Remixes and remasters are somewhat contentious topics among music listeners. On the one hand, bringing modern technology to help improve the production of an older release made in the pre-laptop era sounds like a good idea. Yet, this rather simple refinement can result in creative decisions that can not only turn off long-time fans but can impact the true essence behind the record. This past year, The Stooges came out with a 50th anniversary remaster of Raw Power that cleaned up the overall production of the album and as a result, took away a lot of the violent and visceral impact that the record initially had. Yes, the sound is less harsh, but the record itself was not written to sound soft. The Stooges understood the production limitations of the time and carefully crafted a product that would push those limitations to the breaking point–impacting listeners' ears like a locomotive.
However, none of these issues stated above exist with the Ed Stasium mix on the new “Let it Bleed” remaster of the classic The Replacements album Tim. When looking at the original mix of Tim, the sounds are more buried as the drums are weaker and the basslines are inaudible. There is a head-scratching use of digital reverb that drowns out any additional instruments as the audio range of the album is flattened immensely to destroy the sonic dimension. Looking back at the album, I didn’t even realize that there were strings on “Here Comes a Regular” until I heard the new mix. The production choices read perfectly like one of the many attempts The Replacements made throughout their career to prevent themselves from gaining any amount of mainstream popularity. Unlike their “non-music video” which is a recording of a radio playing “Bastard’s of Young”, or their decision to wear skirts on stage for their Saturday Night Live Performance, the weak production is not subversive or interesting and frankly gets in the way of creative decisions.
I’m not saying that the original edition of Tim isn’t a great record. Paul Westerberg, the leader of The Replacements, understood profoundly the plight of Gen Xers. He shows this through his intimate and relatable songwriting. Altogether, the album has zero lulls and is jam-packed full of anthemic singalongs expressed through Westerberg’s creative songwriting. The Replacements were a mess of a band, so equally the messy production of their albums has a certain amount of charm tied to them. Despite all of this any wishes for the old mix will be over as soon as one hears the guitar solo at the end of “I’ll Buy” or the superb bassline on “Swingin Party”. This new mix is not a piece of “clean” production as it would not be a good mix if there was not still some lo-fi rawness preserved. A production like this would never be confused with a release by a contemporary like “Van Halen” or “Mötley Crüe”. The new mix is revelatory in how it displays the artistic statement The Replacements always intended to make. Thanks to modern-day remixes and remasters, The Replacements now have a second masterpiece, joining Let It Be, as one of the best LPs of the 1980s.
Check out the New Mix Here: https://open.spotify.com/album/2LJSizYgFPP6gP9O3YDBy1?si=q6CPiDnfQKOQhGyHeawIew