MINNEAPOLIS — Their first choice of producer had gone off the grid. Their second and final producer had gone a little deaf. Their guitar player was falling off the deep end. And the guy who was supposed to mix the album fell off the project.
"It's a bit of a miracle we actually wound up with a full record at all," Tommy Stinson said.
After all that disarray, it should come as no surprise that the album Stinson's old band did wind up with — one that some fans (including yours truly) consider their best — sounds much better after a careful tweaking 38 years later.
Enter "Tim: Let It Bleed Edition," a new box set version of the Replacements' highly influential but also widely nitpicked-over 1985 record, "Tim," released last week via Rhino/Warner Records.
The new four-CD, one-LP edition includes the usual trove of outtakes, demos and live recordings that fans have come to expect after three prior deluxe-edition reissue sets by Minneapolis' unexpectedly popular-as-ever 1980s band. Like the previous handling of the Replacements' 1989 album, "Don't Tell a Soul," though, it also features a whole new remix of the original studio LP — essentially a sonic makeover.
Ed Stasium, who was invited to mix the album in the first place, finally completed the job for this new edition. The New York studio engineer who worked with the Talking Heads and Ramones was a close associate of "Tim's" late producer, Tommy Erdelyi, aka Ramones drummer Tommy Ramone.
As was prone to happen with the Replacements, though, things didn't go as planned. For years now, the final mix of "Tim" has been criticized for sounding flat, muted and muddy, despite featuring some of their best-loved songs such as "Left of the Dial," "Bastards of Young," "Waitress in the Sky" and "Here Comes a Regular."
Not anymore. Stasium's new mix of the album is discernibly cleaner and crisper but also louder and heavier. The guitars and especially the drums are more distinguishable, more in line with a good live mix.
"It's a chance to really hear the record the band made for the first time," said Bob Mehr, the Replacements biographer who co-produced the new reissue. "Stasium went back to the original multitracks and did a mix from scratch that is a revelation sonically."
For Stinson, who'd dropped out of high school to tour as the Replacements' bassist, the "Tim" makeover just made sense.
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