint country feel. Luther Dickinson’s guitar on opening track Not This Time sounds like a party that has already started, whilst the following On The Rocks has a suitably dishevelled everyone-falling-over extended ending. The title track makes it three rockers in a row with the catchiest melody here. Breathing Room is more reflective and evidence lyrically of an emerging theme of broken relationships, personal and/or musical. A welcome change of pace follows as Tony Keraldo’s keyboards drive Anybody Else, which containins my favourite lyric: “If you’re going to tell me all my faults, I’ll tell you the ones I’m gonna keep’”. The song shifts up a gear to a strong bridge nicked from Absolutely Sweet Marie. Languid slide and acoustic guitars run through Can’t Be Bothered, recorded at the London Roundhouse in London when Tommy and Luther were in town for the 2015 farewell Replacements gigs (detailed in Bucketful of Brains 83). After that things drop away slightly on the songwriting front, although Unf*ck You has such a fantastic Faces ending that, to borrow from Charles Shaar-Murray, if you woke Kenny Jones or Ronnie Wood up in the middle of the night they would be convinced they’d played on it. Anything Could Happen is definitely the best Faces album since Ooh La La.
I fully expect these songs to come to life when played live and I look forward to Tommy’s forthcoming UK visit. Clearly being in a band setting brings out the best in Tommy’s songwriting. I am less convinced that he is his own best producer – Don Smith got a wider range of sounds and textures on Friday Night Is Killing Me. And the sleeve design here is brown and sludgy. But these are minor concerns. It is great to have Bash & Pop back again, bashing and popping.