Dead Man’s Pop

Bob Mehr’s Facebook July 19 post about the release of “Dead Man’s Pop” (yes, I know I’m behind the times):

A bit of “personal news” as they say. This morning The Replacements and Rhino announced the release DEAD MAN’S POP, the first ever ‘Mats box set. I was lucky enough to have produced the project (along with the estimable and ever diligent Jason Jones of Rhino) and wrote the liner notes. There’s a funny bit of backstory as to how this set came about…which, like the band, started in a basement in South Minneapolis.

In late 2014, Slim Dunlap’s wonderful wife Chrissie Dunlap was cleaning out the basement of the couple’s house when she came upon a stash of Ampex reels hidden in a cupboard. She realized, based on the songs and dates, that these were Replacements tapes from the “Don’t Tell A Soul” era. After sessions at Cherokee and Capitol in Los Angeles with producer Matt Wallace, the band had finished tracking the record at Prince’s Paisley Park studios in the fall of 1988 – at which time they absconded with a handful of reels, reels that included Wallace’s unreleased “quick mix” of record, and a session the ‘Mats had earlier cut with Tom Waits while in California.

Upon this discovery, Chrissie asked Slim if they should call and alert someone to the fact that they had these tapes, to which Slim replied, “No!” Asked why, he said “I don’t want to go to jail!” (as you can see, Slim still has his sense of humor very much intact). Credit really has to go to Slim for saving these tapes rather than, say, tossing them in a large body of water. But he’s always had great foresight — “Slim’s a smart son of a country lawyer” as Paul Westerberg once told me.

Likely because I have earned my PhD in Replacements studies, I was dispatched by the band’s management to retrieve the tapes in early 2015. I brought them back to Memphis where we had them transferred (fittingly enough) at Ardent Studios.

Listening back to Matt’s original (if admittedly hurried, somewhat incomplete) Paisley Park mix it was clear that a far different version of “Don’t Tell a Soul” actually existed than the one that had been mixed by Chris-Lord Alge and released in 1989.

It’s worth noting here that the released version, the Lord-Alge mix, is a fine LP – and was, quite frankly, the more commercial and radio-geared record that needed to be released in 1989 to keep the band afloat. But, the truth is, it didn’t *sound* much like the album the Replacements had recorded. Over time, I think that fact became clear and the record’s reputation suffered somewhat. In the end, “Don’t Tell A Soul” would become The Replacements’ best-selling album, and also their most divisive. A perfect encomium for a band built on such contradictions.

It also became clear that a new package, built around a version of DTAS the way the band and Matt had wanted it to sound, would be a good idea (this was a desire that Westerberg had expressed many times over the years). But, of course, there was more, including other much discussed but little heard recordings from the era, like the band’s first attempt at making DTAS in Bearsville with Tony Berg, and the Waits session. On top of that there was the Inconcerated live show, from Milwaukee in 1989, of which only five songs had ever been heard previously.

After many fits and starts and lot of legwork, we finally got the okay to push ahead with the box set this year from the band and from the good folks at Rhino Records.

This past May, Matt Wallace finished the job he’d started 31 years earlier, finally completing the mix of the record, which is called, “Don’t Tell a Soul Redux.” As I wrote in the liners, while it’s impossible to unhear a record that’s been around for three decades, this version is the album the band made and intended to release. In addition to Wallace’s mix, “Redux” also restores several crucial elements from the sessions, including original drum tracks, vocal takes and tempos that were altered in post-production and the band’s original sequence of the album. Matt’s new mix finally brings out all the sounds that were committed to tape – along with the Replacements’ singular spirit, humor and passion.

The man, the myth, Brian Kehew — who mixed “Live at Maxwell’s 1986” for us — was brought back onto the team to help mix the bulk of the material that appears on the disc of rarities, “We Know The Night: Rare & Unreleased.” Brian also did a masterful job mixing “The Complete Inconcerated Live” show – and actually did some heroic salvage work on several tracks that had technical issues. Happily, this is now a sparkling and remarkable sounding set, that’s every bit as important a document of the band’s Slim-era lineup as Maxwell’s was to the original foursome.

The whole package was brought together sonically by Justin Perkins of Mystery Room Mastering. Justin had a truly epic task pulling these various audio sources together and making it all sound right. He did amazing (often tedious cleanup work) so that the listening experience on this box would be perfect. And it truly is.

Chris Bellman at Bernie Grundman cut a beautiful vinyl master of “Redux” for us under the supervision of Matt Wallace (when you get your copies of the box, be sure to check the run-out groove on the LP).

The whole package is presented in a 12 x 12 hardcover book – loaded with dozens of rarely seen photos — and features a detailed history of the “Don’t Tell A Soul” era written by yours truly.

Like all things Replacements, this project was a labor of love (and sometimes hard labor). I’m eternally grateful to the band and its management (especially Darren Hill), all the folks at Rhino including my co-conspirator Jason Jones, as well as the Dunlaps, the Jespersons, Michael Hill and all who helped with this project in ways big and small.

Anyway, that’s some of the how and why this came about. I’m sure I’ll share more as things go along and we get closer to release. In the meantime….DEAD MAN’s POP is available for pre-order here (if you get it now you also get a little bonus gift with the box).

From the Star-Tribune: New box set from Minneapolis’ Replacements to include live record, Tom Waits cuts

The expanded version of the band’s most slickly produced and commercially touted record for Reprise/Warner Bros. is titled “Dead Man’s Pop” and will be released Sept. 27. List price: $79.98.

It will feature a newly mixed version of the original album (on both vinyl and CD), a CD of alternate studio versions from earlier, shelved sessions in Bearsville, N.Y., and two more discs featuring a concert recording from the “Don’t Tell a Soul” tour stop at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee on June 2, 1989.

“Don’t Tell a Soul,” which featured the single “I’ll Be You,” was released with a “radio-ready” sound mix that frontman Paul Westerberg reportedly disdained. The new version was crafted by the album’s producer, Matt Wallace, in the spirit of the original mix he made at Paisley Park in 1988.

“The true spirit of the Replacements was always there on the recordings we did back in 1988, and now you can hear and feel it clearly,” Wallace said in a release from Rhino. “This was the project of a lifetime for me when we recorded it 30-plus years ago, and it’s even truer today as we’ve finally fulfilled our original vision.”

The box set also contains a 12-by-12 hardcover book with dozens of rarely seen photos and a detailed history of the era written by Bob Mehr, who authored the band’s definitive biography, “Trouble Boys,” and co-produced the box with Rhino’s Jason Jones.

“While it’s impossible to unhear a record that’s been around for three decades, this version … is the album the band made and intended to release,” says Mehr in the album notes. The remix “also restores several crucial elements from the sessions, including original drum tracks, vocal takes and tempos that were altered in post-production … [and] the band’s original sequence of the album.”

Track Listing

Disc: 1
1. Talent Show (Matt Wallace Mix)
2. I’ll Be You (Matt Wallace Mix)
3. We’ll Inherit the Earth (Matt Wallace Mix)
4. Achin’ to Be (Matt Wallace Mix)
5. Darlin’ One (Matt Wallace Mix)
6. Back to Back (Matt Wallace Mix)
7. I Won’t (Matt Wallace Mix)
8. Asking Me Lies (Matt Wallace Mix)
9. They’re Blind (Matt Wallace Mix)
10. Anywhere’s Better Than Here (Matt Wallace Mix)
11. Rock ‘n’ Roll Ghost (Matt Wallace Mix)

Disc: 2
1. Portland (Alternate Mix) [Bearsville Version]
2. Achin’ To Be (Bearsville Version)
3. I’ll Be You (Bearsville Version)
4. Wake Up (Alternate Mix) [Bearsville Version]
5. We’ll Inherit The Earth (Bearsville Version)
6. Last Thing In The World
7. They’re Blind (Bearsville Version)
8. Rock ‘N’ Roll Ghost (Bearsville Version)
9. Darlin’ One (Bearsville Version)
10. Talent Show (Demo Version)
11. Dance On My Planet
12. We Know The Night (Alternate Outtake)
13. Ought To Get Love (Alternate Mix)
14. Gudbuy t’Jane (Outtake)
15. Lowdown Monkey Blues (feat. Tom Waits)
16. If Only You Were Lonely (feat. Tom Waits)
17. We Know The Night (feat. Tom Waits) [Rehearsal]
18. We Know The Night (feat. Tom Waits) [Full Band Version]
19. I Can Help (feat. Tom Waits)
20. Date To Church (Matt Wallace Remix)

Disc: 3
1. Alex Chilton (Live at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, WI, 6/2/1989)
2. Talent Show (Live at University Of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, WI, 6/2/1989)
3. Back To Back (Live at University Of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, WI, 6/2/1989)
4. I Don’t Know (Live at University Of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, WI, 6/2/1989)
5. The Ledge (Live at University Of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, WI, 6/2/1989)
6. Waitress In The Sky (Live at University Of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, WI, 6/2/1989)
7. Anywhere’s Better Than Here (Live at University Of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, WI, 6/2/1989)
8. Nightclub Jitters (Live at University Of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, WI, 6/2/1989)
9. Cruella de Ville (Live at University Of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, WI, 6/2/1989)
10. Achin’ To Be (Live at University Of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, WI, 6/2/1989)
11. Asking Me Lies (Live at University Of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, WI, 6/2/1989)
12. Bastards Of Young (Live at University Of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, WI, 6/2/1989)
13. Answering Machine (Live at University Of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, WI, 6/2/1989)
14. Little Mascara (Live at University Of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, WI, 6/2/1989)
15. I’ll Be You (Live at University Of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, WI, 6/2/1989)

Disc: 4
1. Darlin’ One (Live at University Of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, WI, 6/2/1989)
2. I Will Dare (Live at University Of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, WI, 6/2/1989)
3. Another Girl, Another Planet (Live at University Of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, WI, 6/2/1989)
4. I Won’t (Live at University Of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, WI, 6/2/1989)
5. Unsatisfied (Live at University Of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, WI, 6/2/1989)
6. We’ll Inherit The Earth (Live at University Of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, WI, 6/2/1989)
7. Can’t Hardly Wait (Live at University Of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, WI, 6/2/1989)
8. Color Me Impressed (Live at University Of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, WI, 6/2/1989)
9. Born To Lose (Live at University Of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, WI, 6/2/1989)
10. Never Mind (Live at University Of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, WI, 6/2/1989)
11. Here Comes A Regular (Live at University Of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, WI, 6/2/1989)
12. Valentine (Live at University Of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, WI, 6/2/1989)
13. Left Of The Dial (Live at University Of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, WI, 6/2/1989)
14. Black Diamond (Live at University Of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, WI, 6/2/1989)


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