...this gritty and melodic album still seems as freshly hewn as ever.
Tim Nelson 2007
Before grunge, alt-country and emo there was the Replacements, among the earliest of American post-punk bands, and, with this album, the first 1980s ‘underground’ band to sign to a major label, pipping peers REM and Husker Du to that particular post. 1985’s Tim caught the band on the cusp between thrashing suburban alienation and vaulting singer-songwriter ambition.
After three albums of hardcore ravers, the previous year’s Let It Be had opened up endless possibilities through the simple act of adding a brace of singer-songwriter Paul Westerberg’s ballads to the expected underground thrash-rock. That record’s success led to the Mats (as they are known by fans) signing with Sire and Tim was an important test-case for survival of the independent spirit in the belly of the commercial beast.
At over twenty years’ distance, the album holds up extremely well, despite some longer-term fans’ concerns over the cleaned-up sound. If producer Tommy Erdelyi (nee Ramone) had arguably gutted rockers like ‘'Bastards Of The Young’' through this approach (the rhythm section were now using a click track and guitarist Bob Stinson was kept in check, only cutting lose on ‘'Dose of Thunder’' and ‘'Lay it Down, Clown’'), then the album nevertheless contained Paul Westerberg’s best overall set of songs, mixing rock anthems like the aforementioned ‘'Bastards Of The Young'’ and the tribute to college radio '‘Left Of The Dial’' with some of his finest chronicles of solitude in ‘'Hold My Life'’, ‘'Swingin’ Party'’ and ‘'Here Comes a Regular'’, as well as the hit-that-should-have-been, ‘'Kiss Me On The Bus''.
The success of Tim inspired contemporaries to follow their lead, and the Mats would later influence countless acts. Tim was also the last album to feature the original line-up, with guitarist Bob Stinson leaving before the following Pleased To Meet Me. If the band subsequently had problems handling greater success, this gritty and melodic album still seems as freshly hewn as ever.