26. The Replacements Let It Be

(Twin/Tone, 1984)

Like The Modern Lovers’ eponymous début also featured on this list, The Replacements’ Let It Be is a coming of age classic.

The band’s magnum opus, Let It Be is quite simply one of the greatest rock records of the 1980s, and it is still as powerful and relevant today. Though the ‘Mat’s wilfully shambolic and brash nature is still evident (‘We’re Coming Out’, ‘Seen Your Video’) singer and guitarist Paul Westerberg decided the album would also include a few more serious and emotionally affecting numbers.

And boy, does he deliver on that promise. The spectral piano ballad ‘Androgynous’ and emotionally powerful ‘Unsatisfied’ are two of the ‘Mats most beloved songs, and it is easy to understand why. And somehow the seemingly disparate and incompatible mix of the silly (‘Tommy Gets His Tonsils Out’, ‘Gary’s Got A Boner’) and the sincere (‘Androgynous’, ‘Unsatisfied’, Sixteen Blue’) holds together perfectly.

As Mark Richardson pointed out well in a retrospective review for Pitchfork, the playful tracks on the album serve to lighten the mood, allowing the emotionally resonant cuts to hit home with more power and surprise. And given that teenage years are largely about the emotional ups and downs, it all makes perfect sense.

Let It Be practically covers everything in the male teenage/twenty something experience. From hopelessly declaring love (and dissatisfaction), deploring your girlfriend’s answering machine,  having your tonsils out and getting a boner. Essentially the definitive teenage rock album then, and a near must for teens about to experience a road trip for the first time.

Try also: The Replacements Sorry Ma, Forgot To Take Out The Trash (Twin/Tone, 1981). Tim (Sire, 1985).