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Dead Man Shake

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Album Review

So, like all of Paul Westerberg's loyal fans, you've been dreaming of the day that the great cranky genius of slop-rock would record a blues album, right? OK, probably not, but Westerberg went and did it anyway (under the guise of his alter ego, Grandpaboy), and Dead Man Shake turns out to be a better album than you might expect under the circumstances. Like the previous Grandpaboy long-player, Mono, Dead Man Shake was recorded in Westerberg's basement studio, with "Winthrope Marion Purcival V" once again handling all the instruments, and though one can't help but wish the guy would find a decent drummer, the shabby but emphatic sound of these tracks at once honors the blues-leaning material on deck and suits Westerberg's musical instincts quite well. (The thick echo and chunky guitar textures also recall the sound of the late-'50s/early-'60s Chess Records sessions, though one doubts the similarity was at all intentional.) Dead Man Shake was released around the same time as the soundtrack to Westerberg's documentary video Come Feel Me Tremble, and both seem to be put together from Westerberg's B-list material, but Dead Man Shake in comparison appears to be B-plus product; his 12-bar meandering on "No Matter What You Say" and "Natural Mean Lover" allow him to make good use of his snarkiness, "Vampires and Failures," "O.D. Blues," and "Get a Move On" suggest they could have been A-list material with a bit more work, and if the Minneapolis City Council goes on a collective bender long enough, it might make "MPLS" the town's new anthem. Westerberg also reveals a strong command for covers here; while his takes on Jimmy Reed ("Take Out Some Insurance") and Hank Williams ("I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry") are terrific, the bigger surprise is that you can say the same of his interpretations of John Prine ("Souvenirs") and even, gulp, Anthony Newley ("What Kind of Fool Am I"). Dead Man Shake sounds like something Paul Westerberg tossed off for fun in a week or so, but this time one can say that in a good way, and for simple gut-level satisfaction it's more engaging than the bulk of his post-Replacements catalog, though anyone expecting a masterpiece will be in for an unpleasant awakening.

Customer Reviews

paul who

the white strips are pussies combared to grandpa boy. true blue rock n roll raunch......your insane if you don't have this!

Great Stuff

I have added these songs to my Replacements Playlist. Paul is the man and these songs are awesome. Rock and Roll.


Genre: Pop

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Grandpaboy is Paul Westerberg, singer/songwriter/guitarist and de facto leader of the revered (and now defunct) Replacements. Not exactly a secret venture, but a means for Westerberg to escape expectations and get back to playing devil-may-care, stripped-down rock. He plays all the instruments on each Grandpaboy release and, in keeping with the concept, uses various eccentric pseudonyms. After two inconsistent and labored solo albums, the tiny Monolith label put out a Grandpaboy single and then...
Full Bio
Dead Man Shake, Grandpaboy
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Customer Ratings