Bastards of Young by the Replacements
Pros: They rocked. They didn't give a fuck. They played drunk and were rowdy. They were silly and fun. And they gave us four great albums in a decade that people usually consider a music waste land (the 1980s)... They wrote songs about drinking at the bar! How great is that?!?!?! "I Will Buy", "Here Comes a Regular", "Beer for Breakfast" what's not to love there? Most bands claim to live the rock'n'roll life style. These guys did... Look in the 80s when hair and heavy metal was the it non-it music and the 'live the rock style' was in, these guys did it (tragically in the end... I mean how many guys die because they just partied too hard for 15 years? Sadly that is Bob Stinson)... they understand/understood irony, a must in my book in order to be the Greatest American Band... The idea of the Replacements has always been as big or bigger than the band itself. In America, this is a good thing... have been a huge inspiration for many and most good bands over the last 25 years.
Cons: Some people will say putting them up here is a stretch. 'The Mats weren't around all that long (tad over 10 years) and no one knows of them' they'll say, 'They're not even unknown but known like the Velvet Underground.' True, but when the 'Mats hit, there was nothing like them out there. And they influenced so many bands: pretty much any decent alternative, rock, or indie band of the last 20 years listened to the Replacements and you can hear that in so many songs... you might argue that they sound dated, but I think that's unfair... again, can a band that's pretty much unknown and underrated by the general population be considered the Greatest American band?... Are they too American or too real? Because they were so 'regular' didn't they fuck up just too much (they were banned from SNL for example)? Can the Greatest American Band really be guys who blew it more often than they should have? In a country were the Wizard of Oz was made and is probably the first or second piece of pop culture that we consume, doesn't the Greatest American Anything have to be a bit like the Wizard of Oz (and the illusion of) himself? There was no curtain with the 'Mats. They just were... Or could you say that since they always seemed to blow it some how, they were a bit like the underdog... I'm not sure.
Best Album: Flip a coin between "Tim" and "Let it Be".
Best Song: Bastards of Young -- "We are the sons of no one!" That's it. Done. They win.