The Replacements were a great band, and it’s easy to see how someone might want to do a tribute to them, although perhaps not one that is done completely on ukulele. That is exactly what Nashville’s Bright Little Field has done with Treatment Bound. The band does a reasonably good job on at least some of the songs here, however.
Of course, it is a novelty first and foremost. After all, the entire musical accompaniment consists of ukulele and percussion created on pots and pans. Tom Littlefield and Jonathan Bright obviously are not taking this too seriously, but they are genuine Replacements fans, and they treat the songs with a degree of respect and handle the vocals in a way that allows listeners to enjoy the lyrics in a whole new way.
That being noted, the approach does not always work very well. The ukulele is, after all, not an instrument that is usually associated with songs of alienation and loneliness, and even though Westerberg’s lyrics are often funny, they also usually deal with darker subject matter.
Also, frankly, by the end of the CD, I was simply tired of the ukulele. It is not really that versatile an instrument when used alone and while it is fine for a song or two, it begins to sound monotonous over the course of a whole recording.
For “Treatment Bound,” “We’re Comin’ Out,” and “Can’t Hardly Wait,” the laid-back vocal delivery and quirky accompaniment works. The others might sound better heard individually, but they don’t hold up very well as a body of work. I miss Westerberg’s unique vocal style and The Replacements’ music on these songs, and that’s what this CD mainly did for me. It made me want to go dig out my Replacements CDs and listen to the originals.
Certainly, the CD is worth a listen as something unique. I wouldn’t mind hearing more from Bright Little Field, but as for this recording, honestly, unless you are a real ukulele fan you’d be better off just buying The Replacements’ original music and hearing the songs that way.