I get a new turntable and dust off some old records. Vinyl Tap #10:
It was Elvis Costello who once announced that he wanted to bite the hand that feeds him. But the Replacements made a meal of it, and it had nothing to do with the time I saw them live — and intermittingly upright — in a not untypical and increasingly drunken performance that ended up with a presumably satiated Paul Westerberg flat on his back singing “Yummy, Yummy, Yummy I Got Love In My Tummy.”
Even with Tim, the 1985 major label debut that sported enough throwback indie attitude and rough-around-the edges raucousness of its own, the band didn't go the traditional route when it came to showcasing their new material. They certainly didn‘t endear themselves to Sire or MTV with their impishly-conceived video for “Bastards Of Young” — which consisted of a single sustained shot of a stereo speaker playing the song. It didn’t necessarily bear repeat viewings but it was good for an appreciative guffaw or two for just the idea alone — and I don’t think the Replacements were looking for heavy rotation, anyway.
With Tim, the band expands upon the versatility and promise of its previous release, Let It Be --exemplified as it was by Westerberg’s running-it-up-the-flagpole songwriting range and its raw, loose-ends execution — and solidified that power and passion in the newer release with a more cohesive and coherent end result. The fleshing-out of the poignancy of the aching “Sixteen Blue,” the despair that rings true in “Unsatisfied,” the accessible pop-rock elements of “I Will Dare,” the celebratory and gloriously slop-fest rave-up that comprised “Favorite Thing” — it is not so much that the musicianship, thematic sensibilities and insight found in these songs match-up and find parallel expression in counterpart tracks on Tim.
It's more that Tim spotlights Westerberg’s ever-emergent development as a song craftsman, musically and lyrically, on this production by former Ramone Tommy Erdelyi — who cleans up the sound without sacrificing too much of the sonic slapdash immediacy of earlier Replacement albums. Westerberg's artistic growth is evident throughout, and so an aptly intentional “why don’t you all f-f-fade away” frustration at the heart of the earlier “Unsatisfied” finds clearer, more articulate expression in Tim’s “Bastards Of Young”:
God, what a mess, on the ladder of success
Where you take one step and miss the whole first rung
Dreams unfulfilled, graduate unskilled
It beats pickin' cotton and waitin' to be forgotten.