By Mark Horan
Get the inside scooop from Replacements band manager and co-producer Peter Jesperson in this sneak peek of a Goldmine Q&A that will be printed in our May 23 (#726) edition!
Goldmine: How long have these reissues been in the planning?
Peter Jesperson: Well, a long time. I wasn’t happy with the initial CD releases of the four Twin/Tone albums that we licensed to Restless back in 1997. They did a lousy job with them, and we really didn’t realize how lousy until it was too late. I started to go through the master tapes last August and I also had approximately 70 hours of Replacements music — live shows, etc. — all kind of unreleased stuff – that I had transferred to DAT back when everyone was telling me DAT was going to take over the world.
Of course that never happened, but I ended up with about 35 DAT tapes filled with Replacements songs. There was talk of a box set many years ago, but at that time I personally felt that it was too soon after the break-up of the band to start looking back already.
GM: There’s quite a lot of bonus material on the four reissues. Can you take us through the process of how the extra tracks were chosen?
PJ: There are 30 bonus tracks spread out over the four albums. It’s really just the tip of the iceberg.
I would compile a master list of a bunch of songs, make a CD and then send it to Tommy Stinson. He was my second filter. He would say what he liked or didn’t like, and then it would go on to Paul Westerberg.
Paul would do the same and then Chris Mars would go through it. It was important that Chris be involved. He’s the most removed from music at this point. He’s got his painting — he’s a very talented painter — but it was important for me to get everyone involved in the selection process. Tommy ended up bumping five songs, Paul bumped one and Chris was cool with everything I sent him.
GM: What was it like to revisit all this music in depth? You were an integral part of these albums as the band’s manager and co-producer, as well as running the Twin/Tone label. It must have been really emotional for you.
PJ: Oh, it was emotional….and intense, but also rewarding. These songs are a huge part of my life. You know, I’ve continued to listen to The Replacements over the past …. it’s nearly 25 years now since “Let It Be” came out. It’s incredible. Hardly a week goes by that I don’t listen to something by the band, so it wasn’t like I hadn’t heard these albums in a long, long time. Tommy called me one day soon after he had listened to the first batch of songs I had sent him, and he was kind of giddy after hearing the tracks in that particular context. We were kind of fighting back tears as we were discussing it. In many ways, I think it was surprising to him that he was a part of something so great. I mean, The Replacements were a great band. They would never say that out loud themselves, but deep down inside, they always knew that they were a great band.
GM: Do you have a favorite out of the four Rhino reissues?
PJ: That’s an impossible question! Let It Be is probably considered their best, and with good reason, but I’d have to go with Sorry Ma, Forgot To Take Out The Trash. It was the first Replacements album we put out on Twin/Tone and I just personally have an attachment to it. With the inclusion of all the bonus tracks, which includes the original Replacements’ four-song demo Paul Westerberg gave me, the album has now grown from 18 to 31 songs, which is such a great thing. What more could you ask for?
GM: Right now you’re overseeing the reissue process for The Replacements’ four albums for Sire, which will be released by Rhino later this year. How do you view some of the later Sire albums such as Don’t Tell A Soul and All Shook Down, which continue to be a dividing point with fans as well as with the band members themselves?
PJ: You can argue that Don’t Tell A Soul is the eighth best Replacements album, but there are songs on it that are every bit as good as any track on Tim or Hootenanny in my opinion. A song like “Darlin’ One” is better in many ways than say, “Dose of Thunder” or “Lay It Down Clown.” People’s opinions of certain albums may have more to do with production technique or whatever than the actual songs themselves. The fact is that you can put on any Replacements album and hear great songs, and that’s the main reason we’re still so fascinated by them.