This is an installment of a series of blogs where I revisit some classic albums that I love, used to love or has made an impact on pop culture whether I am familiar with it or not. You can also make suggestions on a classic album, and I may give a whirl and review it.
This week marked the first time in about 28 years that the legendary Minneapolis punk band, The Replacements, performed on NBC. The last time they performed, obviously a little inebriated , “Saturday Night Live” executive producer Lorne Michaels banned them from performing again on his show. Why? Because they did what a lot of they were known for back then, getting drunk and putting shows. People who I’ve spoken to who have seen these shows often claim they were amazing, but a quick Youtube check on these shows tell me otherwise. But, to each their own.
Well, even though Michaels is part of Jimmy Fallon’s “Tonight Show,” it looks like his ban was lifted Tuesday night when the Mats (the fans’ nickname for the group) performed on the show, a much more sober Mats than the ones from the 80s.
That got me thinking about my favorite Mats album, “Tim.” It was the second in the trilogy of great Mats albums, beginning with “Let It Be” and ending with “Pleased To Meet Me.” This was the era when they were growing out of the garage punk age and before Paul Westerberg just began making solo albums and calling them Replacements albums (I’m looking at you “All Shook Down”).
The Replacements were one of those bands who, if they had come out a decade later, would have been up there with Nirvana and Peal Jam. But The Replacements, in my opinion, laid out the blue print for what would become 90s grunge. You can especially hear their influence in Nirvana’s material.
“Tim” is really they’re most solid album. I know a lot of people stand by “Let It Be,” which is really close in terms of song quality and performances. I mean, “Unsatisfied” is one of my all time favorite songs. But I still think “Tim” has that album beat.
Produced by the late Tommy Ramone, whose production actually was just awful, “Tim” is an album with a really strong songlist that suffers mostly from its production quality. It was also their first major label release. The drums sound like wet cardboard and it sounds flat. Not that the production makes it unlistenable, but it certainly doesn’t help the songs in any way.
What “Tim” accomplishes is combining the punk angst with melodic songs all mixed together. The first two tracks, “Hold My Life” and “I’ll Buy” is a great example of this. Then you get to “Waitress In The Sky” which is basically nice little pop song with nice tongue-in-cheek lyrics.
That is followed by the incredibly depressing but beautiful “Swinging Party” and the song that sums up my love of the Mats, “Bastards Of Young.” The latter was the song they performed on SNL that got them banned.
The album closes with what can only be considered the perfect depressing dive bar song, “Here Comes A Regular.” It’s not a very optimistic song, but then again, I can’t think of any optimistic songs from the Mats.
This would also be the last album with original guitarist Bob Stinson. His drinking and clashing with singer and songwriter Paul Westerberg would cause him to be let go. He passed away in 1995.
But the Mats are back (minus Slim Dunlap, who replaced Bob Stinson, and Chris Mars). Based on their performance on the “Tonight Show” and from what I’ve seen of their live shows since reuniting in 2012, they seems to be in much better shape than all those years ago.
“Tim” remains my favorite of their albums. Just a really great collection of songs and performances. I enjoy it as much as when I first heard it.