Back in April, when Rhino Records revamped the Replacements’ sonically slovenly first four albums (recorded for the Twin/Tone label), I held out hope that the reissue house would do likewise to the remainder of the band’s catalog. Its Sire Records releases, that is: college-rock classics “Tim” (1985) and “Pleased to Meet Me” (1987), the slicker though not entirely emptier “Don’t Tell a Soul” (1989) and the group’s back-to-basics swan song, “All Shook Down” (1990).
Well, ask and ye shall receive. All four are slated to arrive in spiffy expanded editions on Sept. 23, at which time the entire ‘Mats catalog will be available at all download outlets for the first time. Although I’m not sure what’s more of a selling point - to have Paul Westerberg’s most memorable material (apart from 1984’s “Let It Be”) brought up to modern audio standards or to savor more detritus that didn’t surface on the 1997 best-of-plus-leftovers “All for Nothing/Nothing for All.”
I ‘spose it depends on which disc we’re talking.
“Tim” sports early drafts of “Here Comes a Regular,” the snarky novelty “Waitress in the Sky” and the wonderful “Can’t Hardly Wait.” “Pleased to Meet Me” boasts a few nutty covers (“Tossin’ and Turnin’,” “Route 66?), rarities like “Election Day” and alternate takes on “Alex Chilton” and “Valentine.” “Don’t Tell a Soul” rescues their version of “Cruella DeVille” from the notable, atmospheric Disney tribute “Stay Awake” (which is well worth tracking down) and includes demos of “Talent Show” and “We’ll Inherit the Earth” plus a remake of Slade’s “Gudbuy T’Jane.” “All Shook Down,” meanwhile, will now feature early versions of just about every cut on the album, including the perfectly titled “Sadly Beautiful.”
I could make a case for owning all of them - even “Soul,” which isn’t half as vapid as its reputation would suggest and does actually include the band’s one bona fide hit, “I’ll Be You.” But if you’re on a budget, or browsing through the past ... well, you need to start with “Let It Be.” “Tim” and “Pleased,” however, remain just as essential.
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