The early albums of indie rock legends the Replacements have been remastered and will be re-released by Restless Records on July 24th. However, the new CD pressings of the Minneapolis band’s first four Twin/Tone albums – 1981’s Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash, 1982’s Stink EP, 1983’s Hootenanny, and 1984’s landmark Let It Be – won’t contain any bonus tracks or additional artwork.
The albums were remastered by Greg Calbi, who’s done mastering work for R.E.M., Paul McCartney, Sonic Youth and many others, and none of the band’s surviving original members – Paul Westerberg, Tommy Stinson and Chris Mars – were present during the process. (Original guitarist Bob Stinson, who was fired from the band in 1986 and replaced by Slim Dunlap, died of a drug overdose in 1995.)
“They always say you can’t polish a turd,” jokes original Replacements manager and Twin/Tone Records founder Peter Jesperson of the band’s notoriously sloppy sound, “but these do sound better. The first time these albums were transferred to CD, it was done hastily.”
Contrary to the popular Replacements legend that the band had once absconded with all of their Twin/Tone master tapes and dumped them in the Mississippi River, Jesperson says, “They threw some stuff in the river, but most everything they threw out, we had back-ups of. It wasn’t like they threw out the two-inch reels from Let It Be.”
Although the Restless reissues contain no previously unreleased material, Jesperson – who now runs New West Records in Los Angeles – hopes to deliver a thorough package of the Replacements’ Twin/Tone-era material some day. “There will eventually be a comprehensive box set,” he says, adding that he has already compiled more than seventy hours of music. “It’s not gonna be a two-CD set with one of greatest hits and the other of rarities [like All for Nothing, Nothing for All the 1997 anthology of the band’s final years spent at Sire Records (1985-1990)]. It’s gonna be more thorough and well put together.”
Among the buried treasures in Jesperson’s chest include the Replacements’ scarcely heard 1980 demo tape, which was slipped to Jesperson by Westerberg that same year. Other box set candidates include unreleased tracks like 1981’s “Junior’s Got a Gun,” “Off Your Pants,” “Like You” and “Skip It”; Hootenanny outtakes “Don’t Get Married” and “Lookin’ for You”; a countrified version of the Stink punk anthem “God Damn Job”; Let It Be-era tunes like “Who’s Gonna Take Us Alive,” “Street Girl,” “Look Like an Adult” (later reworked as “Seen Your Video”) and “Temptation Eyes” (which is currently making the rounds on Napster).
So, why hasn’t this project come together sooner? “The guys in the Replacements don’t sit around and listen to themselves,” Jesperson says, ” and I just kind of felt like maybe it was too soon for them to look back, reflect.”