PLEASED TO MEET ME (DELUXE EDITION)
Rhino (1-LP, 3-CD Set)
“Just the three of us, scared out of our wits.” That’s how singer-songwriter Paul Westerberg described his band as formal sessions began in November 1986 for what became Pleased to Meet Me. Leading up to the group’s second Sire Records album, they had reasons to be afraid. Bob Stinson was sacked, leaving Westerberg as the lone guitarist. Also, Westerberg, bassist Tommy Stinson (Bob’s younger brother) and drummer Chris Mars would be recording far from their Minneapolis home, working with a savvy, seasoned producer at a first-class studio.
The music The Replacements made under Jim Dickinson’s guidance at Ardent Studios in Memphis turned out great. Pleased to Meet Me, released in April 1987, showcased instruments, sounds and styles that expanded their brand of rambunctious rock, yet the ’Mats (as longtime fans called them) retained the underground spirit and perspective they established during their Twin/Tone label tenure. They left lots of quality material in the vault, and it’s finally seeing the light of day on Rhino’s deluxe edition of Pleased to Meet Me. These copious unreleased extras further illustrate just how good The Replacements were and how much the band grew during this period of transition.
The first disc contains a remastered version of the original 11-track album, followed by six bonus tracks, among them a Jimmy Iovine remix of “Can’t Hardly Wait.” The demos that comprise the second disc were recorded in August 1986 at Blackberry Way in Minneapolis, with not-yet-fired Bob Stinson on seven of the tracks, and his guitar gusto is most prominent on “Time Is Killing Us.” Rough mixes, outtakes and alternate takes fill the third disc, and among the standouts is a charming, ragged rendition of Billy Swan’s “I Can Help,” with Westerberg calling out chord changes along the way. The box set’s vinyl album has the rough mixes also found on the third CD.
Sections from author Bob Mehr’s excellent Trouble Boys: The True Story of The Replacements appear in the liner notes, and the box set’s 18-page book is rounded out with plenty of photos and a full page of songwriter, musician and studio personnel credits. Westerberg has called Pleased to Meet Me the band’s “best rock and roll record,” and its deluxe edition is best enjoyed turned up loud and is worthy of repeated listens from start to finish.
— Chris M. Junior