The Replacements - Tim
Record Label: Sire Records
Release Date: October 1985
Few bands can claim to have released two seminal masterpieces back to back, but Minneapolis' the Replacements did just that in 1985, with Tim, the follow-up to the critically-acclaimed Let It Be, released the previous year. And while Let It Be found the band maturing past their grittier beginnings, Tim was a step even further away from the days of one-minute-song punk fury. Frontman Paul Westerberg's numerous influences, ranging from Roy Orbison to Alex Chilton to Chuck Berry, became more apparent the time around too. From songs like "Kiss Me On the Bus", with it's jangly, rockabilly-inspired solo to the blues swing of "Waitress In the Sky", Tim found the Replacements at the peak of their creativity; unafraid to expand beyond expectation. Of course, this was still, at their core, the same 'Mats that their fans had come to know and love. The songs still dealt with all manner of social rejects and rain dogs, seemingly unable to function properly amongst civilized society, a long-standing element in Westerberg's lyrics. From the barn-burning "Bastards Of Young" to the tear-jerking "Here Comes a Regular", indeed, there was a bit of something for everyone on Tim, and it all meshed perfectly.
In addition to being perhaps the band's best work to date, Tim also acted as catalyst for a sort of new found "fame" for the Replacements. While they were still a relatively obscure alternative rock band, the album did spawn their biggest television appearance to date as the musical guest on Saturday Night Live, a now iconic moment in rock history, as they would be banned from ever playing the show again, due to their reckless behavior. Another first for the group was their music video for "Bastards Of Young", aired on MTV. Featuring simply a stationary, single-angle shot of a speaker, over the shoulder of an unidentified man who later kicks it in, the video's unconventional nature was typical of the Replacements, and displayed that despite maturing, their sardonic wit and disregard for mainstream culture was still well in tact.
Despite this new sense of success (or something resembling it), things would not go entirely well for the band. Soon after the album's release, founding member and lead guitarist Bob Stinson would be fired, mostly due to his alcoholism, a habit that would wear heavily on him until his death in 1995. And while the albums that were to follow were, in their own respective rights all great efforts, Tim was the pinnacle of their career; the last time the original line-up would record an entire album together before disintegrating in an all-too appropriate fashion that echoed the band's ever-present sense of disorder and disarray. All of this cast aside, it stands to this day as a must-own in any music aficionado's library, and will continue to do so for generations to come.