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 an EP in 1997. Both brief releases contained some clever wordplay, while simultaneously recalling the Replacements' reckless spirit. Many fans and critics proclaimed the EP to be his best work in ages. Another, more subtle Westerberg platter, Suicaine Gratifaction, was issued in 1999 on Capitol Records, but as a result of a change in management at the label, his contract was terminated not long after its release. Seemingly disillusioned with the music business, he dropped out of sight for a few years, leaving the zealots to wonder if he would ever return. After so much time had passed, one could've looked back on the playfully cantankerous Grandpaboy as just a fun little diversion for Westerberg while he was between major labels. But in early 2002, he resurfaced, reviving the moniker with Mono, and delighting his fan base with a full-length CD of loose, Keith Richards/Faces-style rock & roll. A short time later, Mono was paired with his fourth solo disc, Stereo (both on the emo-centric Vagrant).
Grandpaboy turned out to be a way for Westerberg to once again harness the unruly, go-for-broke aspect of his personality, which was largely lacking in his work following the demise of the Replacements (arguably due to maturity, sobriety, repeated attempts at more commercial sound, and/or the simply fact that the other Replacements were no longer propelling his songs). At the same time, it reinvigorated the material released under his given name, allowing him to focus on his other strength -- heart-on-his-sleeve narratives -- resulting in his finest solo record to date with Stereo. Perhaps sensing that he was onto a good thing, another album under the alias, Dead Man Shake (a purported blues record on Fat Possum), was delivered in 2003, as was the fifth Paul Westerberg long-player, Come Feel Me Tremble, which sounded very much inspired by his close personal friend, Grandpaboy. ~ Bart Bealmear