Essential New Music: The Replacements’ “For Sale: Live At Maxwell’s 1986”

Considered as the Replacements’ only professionally recorded full-length concert, For Sale: Live At Maxwell’s 1986 would be noteworthy. Here’s the better news: This is a double album’s worth of a first-rate show by a great rock ’n’ roll band that, on this night anyway, clearly came to play. In February 1986, the Mats’ major-label bow Tim topped critical polls, but sales dragged. Not a month earlier, their network television debut on SNL had gotten them banned from NBC virtually before Saturday became Sunday. Under those circumstances, knowing that Sire Records was throwing its support behind a pro recording with a state-of-the-art remote truck, the Replacements were absolutely capable of purposefully screwing the pooch. Instead, they turned in a career-spanning, stitch-tight set, and stuck damn near every landing. The setlist draws heavily from Tim, but reaches all the way back to Sorry Ma, Forgot To Take Out The Trash, with “Fuck School” and “Takin’ A Ride” getting blistering, definitive readings. Personnel and management shakeups caused the project to be shelved, but in the digital age there remain very few great “lost” albums. Make no mistake: This is one.

—Eric Waggoner

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