The Replacements: Let It Bleed (1985)

Time for another imaginary album, this one hot off the presses...

A few years back, the Replacements re-issued 1989's (underrated, IMHO) Don't Tell A Soul as part of a box set called Dead Man's Pop. The box included an alternate mix of the album, taking heed of complaints that the original had been overproduced. I liked the new mix just fine--a little rawer, some interesting details shining through--though I didn't have a big hang-up with the original.

In contrast, I've always bemoaned the production on the original version of 1985's Tim (tied with 1984's Let It Be as my favorite 'Mats record). It wasn't so much overproduced as it was thin and cramped--the rhythm section in particular sounded dull and limp (the complete opposite of what one expected from the Replacements), and the whole mix just felt a little squished together and claustrophobic. Fortunately, the songs themselves were so great that the production was almost irrelevant.

Now there's a new box set, Tim: Let It Bleed edition (taking the name the band jokingly considered before dropping it at the last minute). Like Dead Man, the box includes a completely new mix of the original album. And unlike Don't Tell A Soul, it's not just a subtle change; it sounds completely different. The reverb is stripped away, the bass and drums are given new life, and Paul Westerberg's vocals are much more audible in the mix. It's got a lot more punch. And it's just awesome, sounding like the Let It Be follow-up the songs deserved. Of course, having listened to Tim so many times over the past four decades, it still feels a little disorienting; but once this sinks in, hard to imagine returning to the original.

Anyway, the new box, with its remixed original LP and various outtakes, gives me the excuse to create my own personal version of Let It Bleed. I removed two songs from the original Tim, "Dose of Thunder" and "Lay It Down Clown," both of which always struck me as throwbacks to their more sophomoric punk days and distracted from the songwriting maturity found elsewhere on the record. They're not horrible songs, especially as newly remixed, but after 40 years of hitting the skip button, they're just not part of my Tim experience. In their place, I added 3 outtakes from the box. "Nowhere Is My Home" is legitimately great, and sounds like a proper part of Tim; "Having Fun" is more of a b-side, a little undercooked, but I still prefer it to the tracks I cut. And then there's the original version of "Can't Hardly Wait." The band inexplicably omitted the song from Tim, instead using a more polished (and frankly, lyrically improved) version on 1987's Pleased To Meet Me. It sounds a little out of place here--I too closely associate it with the follow-up LP--but it's such a great song, and the original version feels sonically like a proper part of Tim, so it's in.


  1. I've been reading and enjoying your list for the past couple of hours. I'm in total agreement with you on this, and will seek out your playlist as well. Cheers


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