Phases and Stages

The Replacements

Tim (Sire/Rhino)

The Replacements

Pleased to Meet Me (Sire/Rhino)

The Replacements

Don't Tell a Soul (Sire/Rhino)

The Replacements

All Shook Down (Sire/Rhino)

Who needs a Replacements box when the group's catalog gets such a makeover? This quartet of LPs takes up where Rhino left off with the Minneapolis quartet's first four albums earlier this year, closing the story admirably with 35 bonus tracks spread throughout, as well as liner notes and repackaging to match. The backstory's all too familiar: Critical faves with a devoted following sign to a big label, but when the much desired breakthrough fails to materialize, the band implodes. What's surprising is how opinions of these discs have changed over time. 1985's Tim remains a masterwork, but by today's standards, Tommy "Ramone" Erdelyi's production sounds thin. Dare you not to bounce along with "Kiss Me on the Bus" or nearly shed a tear to "Here Comes a Regular," though. Tacked-on original demos, some produced by Alex Chilton, are likeable but not life altering. Some prefer 1987's Pleased to Meet Me, and with tunes such as "The Ledge" and "Can't Hardly Wait," it's hard to disagree. Still, without original guitarist Bob Stinson, who left after touring behind Tim, the handwriting for the 'Mats was on the wall. PTMM bonus cuts include typically odd covers of "Route 66" and Western standard "Cool Water." The slicked-up production of 1989's Don't Tell a Soul had detractors screaming sellout, but the LP remains memorable for a couple of Paul Westerberg's finest tunes, "I'll Be You" and "We'll Inherit the Earth." Tom Waits appears on the gospel-y "Date to Church," included in the bonus material, and probably left some mojo for an unrestrained take of Slade's "Gudbuy T' Jane." Time has served 1990's All Shook Down the best. Essentially Westerberg's first solo work, featuring session work by John Cale, Steve Berlin, Johnette Napolitano, and Benmont Tench, it's laid-back and pensive, typified by "Sadly Beautiful." The exceptional solo demos tacked on make it the one fans might check out first.

(Tim; Pleased to Meet Me) ****

(All Shook Down) ***.5

(Don't Tell a Soul) ***

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