The Replacements - Tim

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Tim cover The Replacements were the quintessential rock band of the 80's. They lived the full wild out-of-control rock star life style and produced wild barely-in-control music to match. Their early albums were choppy, loud, all over the place, and wonderful. The album right before this one, Let It Be, was the first one where the `Mats leashed in some of that raw energy and allowed their musicianship and Paul Westerberg's songwriting skills to shine through.

By Tim, they had adjusted to this (only slightly) more controlled style and they produced a masterpiece. From the kicky pop opener Hold My Life to the fading refrain of Here Come's a Regular, this album flat out rocks. The style shifts a bit, through raging hard-rock songs like Dose of Thunder and Bastards of Young, to pop like Kiss Me On The Bus and folk-pop like Waitress in the Sky.

Westerberg has a knack for writing catchy melodies and clever lyrics. For example, from Bastards of Young:

The ones who love us best are the ones we'll lay to rest.
We'll visit their graves on holidays at best.
The ones who love us least are the ones we'll die to please.
If it's any consolation, I don't begin to understand them.

This sort of poignancy is one of the things that sets the Replacements above most bands. Where most bands tend to be focused in one area, either poignant sensitive stuff, funny stuff, or some showy topic like death-rock, the `Mats can alternate between introspection, brashness, and humor. As an example of the latter, Waitress in the Sky is about flight attendants who have too high an opinion of themselves.

Paid my fare, don't want to complain.
You get to me, you're always out of champagne.
Treat me like a bum, don't wear no tie,
well you ain't nothin' but a waitress in the sky.

I'm sure Paul Westerberg get's treated like a king on planes after that one. :-)

The first song I ever heard by the Replacements is Little Mascara, and it's still one of my favorites on the album. It's got a very straightforward rock-song structure, with verses, choruses, and a screaming lead solo. The lyrics are good, though not his best; it's about a dumped woman:

All you ever wanted was someone to take care of `ya.
All you're ever losing is a little mascara.

The two slow ballads on the album both deal with loneliness. Here Comes a Regular is about being one of the regulars at a bar, but the melancholy feel of the song doesn't make you feel that they're a big happy family like on Cheers. The short piano solo grabs your heart like a fond memory that you can barely recall, but are clinging to with all your life. Swingin Party is about not fitting in with the hip crowd.

If being wrong's a crime I'm serving forever.
If being strong's your kind, then I need help here with this feather.
If being afraid is a crime, we'd hang side by side
at the swingin' party down the line.

These sort of songs are really what distinguish Tim (and Let it Be and Pleased to Meet Me as well) from the first couple of albums. In those earlier albums, they stuck to the brash style songs ("power trash" in their words). On Tim, they kept that energy and that feel, but added songs to theirrepertoire that made them seem more intelligent and human. They were still wild rock-n-roll party boys, but now they were wild rock-n-roll party boys with a soul.

Replacements in Concert

If you're interested, you can listen to samples of some of the songs here. If you really like it, you can even buy it there.

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