Paul Westerberg will probably be haunted by his past. No matter what he’s done in the past 20 years since The Replacements’ called it a day, he’ll always be remember for his work with that band. Granted there are worse things in the world than to be remember for being part of one of rock ‘n’ roll’s greatest unsung bands, but it is probably frustrating nonetheless. Based on conversations I’ve had in certain local record stores, I get the impression that many people feel that beyond the albums Suicaine Gratification and Stereo, Westerberg’s solo material isn’t worth getting. After listening to Eventually, I’d have to disagree with that sentiment.
Westerberg’s second solo record, Eventually, is a solid collection of off-kilter rock and power pop songs. Sure if you go in expecting Let It Be or Tim you’ll probably be disappointed, but that doesn’t mean that the record isn’t good. You see there’s a downside to being part of something that is generally considered to be a classic—no matter how good your future work is, if it’s not at the level of the classic previous work then it is often dismissed outright, even if it is actually really good. That is the sentiment that has plagued Westerberg’s career since 1985. The problem with that mentality is that you end up missing out on a lot of great stuff.
I happened upon Eventually when I found a used copy at a Vintage Stock. My kids love that store and while they were looking around, I went through the CDs to see if I could find any gems. I actually found a few things that night, but Eventually is the one that really stands out to me. I went into the record with little to know expectations and came out very pleasantly surprised. Admittedly Westerberg is one of my favorite songwriters of all time—he has a voice (literally and lyrically) that is completely unique and often underappreciated—so going in I did hold that bit of a bias. On top of that, I tend to be someone who loves artists and when an artist gets stuck into my gut (or heart) I tend to see good in what others dismiss (or again this just could be my rose colored glasses bias talking). That’s not to say that I’m not critical of my favorite artists, just see my Blast from the Past post about ALL’s Pummel record.
Eventually opens with “These Are Days,” a mid-tempo power pop that is extremely catchy and does quite a good job at setting the tone for the entire album. “Century” is an up beat number that is a bit off in classic Westerberg fashion. “Love Untold” is a heart wrenching love song while “Ain’t Got Me” is another up beat number that seems like a bit of a ‘90s update to “Answering Machine” (this just may because of the reference to call waiting in the lyrics though). Next is my favorite song on the record, the rockin’ “You Had It With You,” which I’d be willing to put up against any of Westerberg’s work in The Replacements. The rest of the record continues in this same manor with some slower songs and some faster songs that all have that signature Westerberg sound.
After listening to Eventually, I’ve decided that I’d like to track down all of Westerberg’s solo material to have in my library. If you are a fan of The Replacements and have never listened to Westerberg’s solo material, Suicaine Gratification and Stereo are probably better places to start but Eventually is an extremely solid record that is well worth checking out.