by Kevin Allman
How does an indie rock guy who found his biggest success in the 1980s release a solo CD and have it hit #1 on the Amazon charts the first week that it's out? If you're Paul Westerberg (ex- of The Replacements), you record the thing at home, leave it raggedy, encode all the songs as one long MP3 track, eschew a formal CD release...and sell the thing for 49 cents, practically eliminating the temptation for piracy.
That's how you hit Number One.
Billboard describes the album, 49:00, thusly:
Westerberg played all the instruments on the decidedly lo-fi recordings, which often feature two songs playing at once for a few seconds and short snippets that abruptly cut off. "It's almost like you're scanning a radio dial," Hill says. "You're getting a glimpse inside of Paul's head here."
"49" concludes with a strange mash-up of partial covers such as the Partridge Family's "I Think I Love You," the Beatles' "Hello, Goodbye," Steppenwolf's "Born To Be Wild," Simon & Garfunkel's "I Am a Rock" and Elton John's "Rocket Man," and a rave-up apparently sung by Westerberg's pre-teen son Johnny.
Is it good? Is it weird? Is it a gimmick, or something you'd listen to more than once, or both? That's up to you, but the reviewers at Amazon are raving about it and it's half the cost of a 99-cent burger. If you've got a couple of quarters to spare, make up your own mind.