Saturday, April 26, 2008

REPLACEMENTS - Tim LP (Sire/1985)
Funny I should be talking about this 'un. I've never been much of a Replacements cheerleader as such. Just too damn inconsistent for my liking, and to me they always straddled the border of punk- and bar-rock all too closely. As a rock 'n' roll band, they had some really neat-o New York Dolls/'Stones/Heartbreakers moves under their belt, though (in their early days) they didn't amount to much more than a B-grade hardcore act who hastened the pace w/ occasional boozy ballads which struck me as too quaint and "heartland" for my stomach. Still, there are others who would (violently) disagree and all this negativity certainly doesn't wipe 'em out as a band not worthy of consideration, coz here's a record I really like. Tim was their debut for a major - a huge cultural leap at the time - and you can read what I wrote about Husker Du recently for a vague rundown on the cultural vaccuum "indie" bands who jumped ship to the big boys in the '80s felt. It was like a goddamn leap into the abyss, and as was the case w/ Husker Du, it really didn't pay off too well. The band trundled along w/ respectable but minimal sales (for major standards), before limping off into the stratosphere at the dawn of the '90s as a fairly washed up (and horrendously cheesy) act whose best days were behind 'em. I can't blame the band: wrong place, wrong time. If they were starting out today they'd probably be the "New Rock" act on everyone's lips and make a zillion dollars. In their hey-day - the mid '80s - they were caught between the college-rock crowd and the punkers, and they never really clicked w/ either. But anyway, there's Tim. This is a pretty slick effort, but one must understand that in between punishing my eardrums w/ room-clearing noise which appeals to very few people on earth, I still like a good rock 'n' roll tune, and Tim hits the spot. It's the Replacements' most consistent album, easy, and despite the mersh nature of some of its tuneage, the depth of songwriting still holds it up as the only Replacements album I ever still bother to play. For starters, it features the best Replacements song there is - "Left Of The Dial" - a song so popular it's inspired magazines, radio shows and Rhino box sets after its name. It's the kinda rock anthem they oughta play during sports games, or perhaps during tender moments in John Cusack films. The ultimate New Wave heart-starter, to these ears it brings to mind The Boss singing for the Only Ones, and whilst that hardly sounds like a ringing endorsement (even though I like both!), the hooks, breakdowns and rollicking leaps back into the verse make it a song which will tap the feet of even the biggest cynic (which ain't me, believe it or not). There's some other non-hits which are up to the same standard: "Hold My Life", "Bastards Of Young", "Little Mascara"; and a few slow numbers you can dance with your partner to: "Here Comes A Regular" and "Kiss Me On The Bus". It's all very bloody good. If I had to omit one track, I'd make it "Dose Of Thunder", a bombastic thud which unfortunately shows the Kiss-like tendencies the band occasionally lapsed into (they abominated "Black Diamond" on '84's Let It Be). I know of people who still think the Replacements were the great American band of the '80s. Me, I wouldn't even put 'em in the race, though Tim is certainly worth the trouble and then some.

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