This is a direct track-by-track copy of a previously released boot of the same title, issued on the Foshay Tower label. While it’s hard to pin down the exact source/generation of the tapes used, both the home demos (tracks 1-26) and the live soundboard are very good with only a small amount of hiss that, were the performances electric – Westerberg accompanies himself only on piano and guitar – you probably wouldn’t notice. The home demos do have some VU meter distortion in places, however, so be aware that these are true home recordings, most likely done on a simply 2-track cassette, with no studio polish whatsoever. A number of tracks are fragments or songs that abruptly cut off, too.
Those caveats aside, Unintentionally provides a fascinating, at times invaluable, peek into the early Westerberg songwriting muse, and of course if you’re a Replacements fan you’ll recognize a number of song titles too, including “Fuck School,” “If Only You Were Lonely” and the timeless “Answering Machine” (the embryonic status of the latter makes it all the more riveting considering what a ‘mats classic the song went on to become). The live portion is a brief solo acoustic set, probably just a portion of the full show, that also includes a number of ‘mats songs.
There’s a rumor going around that Westerberg, notoriously anti-bootleg from way back (he once stopped me from taping a ‘mats show, in fact), has been trying to track down the source of this and some other recent bootlegs. Obviously he never meant for these demos to get out, but then, if you’re a musician and you aren’t smart enough to plan for the future, even when you’re just starting out, you just have to take your lumps with the rest of us. (And, hey Paul, could you pose for a fucking promo or magazine picture once in awhile without brandishing those pretentious-looking stogies? You look like a mafia don...)
As with the earlier boot, this Unintentionally sports nice but nominal artwork. Here’s hoping that some silver disc label will one day assemble a definitive Westerberg career overview box set and include this material along with full tracklist annotation.