The Replacements – Tim

Sire Records (1985)

In what won’t come as a surprise, I’ve got a new project. Inspired by the new pair of headphones I got (Shure SRH15400 for those who are intrigued), I decided to revisit some albums, find out what they sond like through these beauties.

(In a nutshell, these cans are very light and comfy, being part carbon fibre, with Alcantara pads. They are incredibly clear and detailed, and maybe a touch light on the bass. But where there is a lot of bass in the production, these can certainly communicate them. I suppose they just don’t over-hype the bass, like Beats or Audio-Technica might.)

Anyway, this became a project, in which I have listed my favourite albums for each year since 1970, and then added lists of albums I may not know so well, but might be in with a shot.

Which brings me to Tim. I used to listen to a lot of Replacements in about 2006 maybe. I was part of the now-terminated Sound Opinions Message Board (SOMB), and they had a fun series of album polls. Tim was a beauty I discovered during the 1985-1994 poll.

I thought that, while I am (re)discovering albums, I may as well make notes on them. Like my initial thoughts series, but on old rather than new records. Let’s see if I can keep this up.

The Replacements, if you don’t know about them, were essentially an 80s punk rock band. But not in the sense of Black Flag or Fear. They took the gruff earnestness of Bruce Springsteen and relocated it in the clubs from the stadia he was inhabiting by that point. Their final album was All Shook Down (the name of a SOMB member, as I recall) in 1990, after which main man Paul Westerberg went on a solo run.

I guess Tim is seen as their best album. That or Let it Be. Tim is from 1985, at which point they were a few albums deep and therefore pretty experienced. It shows on this record, as they vary their sound from almost retro rock ‘n’ roll (‘Waitress in the Sky’, which turned out to be very memorable judging by this revisit), very indie or singer/songwritery (‘Kiss Me on the Bus’), to relatively credible ballads (‘Here Comes a Regular’).

They’ve got a great sound on this album. Westerberg still sounds really young at times (he’ll have been about 25 at this point), but has a really fun, punky hoarseness which is a great counterpoint to his melodicism. The guitars are also punky and pretty abrasive, but more college punk than metal. That said, I think this kind of thing might have influenced Izzy Stradlin‘s rhythm guitar on Appetite for Destruction.

Really enjoyed this one. Compared to the computer speakers I used to listen to this on, listening to the “master quality audio” version on Tidal through my Shures revealed everything in the mix; it’s a lot less thin than I remember, but it doesn’t sound overly remastered (read: compressed). Not the best-produced album ever, but a really good example of mid-80s indie rock sound. I still see why this is such a highly regarded album.

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