In the pantheon of ’80s indie-rock guitar heroes, Bob Stinson has been largely forgotten, except among fans of The Replacements, the band he cofounded in 1978.
It hasn’t helped that Stinson was booted from the Replacements in ’86 and passed away in ’95, spending the intervening years bouncing between Minneapolis bands, the last being Bleeding Hearts. As such, Riches To Rags comprises Stinson’s final recordings, boasting a fine assortment of his infamous gonzo fretboard peregrinations (and filling a void in the Replacements’ post-band solo canon).
Songwriter and co-guitarist Mike Leonard’s compositions are more varied than previously credited. Sure, there’s a “Stones-y” swing, but from track to track, listeners can imagine Bleeding Hearts comfortably sharing stages with, say, SoCal pop-punk outfits like Descendents (“Happy Yet”). Any Keef vibe arrives via intervening acolytes like the Dolls or Georgia Satellites (“Imagination”). Elsewhere, there are tantalizing hints at how Stinson might have fit in the post-’86 Replacements (“100 Ways” and “Tonight”).
It’s well-documented that Stinson was a fan of Steve Howe and Johnny Winter. His genius was tossing off unhinged lines that pulled performances to the brink (see “Gone”) before reeling them in. That talent is on display here in spades.
This article originally appeared in VG’s September 2022 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.