The Replacements - All Shook Down

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ll the acoustic guitars and skipping electric guitars push All Shook Down far outside of the nascent Zeitgeist of grunge, or the sound of college rock in 1990; this finds him retreating from the rat race, reflecting on what he's been through. All Shook Down is designed as a coda to the Replacements' career, with Westerberg looking back to "When It Began," pleading that "Someone Take the Wheel" and wrapping the whole thing up with "The Last," as self-aware a final song as the Beatles' "The End." Westerberg balances these self-referential slices of autobiography with his self-deprecation and heartbreak, but all this melancholy never feels heavy, not even when he dips into thick sorrow on "Sadly Beautiful" or the disembodied spookiness of "All Shook Down." There's a palpable sense of relief to All Shook Down, as if Westerberg realised he dodged a bullet by not becoming a true rock star. This lightness is appealing, especially as it surfaces in his writing, which is surely more considered than it was even on Pleased to Meet Me, but it has an offhand quality, recalling the casual virtuosity of Let It Be and Tim.

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