Cult Albums: #9 THE REPLACEMENTS – Tim (1985)

On September 28th Rhino are issuing “Deluxe Editions” of the four albums that the Replacements made for Sire between 1985 and 1990. Not sure what the deluxe element entails – bonus tracks presumably. I can’t think they will be much to write home about – the Replacements weren’t the sort of band who left a whole lot of classic unreleased material, most of it being drunken arseabouts.

For many, the Twin Tone years were the band’s peak period, and the Sire tenure saw the group in decline as it fractured and ended up a Paul Westerberg solo project in all but name. There is something to be said for this theory. The production became more radio friendly, and only Tim features the original quartet of the Stinson brothers, Westerberg and Chris Mars. But both Tim and Pleased To Meet Me are as good as anything that the group ever recorded for Twin Tone.

Tim, though, is a frustratingly mixed bag. There are some songs that are little more than Clash pastiches. I’ve been listening to the album for longer than I care to remember, and I still struggle to remember how “I’ll Buy” or “Dose of Thunder” go. Tommy Ramone’s production suffers from that horrible mid eighties bloated, echoey snare sound that virtually every major label record of the era has (it can really get irritating). And the dynamics are frustratingly flat at times – both things that the new remaster may do something to correct. Despite these gripes, Tim remains my favourite Replacements record. It still retains some of the gonzo dumbness of their early stuff, but, at its best, combines it with a song-craft that elevates it above almost any other rock from the era.

“Hold My Life”, “Kiss Me On The Bus”, “Bastards of Young”, “Little Mascara” and “Left of the Dial” all combine a slight world-weary sadness with punk energy and tunes to die for. Alt-rock anthems they may be, but they never fail to lift the spirits. I did a piece on “Bastards of Young” just over a year ago. “Left of the Dial”, an anthem to college radio, is maybe even better.

The ballad quotient would increase on later records. Here there’s just two. “Swingin’ Party” is actually more low-key pop than a ballad. “Here Comes a Regular”, though, is one of the most heart-wrenching five minutes ever recorded. Some songs have a delicious melancholy, others are just heartbreaking. This tale of weary barflys, alcoholism, wasted lives and dashed hopes falls firmly in the latter category. It’s barely more than a strummed acoustic, bar a cameo piano break and a synth-string coda. Westerberg’s vocal is downtrodden and broken and never fails to get me.

Well a person can work up a mean mean thirst
after a hard day of nothin’ much at all
Summer’s passed, it’s too late to cut the grass
There ain’t much to rake anyway in the fall

And sometimes I just ain’t in the mood
to take my place in back with the loudmouths
You’re like a picture on the fridge that’s never stocked with food
I used to live at home, now I stay at the house

And everybody wants to be special here
They call your name out loud and clear
Here comes a regular
Call out your name
Here comes a regular
Am I the only one here today?

Well a drinkin’ buddy that’s bound to another town
Once the police made you go away
And even if you’re in the arms of someone’s baby now
I’ll take a great big whiskey to ya anyway

Everybody wants to be someone’s here
Someone’s gonna show up, never fear
’cause here comes a regular
Call out your name
Here comes a regular
Am I the only one who feels ashamed?

Kneeling alongside old Sad Eyes
He says opportunity knocks once then the door slams shut
All I know is I’m sick of everything that my money can buy
The fool who wastes his life, God rest his guts

First the lights, then the collar goes up, and the wind begins to blow
Turn your back on a pay-you-back, last call
First the glass, then the leaves that pass, then comes the snow
Ain’t much to rake anyway in the fall

Sublime.

Tracks
1 Hold My Life 4:18
2 I’ll Buy 3:20
3 Kiss Me On The Bus 2:48
4 Dose Of Thunder 2:16
5 Waitress In The Sky 2:02
6 Swingin Party 3:48
7 Bastards Of Young 3:35
8 Lay It Down Clown 2:22
9 Left Of The Dial 3:41
10 Little Mascara 3:33
11 Here Comes A Regular 4:46

Originally issued as Sire 9 25330-1 in November 1985.

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7 responses to “Cult Albums: #9 THE REPLACEMENTS – Tim (1985)

  1. tim has it’s moments, mainly where it reminds me of the weary majesty of let it be, and i’ve tried to love it as i do everything that preceded but sadly it’s more of a platonic friendship. pleased to meet me is as barely there as most of westerbergs official solo stuff. it’s not even an acquittance.

  2. Any record with a song as life-affirmingly good as “Alex Chilton” can’t be all bad, surely.

    Most of Westerberg’s solo records are weak. I’d make an exception of the two Grandpaboy records which are noisy fun, and Suicaine Gratification which is unfairly neglected. I played that to death when it came out and still love it to bits.

  3. Not read that one. Looked at the blurb on Amazon and it sounds interesting, so it’s one to add to the pile. Cheers for the rec.

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