The Replacements’ 1989 album “Don’t Tell a Soul” is getting a redo. After stumbling upon the original recordings for the album in the guitarist Slim Dunlap’s basement, the project to restore the Replacement’s original vision for the record came to life.
The band is re-releasing the album on Sept. 27 as a box set called “Dead Man’s Pop.” It’ll be packaged in a 12×12 hardcover photo book, containing four CDs, unseen photos and a history of the “Don’t Tell a Soul” era written by Bob Mehr, the co-producer of the project and author of “Trouble Boys: The True Story of The Replacement.” The first 500 fans to purchase the set will also receive an exclusive 14 track cassette containing two unreleased songs.
The first CD is a remaster of the original tracks of “Don’t Tell a Soul,” the second disc has unreleased recordings from sessions with Tony Berg at Bearsville Studio and a session with Tom Waits, discs three and four are recordings from a live performance in a cafeteria at University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee.
Although it became the band’s best-selling album, “Don’t Tell a Soul” was criticized by many fans as being too polished and ’80s-sounding, a betrayal of the punk group’s original raw sound. Using the original tapes recorded in Minnesota’s Paisley Park, Matt Wallace was finally able to mix the tracks to sound the way the band originally intended.
With all of the radio edits stripped away, fans will finally be able to hear the raw and timeless sound of The Replacements. Without spoiling too much, we can look forward to a banjo on “Talent Show,” Paul Westerberg ad-libbing, a ballad version of “They’re Blind” and recording session banter allowing fans an authentic experience.
All the remastering for the project was done at Mystery Room Mastering in Milwaukee by Milwaukee native Justin Perkins. Justin’s relationship with The Replacements goes all the way back to the ’90s when he first started listening to their music as a fan. After a friend of Perkins started managing Tommy Stinson’s post-Replacement band, Bash & Pop, Perkins got the opportunity to play bass for the band. “Without any rehearsal, I just went to Chicago and we did six or seven songs at this record store,” Perkins recalls.
After playing alongside of Stinson for a few gigs, Perkins started mastering songs for the band. So when the time came to remix the original recordings for “Dead Man’s Pop,” the production company reached out to Perkins as someone who “understood the band more than someone who was just getting a random project on their desk.”
Perkins’ mastering for the project was the last stop before the box set hit the market. He is excited for long-times fans, himself included, to experience what actually happened in the studio. “People know about these sessions but they have not really heard any of it so people will really enjoy that just for the novelty of it,” he says.
The box set’s other Milwaukee ties are just a coincidence. As for why the band choose to release a UWM performance, Perkins says that recording was chosen for the project because it was one of the few that was professionally recorded during the time that “Don’t Tell a Soul” was released.
“Dead Man’s Pop” is available for pre-sale on Rhino’s website.