The Replacements's Tim was The 'Mats' fourth full-length album, and their first major-label record. Produced by former Ramone Tommy Ramone, the album gets a lot of criticism for having lackluster production that doesn't highlight Bob Stinson's shit-hot guitar heroics like the previous albums did. The critics have a point, as the band does sound relatively weak compared to their previous, more punk-influenced sound.
Tim was 'Mats singer/songwriter Paul Westerberg's biggest leap away from the previous Replacements sound, even though 1984's Let It Be, arguably the Replacements' best record, (though Tim is certainly a contender) was incredibly stylistically diverse, especially for a punk band, with strong country and jangle-pop influences, particularly on I Will Dare and Unsatisfied. However, while Let It Be was a drunken, carefree punk rock band breaking into maturity, diversity, and a powerful sense of heartfelt sincerity with surprising ease and assurance, (as well as a kickass rock attitude), Tim is a much darker record. Painful and soaked in alcohol and melancholia, Tim was the last showcase for Bob Stinson, and a rather depressing finale, as Bob's guitar sounds neutered and weak. However, Tim was also the height of Paul Westerberg's songwriting, as he weaves influences like Big Star and the finest lyrics of his career into his band's ragged punk sound, making the album the strongest contender for the Replacements' most epic and "classic" album, although Let It Be is just as good, or possibly better.
The album kicks off with Hold My Life a gorgeous and sloppy rocker, with Paul tossing out his trademark witty, yet self-deprecating lines like "Hold my life, until I'm ready to use it, hold my life, because I just might lose it." Paul's performance is mumbly and most likely heavily intoxicated, but it's just about as heartfelt and passionate as you could possibly ask for.
The second track is the rockabilly-flavored I'll Buy, a throwback to the band's younger, more carefree rock n' roll days, but with Paul up there charming up the microphone and 17-year old bassist Tommy Stinson showing why he was probably the youngest bass hero in rock history.
Next is the fabulous Kiss Me On The Bus, with its ringing guitar tone and lyrics like "Ooh, if you knew how I felt now, you wouldn't act so adult now!" and "On the bus, watch my reflection, on the bus, I can't stand no rejection!" Possibly Paul's goal here was to emulate his hero, Alex Chilton, but no Big Star song has ever matched the smirking wit and sly, self-mocking tone of Paul's masterful try.
Dose of Thunder is a rather tepid and dull hard rocker that just seems like an excuse to get Bob to solo a bit, but it sounds hokey and out of place on such a dark record. A later track, Lay It Down Clown, is similarly mediocre. Fans tend to lump them together as "The two songs on Tim that suck" or "More proof that Paul is a frustratingly inconsistent songwriter."
The next track is similarly jokey and not-quite serious, but unlike Dose of Thunder, Waitress In The Sky is a sarcastic, fun little country romp with handclaps and put-downs of snooty airline waitresses who want to be called "flight attendants." The song features lines like "Sanitation expert and a maintenance engineer, garbage man, a janitor, and you, my dear."
The dark and mopey Swingin' Party takes its place at the top of Paul Westerberg's repertoire of great rock ballads, with its unbeatable melody and another batch of witty lyrics. "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 hang side by side at the swingin' party down the line."
The epic masterpiece Bastards of Young is Tim's centerpiece, a roaring riff-rocker with one of the band's most powerful, passionate performances, and possibly Paul's finest lyricism ever, as well as Bob's last chance to shine, when he lays down the classic scorching intro riff. "The ones that love us best, are the ones we lay to rest, and visit their graves on holidays at best. The ones that love us least are the ones we'll die to please, if it's any consolation, I don't begin to understand them.
Sadly, the mediocre Lay It Down Clown is sandwiched between the two finest tracks, with hardly a hook at all. The song's only saving grace is the line "The only exercise you ever get is the shakes!"
However, after that track is the ridiculously anthemic Left Of The Dial, one of the finest songs ever written, with it's powerful intro and trimuphant finale. It even has a guest vocal from Paul's hero, Alex Chilton! "Little girl keep growin' up, playin' makeup, wearin' guitar, growin' old in a bar, you grow old in bar. Headin' out to San Francisco, definitely not L.A., didn't mention your name."
Along with Left Of The Dial and the next track, Little Mascara forms possibly the greatest 3-song stretch in rock history. Little Mascara is a rough-throated rock ballad written to some imaginary girl, with one of Westerberg's finest and simplest hooks."All you ever wanted, was someone to take care o' ya. All you're ever losin' is a little mascara."
<]> The album finishes on the darkest note of all, the achin' Here Comes A Regular
, a final ode to Bob Stinson, written from another soul that truly understands alcoholism. Coming from a band so known for their messy, inebriated
performances and heavy indulgences
, a song that warns of the perils of alcoholism should surely be taken seriously. The song is simply Paul and an acoustic guitar, pouring
out his regret and lamenting the loss of his friend. Bob would die from drug and alcohol-related circumstances 10 years after this song was written."Kneeling alongside old Sad Eyes, he says opportunity knocks once then the door slams shut. All I know is I'm sick of everything that my money can buy. The fool who wastes his life, God rest his guts."
Tim is a collection of dark and depressing, yet anthemic rock songs, from a criminally underlooked band who should truly be regarded as one of the greatest rock bands of all time. From the opening power chords and messy mumbles of Hold My Life to the final suspended open chords of Here Comes A Regular, the album is truly an emotional rollercoaster, and certainly one of the greatest albums of all time. There is so much within this record to talk about that I cannot mention it all, but that only leaves more surprises for the listener.
...and if I don't see ya, for a long while, I'll try to find you, Left Of The Dial!There's no writeup for shit-hot?? For shame!