"Paul Westerberg once admitted that, with this album, The Replacements really made a serious play for commercial success while trying to hide that attempt. Who could blame them for trying, though? They had put out nothing but brilliant music up until then and had little to show for it but critical respect and a little beer money. This album is great. Not as great as their very best work but great nonetheless. "Rock and Roll Ghost" takes on added poignancy when you know that Paul wrote it about a friend from his early rock days who killed himself and that Paul can't bring himself to sing the song in public. "I'll Be You" is a perfect line-drive that deserved more attention from mainstream radio. And the other songs on the record range from good to miraculous. The Replacements were perhaps the greatest rock and roll band of all time if one uses heart, talent, sense of humor, and soul as criteria. This album is evidence that they knew they deserved more popular attention and were willing to go for it. I just wish it had worked. Then there'd be more kids today having their lives changed like mine was."
Mikey Scars | Maryland | 12/31/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Don't Tell a Soul is just breath-taking. This is easily the best work they ever did.
I know everyone else loves Twin/Tone era but I find the songwriting from those early albums so incosistent. I mean, everyone's favorite is Let It Be and it's actually got some good material, but a song regarding "Gary's" unmentionable and a really immature song about bassist Tommy's orthodontist adventures. And a Kiss cover?! Why are any of those three things acceptable to anybody? Excuse me, but I don't get it.
Maybe being an 80's baby is my problem, I don't know. The over-polished sound is there on Don't Tell a Soul but I don't mind. I guess I'm more hi-fi than lo-fi. I wish I could write songs half as catchy as what's on this remarkable album. Only one song doesn't blow me away...the honky-tonk, semi-rockabilly "I Won't". But even it's not without it's charm.
I'd suggest this album to anyone that likes power-pop or pop-rock. But definitely not for those looking for the sloppier sound of the twin/tones era."
A View from the Outside
sparr0 | Kansas City, MO United States | 06/21/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It was strange to read the consistent mythos of these reviews: "The 'Mats Grow up and Sell Out (okay or not okay?)" If this really is one of the worst Replacements albums (sorry, I don't even know why they're the "'Mats"), I should just order the rest right now. I was given this disk by a friend of a friend over two years ago, and it has yet to leave my fast-rotation stack. Okay, I was just a bit too old to catch their wave the first time out. Maybe I'm the guy they were selling out to (though since my faves in the day were older Rundgren and Stomu Yamashta, no wonder that ploy didn't work). But this is still brilliant song-writing. I get the calls for better production, better playing, etc. But I think people have to get off being afraid to rate this album highly for fear of sullying the pristine record of the earlier disks. Maybe it's not up to such rarified standards of purity, but it's great listening. It's smooth without being soporific, haunting without ... sound effects, and loaded with unsubtle nuances - interesting small twists on normal pop expectations. People who don't know the Replacements from the Refreshments will hear this album and say "Damn. That's interesting." True-blue Replacementistas, please consider rating this on a scale for all music, not a private, tougher one for 'Mats albums. It won't hurt to have outsiders listen to "your" music; heck, it'll just jack up the price on the used copies of this CD that you probably want to sell anyway."
Not nearly as bad as everyone says
Colin P. Metz | Boston | 06/30/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I think I went the opposite route that most people take in terms of discovering the Replacements. It seems like most people start off checking out more respected albums like "Let It Be" and "Tim." I just happened to listen to this album first which might make me slightly biased since I had no basis for comparison.First off, let me say that this is a great record. A lot of people find this album to be lackluster but I disagree. It's got all the ingredients of any good Replacements album which, simply put, are great songwriting and great music. It does lean more towards a pop style of music than their previous albums, but I don't mind pop if it's done well (which it certainly is here). The playing is also a bit more restrained here, but there's still enough of the Replacements' trademark recklessness that comes through. Like all their great albums, the songs are eclectic and no two sound the same. Following the low key vibe of "They're Blind" with the rave up, energetic stomp of "Anywhere's Better Than Here" are perfect examples of the various moods that they are capable of.The only real problem with the album is that it does suffer a bit from the typical, overly polished, 80's style production. There's a lot of reverb on everything, especially the drums, which sort of saps the raw energy that tends to give the Replacements an edge. However, the songs are good enough so that it doesn't really matter that much. In some cases, the production even works to a song's advantage such as contributing to the haunting feeling of "Rock N'Roll Ghost."In the end, I think "Don't Tell a Soul" is a really solid album that holds up over time and repeated listens. Is it their best album? No. But is it a bad record? Definitely not. Is it worth checking out? Absolutely!In comparison with their other albums: 4/5 stars
On it's own: 4.5 starsP.S.-"Talent Show," the first track, is one of my favorite Replacements songs."
David J DeCastris | Rockford, IL | 03/10/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A Mats' album that follows the rock n' roll circus that 1987's "Pleased To Meet Me" graced true music fan's is a tough act to follow. Coupled with a catalog that includes a study in the ascent or decline of a hard working American band and the loss of Bob Stinson to Slim Dunlop, "Don't Tell A Soul" may have disappointed many fans with its sly sleek production and accessible pop arrangement's. The truth of the matter is, musical maturity creeps in on this one. "Achin To Be" may be the finest country-rock bar song to come out of the 80's. "I'll Be You" and "We'll Inherit The Earth" may be the finest anthems to never have a stadium. "They're Blind" may be the most beautiful self confessional defense of one's own artistic talent and commercial failure. "Darlin One" is a sly 1980's rock ballad that never was. At a time when Gun's N' Roses, Def Leppard, Poison, and Warrant were ruling the airwaves, it's amazing that as glossy as "Don't Tell A Soul" may sound on it's initial listening, it merits many more years later because of it's heart, singer songwriter, Paul Westerberg. Older and beaten a bit, the sound of a great band descending from its own throne they made, and the rise of musical maturity. A shame and a blessing they were never meant to be had by all. A Big Star for the 80's."