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.

UFC on ESPN 10: Eye vs. Calvillo

I’m glad I checked this was an ESPN show in America prior to writing it up. The card was a lot of fun, as it happened, but I can’t imagine anyone would have paid for it, had it been a pay per view. Given that it wasn’t a PPV, it was actually a really smartly put together show. Kudos to the UFC for that.

Cynthia Calvillo impressed, winning comfortably by decision over Jessica Eye in her flyweight debut. Nice skills and power on show. Not sure what it really says about Eye, mind you. But solid scrap to headline.

More impressive was Marvin Vettori taking out his frustrations against an outmatched Karl Roberson. There was some controversy heading into this one: they were supposed to fight a month before, but Roberson missed weight, then got sick, leading to Vettori losing his rag at him in a hotel foyer. Pretty embarrassing for both. Roberson spun it as Vettori being mentally weak for getting so angry in public and having to be physically restrained. Vettori vice versa at Roberson’s ignominious drop out.

As it happened, Roberson missed weight by even more for this fight but pressed on with it. Maybe he shouldn’t have! I don’t know if it was the yoyo-ing weight or whether Vettori was just too good for him, but it can’t have been a fun four minutes before Vettori choked him out from behind for an impressive stoppage win.

Also impressive was Mariya Agapova, who dismissed Hannah Cifers halfway through round one. Agapova was too *everything* for Cifers, who was having her worst night since getting blasted by Maycee Barber in late 2018… or maybe since Mackenzie Dern kneebarred her the other week. I guess she’s not top of the food chain, but Agapova still impressed, getting the tapout much like Vettori: with a sweet rear naked choke. Maybe you shouldn’t be asked to fight a few weeks after a loss…

Andre “Touchy” Fili beat Charles “Air” Jourdain by decision in the battle of the best ringnames. Sadly, the fight wasn’t as memorable as the names. Same for Jordan “Not Air” Espinosa judging the heck out of Mark De La Rosa. I wish I could remember something from that fight. Maybe these two were drowned out by the awesomeness of the…


Merab Dvalishvili vs. Gustavo Lopez

I like a nice scary fighter from the former Soviet Union, any day. Merab’s now based in Long Island, and he kind of looks like a Long Island guy. Lots of fence grabbing from Lopez, as Merab utterly owns him in the grappling. Slightly surprised this went the distance, though Merab rarely actually had Lopez close to a finish. I think that was good defence from Lopez, as Merab was trying a lot. He took Lopez down at will, really impressively, and had a decent side headlock/neck crank in the second. But he seemed to peter out in the third. Obviously he won, mind. Maybe all the grappling and sweet takedowns tired him out a bit. Very much one to watch, anyway.

Zaarrukh Adashev vs. Tyson Nam

Adashev comes in with everyone talking about how great he is at kickboxing, as we see a bunch of Glory Kickboxing highlights. Not many MMA fights, but lots of striking skill! Then unheralded Hawaiian Nam puts him to sleep with an overhand right after Nam eats a speculative leg kick. If this guy is such an amazing kickboxer, why were his hands flapping about after throwing a low kick? But yeah, never look past a Hawaiian in a fight. Sub-minute again.

Gina Mazany vs. Julia Avila

Avila big favourite here. We very clearly see why. Avila seemed to hit harder in the brief firefight, backed her up with a knee to the body, then just blasted on her while Mazany turtled. Impressive win. 

Christian Aguilera vs. Anthony Ivy

Christian Aguilera should probably have the ring name “Genie in a Bottle”, but is instead “The Beast”. Not very original. Anthony Ivy is “Aquaman”. I mean, come on: “Poison” was right there! He could have walked out to an Alice Cooper power ballad and everything. I suppose he likes water, or mediocre superheroes. Both were making their UFC debuts, and Aguilera did the business against Ivy, making him flinch and throwing a solid right to Ivy’s temple. He followed it up with a cursory combo, but mainly clubbing blows with the right hand like he was the Warlord on a 1991 episode of WWF Wrestling Challenge. Good sub-minute (-mariner?) stoppage though. 

End Hits

Today’s album: End Hits, by Fugazi (1998)

I don’t think I realised, back when I bought this, how life changing it really was. I also didn’t realise, when I saw it get full marks in magazines ranging from Kerrang! to Terrorizer, what it actually sounded like.

In my head, it was quite abrasive. Like Helmet or Biohazard. Shouty, but not metal. Not as far along the continuum as early Machine Head or Chaos AD-era Sepultura. I got it, and ‘Break’ came on: a brief, almost jolly, song that seemed not to be of much import. Ah, maybe I wasted my allowance?

[A year on (during which I managed to annoy my fellow sixth form English students by playing this in the van up from Stratford Upon Avon – immediate this ain’t), and I’m obsessed with Fugazi. Me and the crew are seeing them at Leeds Met*. We’ve just been given flyers for a new skate/punk records shop opening up. It’s called Wisdom (skating)/Out of Step (music), and we’re just going to call it Wilson because of the typography on the sign. I’m also going to spend a lot of money there, but be unable to single handedly keep it open. For what it’s worth, I did get at least two of this series from there (but this one was from Way Ahead).]

Wow, I’m rambling, even by my standards. But this is important! I’d heard punk rock before, but I’d not felt it. The punk rock feeling, rather than just playing fast. But this odd record, with in hindsight post-rockiness, very mellow songs, the odd thrasher, but mainly really frigging interesting, engaging tracks with incredible arrangements – not least between the two guitarists MacKaye and Picciotto, who at this point had a similar kind of telepathic bond that the rhythm section already seemed to have developed.

This was the first new album I bought on vinyl. I stuck the inlay sheet up on my bedroom door, with its ‘COMMITTED TO EXCELLENCE’ sign. I’d go to bat for any of their albums from 1993 to 1998 (and to a lesser extent, all of them ever). But this is where it all seems to fit together perfectly. I know it’s different for every Fugazi fan. Like Swans, Fugazi have always seemed to just be different from everyone else.

Recap Modotti – just listen to the damn bassline!

* turns out you can buy a recording of that gig:

Jane Doe

Today’s record: Jane Doe by Converge (2001)

I resisted this!

It will shock you to learn that I can be contrary at times. (Right?) By 2001 I was a bit annoyed with metal. I joined, and was thoroughly disappointed by, the “rock soc” at university. Metal was everywhere, in the shape of Limp Bizkit, Disturbed and Linkin Park, and non-metal people were wearing Motorhead and AC/DC t-shirts. It was over.
So obviously, any metal that came out in that time couldn’t be good. I resisted this.

My man Rich Bee made me a MiniDisc compilation around that time (I think it was called “I like being thanked). On it, among other delights, was ‘Concubine’, by Converge.

I remember being on the platform at Manchester Piccadilly station one Saturday morning, on the way back to Leeds. During the wait, I played ‘Concubine’. When it finished, I skipped back to the start of the song. It was quite a long wait, and the song is about 90 seconds long. I listened to it many times.

Still I resisted the album.

But it is amazing. I think it won a few plaudits for best metal album of the noughties, and I probably wouldn’t fight that. It’s about a very messy breakup, and not only is the singer very upset, but it sounds like the rest of the band is upset for him. Like REALLY UPSET. But still able to articulate the upset, for the most part, and in a really technically accomplished manner.

Every song is insane, and heavy and noisy, but in different ways. you’ve got the hardcore fury of ‘Concubine’, you’ve got songs of almost white noise, you’ve got the epic, bizarrely melodic ten minute dry heave of anguish that is the title track.
But my favourites are when they just put the pedal to the metal, and rock more than you ever thought anyone could. ‘Homewrecker’ and the beautifully-named ‘Heaven in Her Arms’ are just unfairly good, especially when the latter gives you a false finish before lurching into reverse to run over your prone body like in the Righteous Gemstones.