Update: July 23, 2019, 12:20 p.m.
We’ve got our first taste of the new mix. The Replacements shared the Matt Wallace Mix of “Talent Show” from Dead Man’s Pop. You’ll hear a lot more goofball antics… and a banjo?
Here’s the original version
What’s the Replacements’ best-selling album? Not their critically-acclaimed Let It Be, not their major-label debut Tim, not Pleased to Meet Me with “Can’t Hardly Wait” and “Alex Chilton.” Nope, it’s 1989’s Don’t Tell a Soul, the band’s first LP with Slim Dunlap taking over for Bob Stinson, the album with “Achin’ to Be” and “I’ll Be You.”
The band, though, “were unsatisfied with the sound of the record,” according to the announcement of a “radically reimagined” version slated for release on Rhino Records on Sept. 27. The new release, titled Dead Man’s Pop, is being released in a four-CD set that also includes a vinyl copy of the remixed LP, a hardcover history by band biographer Bob Mehr, and — for the first 500 buyers — a 14-track cassette tape with highlights from the set. According to Rhino:
The box features a newly completed mix of the album by Don’t Tell A Soul producer Matt Wallace (based on his 1988 Paisley Park mix); a disc of unreleased recordings (including a session with Tom Waits); plus the band’s entire June 2, 1989 show at the University of Wisconsin — Milwaukee. In total, the box includes 60 tracks — 58 of which have never been heard before.
The announcement makes much of the fact that the band decided not to throw the Don’t Tell a Soul tapes in the Mississippi River (as they had with some of their Twin/Tone tapes in 1987). Instead, the band “absconded with a collection of their reels from Paisley Park studios” — tapes that ended up in Dunlap’s basement. The new mix by producer Matt Wallace is “based on his 1988 Paisley Park mix.”
Paisley Park? Yep. The ‘Mats started recording Don’t Tell a Soul in 1988, with producer Tony Berg at Bearsville Studios in New York. Later, the band fired Berg in a meeting at the C.C. Club and subsequently brought Wallace on board.
Sessions began again in Los Angeles, where most of the album was recorded at studios including the legendary Capitol space. The band then decamped to the newly-opened Paisley Park for additional recording and an initial mix; that’s when the tapes that are now becoming Dead Man’s Pop apparently left the building.
By the time all was said and done, the Replacements had a radio-friendly album that’s always been controversial among fans — and, apparently, among the band members themselves — for its arguably over-polished sheen. “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,” said Wallace in a statement.
Even at the time, it seems, the band had some trepidation about their new sonic direction, and joked about it in typically self-deprecating manner. Years later, Berg remembered getting a call from Westerberg months after the producer had parted ways with the band.
“I was driving in my car with my wife today,” Berg said Westerberg told him, “and a song came on the radio. I turned to my wife and I said, ‘That is what the Replacements’ record is supposed to sound like.’ The DJ came on afterward and said, ‘That’s a new song by the debut artist Michael Penn.'” Westerberg’s response: “Oops!”