Thursday, October 02, 2008
Despite my complaints about Rhino's remaster of Pleased To Meet Me, I went ahead and picked up the reissue of Tim as well. I'm glad I did. To make a long story short, they got this one right.
I wish I could compare the remaster to my original LP, but I can't. Years ago I loaned my LP copy of Tim to a friend who made the mistake of leaving it locked in his Ford Fiesta on a hot day. When he returned it to me it was warped to the point of being unplayable. I replaced the LP with a new-fangled CD, but I have never been happy with the way the album sounded on CD.
The remaster makes for a much more satisfying listen than the older CD (which was probably issued a couple years after the album was released on LP and cassette). The older CD suffered from the kind of thin and tinny sound I often associate with CDs from the mid 80s (which is what initially turned me off about the medium). Tommy Erdelyi's production had a tinny quality to it anyway, and the flaws in the original CD only exacerbated the problem. The remaster, while preserving the original qualities of the recording, sounds richer and fuller. So yeah, the snare drum still sounds like it's being channeled through a tin can, but it least it sounds like it's coming from a bigger tin can.
Unlike the Pleased To Meet Me remaster, Rhino preserved the dynamic range of the original this time. Yes, the volume is boosted a bit compared to the older CD, but I see (and hear) little, if any, evidence of dynamic range compression. Likewise, the dynamic shifts between songs have been preserved on this remaster (the quiet songs don't sound as loud as the loud ones). I'll try to post images when I get a chance, but for now you'll have to take my word for it.
Tim was the first Replacements album I bought, and as such holds a special place in my heart. And I have to say, nostalgia aside, I still think it's a kick ass album. Look at that album cover. What the fuck is that? It's awesome. And the songs. Nearly every song on this album is killer. Yes, the hard-rock numbers "Dose Of Thunder" and "Lay It Down Clown" sound a little forced. But even though "Clown" is the weakest song on the album, it still contains the classic line "the only exercise you get is the shakes" (which I have to believe was written about Bob Mould). You can't entirely slag a track with a line like that. Every other song on the album is a bona-fide classic.
I'd go so far as to say that it is very difficult to think of a run of classic albums as strong as the Replacements had from Let It Be through Pleased To Meet Me. Maybe the Stones from Beggar's Banquet through Exile On Main Street were better. But as great as those Stones albums were, I'll always have more affection for the Replacements, because they were a band that I felt belonged to me, not to some bunch of sell-out old farts whose primary pleasure in life seem to consist of lecturing me about how much cooler everything was when they were my age. On these albums Paul Westerberg and his crew spoke directly to the issues and concerns of alienated kids coming of age in the late 80s in a way that "classic rock" couldn't.
Little things: There's a little less bonus material on Tim, but what's there is great. As others have noted, the short bit of studio chatter that precedes "Left of the Dial" has been eliminated on the remaster (personally, on a scale of 1-10 this rates somewhere between 0-1 as a concern for me, although I realize others feel differently). "Nowhere Is My Home" an Alex Chilton produced track previously only available on the Boink! EP is clearly sourced from vinyl (it doesn't say so in the liner notes, but I guarantee it). I have no problem with this whatsoever. The truth is, sometimes a vinyl copy is the best source available. I'd rather hear a good vinyl transcription over an attempt to reconstruct a deteriorated master tape any day. (And who knows, maybe this is one of those masters sitting at the bottom of the Mississippi?) They got the cover image right, with yellow text that matches the original LP art instead of the white text on the old CD (that always bugged me more than it probably should have). The liner notes by Bob Mehr are first-rate, shedding a lot of light on Westerberg's songwriting and the creative tensions within the band at the time.
This goes a long way toward restoring my faith in Rhino as a premier reissue label and trustworthy guardian of our musical legacy. This reissue is a nice, I would say essential, upgrade. Oh yeah, one more thing: Hey kids, things were so much cooler when I was your age.