The Replacements’ 1985 Classic ‘Tim’ Gets Expanded…And Remixed

The Replacements
Tim: Let It Bleed Edition
5 out of 5 stars

Videos by American Songwriter

Considering the rather short but turbulent decade, 1979-1989, Minneapolis’ The Replacements made albums, there has been an enormous amount of words spilled recounting their story. Not only in the sprawling notes for the enhanced versions of two previous expanded editions (Don’t Tell a Soul 1989 and Pleased to Meet Me 1987) but in at least four books detailing the quartet’s brief career and eventual flameout.

This deluxe (four CD/one vinyl) edition of Tim, debatably their finest record, includes a lengthy dissertation that adds more detail and clarity to an already well-publicized story, along with rare photos and extensive liner notes by the group’s unofficial historian and reissue co-producer Bob Mehr.

The genesis of this, their first major label stab, starts with the near-universal accolades accorded to Let It Be (1984). That set, recorded for the small indie Twin Tone, created a bidding war of sorts for the suits to enter the picture and attempt to push the prickly indie rockers to national stardom. Legendary Sire impresario Seymour Stein loved what he heard and signed these rough around-the-edge Midwesterners.

Then the story of Tim’s somewhat convoluted path from recording to release gets complicated. The result was that songwriter/guitarist/frontman Paul Westerberg wrote his best, most focused material to date. His streetwise lyrics never got too obtuse yet delivered poetic, sharply penned words to offerings that have become band classics and benchmarks of this era in garage/punk/rock history.

From explosive opener “Hold My Life,” to the defiant “Bastards of Young,” the anthemic “Left of the Dial” and the closing introspective acoustic “Here Comes a Regular” (one of rock’s more sensitive, gripping, and spellbinding tunes about alcoholism), the album displayed more developed sides of Westerberg’s genius, making him a reluctant spokesperson for those of his generation who felt lost, alone and confused.

The creation of Tim was difficult, however. Initial producer Alex Chilton, one of the band’s heroes and the subject of their song named after him, didn’t have the chops to pull off this project, so Stein suggested Ramones’ drummer Tommy Erdelyi (aka Tommy Ramone). He occasionally clashed with the members but generally got the job done, albeit with a final, slightly muddy, almost mono mix few were satisfied with. Additionally, troubled lead guitarist Bob Stinson barely showed up for the sessions, and when he did, he was often drunk or in a foul mood (he was fired shortly thereafter).  

Regardless, when the finished product hit the shelves in October 1985 it was greeted as a flawed but major statement with broad critical raves and has since become one of The Replacements’ classics. Unfortunately, those positive reviews did not yield sales; the album only scratched out a lowly position of No. 192 on the Billboard charts, moving a disappointing 75,000 copies.

This mammoth box with 65 tracks (50 never heard before), features a stunning remix of the initial 11 songs from veteran producer Ed Stasium (who was on the shortlist to first helm the project), a remastered edition, a batch of various alternate takes cherry-picked from the remnants of the recordings and a disc featuring a typically unpredictable, but relatively well behaved, Replacements live show—including covers of “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and The Beatles’ “Nowhere Man”—from January 1986. Stasium tweaked the first-generation tapes, fine-tuning the audio, removing extraneous reverb, widening the sound field, and generally finding more luster in an album that was already an impressive if dusky gem.

The “leftovers” are not just for hardcore fans either. Some alternate takes are as powerful, perhaps more so than what ended up on the finished release. Three unused stabs at “Can’t Hardly Wait,” which didn’t make the final Tim cut (it was a highlight on Pleased to Meet Me in 1987), might be overdoing it although that’s expected on this sort of wide-angle reissue.

Westerberg’s writing had come a long way from some of his more puerile meanderings like Let It Be’s “Gary’s Got a Boner” (which kicks off the live show), improving to yield the incisive “Little Mascara”’s reflection of a broken relationship, one of his most moving compositions.

Even considering his better post-Replacements solo excursions, Tim exudes the sound and power generated by a band of friends creating music that breathes with emotion through their interaction. It’s a striking example of everything The Replacements did well, although it has a few weak moments, in this refurbished configuration, Tim remains revelatory.  

Leave a Reply

Police Arrest Man Implicated In Tupac’s Murder