Replacements – Black Diamond

If you are a KISS fan…yes you are reading this right. On their 1984 album Let It Be the always unpredictable Replacements put a KISS cover in the middle of their album. It felt out of place on the album but was a fun cut. The Replacements and Big Star were similar…not music as much but as an influence. Every punk band that got huge in the ’90s, especially Nirvana and Green Day owes a major debt to the Replacements.

The Replacements have been described as being one of the best live rock and roll bands ever witnessed…or if they were in a playful or pissed-off mood…they might play covers all night long and some very bad on purpose. They started off as a punk band and doing KISS covers was not high on the punk list…neither was guitar player Bob Stinson idolizing Yes’s prog rock guitar player Steve Howe.

They gradually morphed into a great rock band after their second album. I’ve known people who saw them in the 80s…say that yes they could compete with the best rock band on earth when they were on. When they were not on…they would at least entertain you.

In the mid-80s they were playing at CBGB’s and near the set’s end, Kiss bassist Gene Simmons walked in. Peter Jesperson (Replacements manager) was at the soundboard. “They had a talkback system at CBGB where you could communicate from the booth into the monitors.” He alerted Paul Westerberg to Simmon’s presence, and the band went right into “Black Diamond.” “Simmons was looking all around like ‘How did they know I was here?’” recalled Jesperson. The ’Mats’ “suck ass version” quickly chased Simmons from the venue. The band followed up with an X-rated version of the “Ballad of Jed Clampett,” then whistled their way through the theme from The Andy Griffith Show before finally leaving the stage. Someone was watching them from the audience that night…the one and only Alex Chilton.

When the Replacements went through their routine, Chilton had a grin plastered on his face. After the show, both Jesperson and Chilton were waiting to get paid by CBGB owner Hilly Kristal. Jesperson offered to buy breakfast the next morning. Chilton accepted. That started a friendship between Chilton and the band.

Seymour Stein was the head of Sire records which was owned by Warner Brothers. He was interested in the band and listened to their albums and finally got to see them a few nights after the CBGB disaster…he was knocked out by how great they were. They went all out and were definitely on. That is how big the contrast was with their shows.

The song was written by Paul Stanley.  Black Diamond is the closing track on the band’s eponymous first album, Kiss, released in 1974. Paul Stanley did the intro vocal and then Peter Criss takes over. This is a good example of why Criss’s voice is the one I like best of all of them. It has a raspy feel to it.

The Replacements version changes it somewhat and they make it more of their style…is it a great cover? No, but it is interesting. If you asked me my favorite rock band of the 80s…The Replacements would be my pick. They played rock with intelligent lyrics and they were armed with Westerberg who I would place among the best songwriters of his era.

Paul Westerberg: ““That was, in 1974, dangerous, exciting rock-and-roll for us, I was ashamed to admit it at that time, but now I’m smart enough to know that that music was the thing that got me going.”

Paul Stanley (KISS): “‘Black Diamond’ was a song that I wrote about New York. New York was very dear to us, and life there was all we could write about. Seeing hookers on the street, whether we lived it, we saw it and it kind of gave us something to fantasize about.”

Black Diamond

Out on the street for a livingYou know it’s only begunThey’ve got you under their thumb

Out on the street for a livingShits only begunDoing whatever killed himThey got you under their thumb

Oooh, black diamondOooh, black diamond

Out on the street for a countryAnd it’s only a dreamGot other people marchingAnd it’s only a way

Oooh, black diamondOooh, black diamond

Out on the street for a livingAnd it’s only begunRegardless a street or a countryThey got you under their thumb

Oooh, black diamondOooh, black diamond

Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

28 thoughts on “Replacements – Black Diamond”

  1. not a bad Kiss song to cover. One thing about them, from what you say- if you were a big fan, they’d be one band who’d have been worth following around for a week or two if you had the time. Seems like you’d never see the same show two nights in a row.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That is true…you woulldn’t see it twice. After their guitar player Bob Stinson left…they were more consistent in their shows…from what I read…not taking as many chances but still an element of being unpredictable.

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      1. They also covered the old T Rex song “20th Century Boy” that you have probably heard on a commercial if not somewhere on the radio.

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    1. I apologize for the length…I love this band so much. They had a bad habit of self sabotage. If it wasn’t for that…they would be up there with REM in my opinion. The two biggest alternative bands of the 80s were REM and The Replacements but every single time they could have broken through…they would do something…like on getting drunk on SNL and getting banned. Some people said they did it because they were scared of failure…in other words…just beat fate to the punch. You want to read some good lyrics? Read Westerberg lyrics.
      When they opened up for Tom Petty in Nashville they got into the dressing room and all of them wore Petty’s wife’s clothes on stage…no way some other performer would go with that…but Petty just laughed…it’s a wonder they weren’t kicked off that tour.
      By the time they started to take things more seriously…they broke up.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Obviously I’m a huge fan…in the 80s when heavy metal or synth pop ruled the day….I went to them for just plain rock and roll…plus I would put Westerberg up there with the best writers.
      This cover though…came out of left field and didn’t fit on the album really.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Admittedly, I never got much into Kiss except for their disco hard rock single I had as a 45, which I now feel is an atrocity I shall not mention. That said, “Black Diamond” isn’t a bad tune. I actually like where The Replacements took it with a nice raw sound!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I Was Made For Loving You! That was it I bet!
      That is why I fly the Replacements flag…that one word…Raw…compared to their 80s peers…they were a throwback.

      Liked by 1 person

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