Paul was the sensitive singer/songwriter with the prankish, self-effacing wit. Bob was the drunk ‘n’ disorderly guitarist who’d moon an audience as readily as he’d don a woman’s skirt. Tommy was the impish, underage bassist whose natty attire and wild, flowing locks lent him heartthrob status. And Chris was the drummer who…well, drummed.
Of the four original Replacements, Chris Mars was the least colorful and the least known. It’s fitting that, as drummer, he took a seat behind the band because he also took a seat behind them in the public and press. You certainly wouldn’t expect Chris to kick out the first and best solo disc after the band broke up. But this is just what he did.
1992’s Horseshoes and Hand Grenades is darn near brilliant. Indeed, it made you wonder if Chris had more input than originally thought into the “songwriting genius” that was attributed to Westerberg (and Westerberg’s so-so solo efforts only help fuel this speculation). Chris’ three follow-ups – 75% Less Fat (a playful jab at his former band mates), Tenterhooks, and Anonymous Botch – don’t shine as brightly as Horseshoes. They find Chris delving into stranger and more experimental territory, but certain songs are still worth checking out (particularly Anonymous Botch’s “It’s a Long Life” which he wrote about Bob Stinson after Stinson’s death from a drug overdose).
Today, Chris seems to have abandoned music. His last disc came out a decade ago and he has refused Westerberg’s overtures to rejoin the Replacements for a reunion tour. Instead, he devotes his time to his art (one of his works is shown above), and he apparently makes a nice living off of it. Good for him, bad for those of us who dug his music.
From Horseshoes and Hand Grenades:
[MP3] Chris Mars – Reverse Status
[MP3] Chris Mars – Before It Began (a song about Westerberg?)
[MP3] Chris Mars – Happy Disconnections
From Anonymous Botch:
[MP3] It’s a Long Life
Buy Horseshoes and Hand Grenades
Check out Chris Mars’ artwork