30 years ago, we fell for REM's 'Fall On Me' and 'Lifes Rich Pageant'
During the spring we featured Replacements Week were we talked about the Replacements rivalries with other bands. Without a doubt, the Replacement's biggest rivalry was with R.E.M. In the rivalry, the real winner was the music fans as we all were treated to the Replacements working class songs and idealistic R.E.M. tunes like Fall On Me.
Like Husker Du, the Replacements were friendly and partying partners with R.E.M. in the early '80s. Peter Buck of R.E.M. was among the Mats biggest supporters and without his guest guitar skills, the Replacements song I Will Dare may have never become one of the band's most cherished songs. Things were always not so cool between Paul Westerberg of the Mats and R.E.M.'s lead singer Michael Stipe as Stipe was more high-brow and always seemed to resent Westerberg's luring the other members of R.E.M. - Buck, Mike Mills and Bill Berry - into hard drinking nights.
By 1986, R.E.M. had clearly separated themselves commercially from the Replacements by claiming a gold record with the epic Lifes Rich Pageant that celebrates its 30th anniversary today. The album title was taken from a 1964 Inspector Clouseau film A Shot In The Dark. Several of the songs on Life's Rich Pageant were ecological driven including Fall On Me, which started out as a song about acid rain.
The video for Fall On Me was directed by Stipe, which explains the arty presentation along with the random words appearing on the screen. Fall On Me would chart but only make it to No. 94 on the Billboard Top 100. By 1986, the comparisons between R.E.M. would fade as the Replacements stubbornly fought to promote their 1985 album Tim insulting many a DJ on air while R.E.M. shook hands with DJ's and radio program directors and did everything that IRS Records wanted to promote the band.
When R.E.M. would appear on December 3, 1987 Rolling Stones cover as America's Best Rock N Roll Band, it was a bitter pill for the Replacements as they had rejected Scott Litt as the producer for their albums and he was the producer who help sparked R.E.M. and made their sound more radio friendly culminating with chart hits like The One I Love. R.E.M.'s signing at Warner Brothers and keeping Scott Litt at the helm would help make the band become millionaires while Replacement guitarist Bob Stinston, despite being in an acclaimed band that had appeared on Saturday Night Live, continued to keep his day job as kitchen help at an Italian restaurant in Minneapolis.
[AP file photo]