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Pleased To Meet Me Re-issue

October 21, 2020

Sire / Rhino 3CD + LP

Following the successful transformation of Don’t Tell A Soul into Dead Man’s Pop, the same team have turned their attention to Pleased To Meet Me. Unlike Don’t Tell A Soul, Pleased To Meet Me got a very positive reaction when originally released so why re-do it now? Although originally sceptical about this re-release I have been won over.

In chronological order CD Two contains the demo sessions from Blackberry Way studios in Minneapolis from August 1986. These were the last sessions to feature wayward but brilliant guitarist Bob Stinson: by the time the album sessions proper started in November of that year Bob had been sacked from the band he started. There is little difference between these demos and the tracks the band would go onto cut without him. Bob Mehr’s excellent liner notes suggest he contributed little to the Blackberry Way sessions and Paul Westerberg was a sufficiently skilled guitarist to take up the slack. So PTMM was recorded by a three piece band, who only returned to a four piece when live dates loomed. The strongest of the demos not to make the finished LP were those written and sung by bass player Tommy Stinson, especially Hey Shadow. His Trouble On The Way is equally strong.

The LP was recorded over two months at the end of 1986 at Ardent Studios in Memphis with maverick producer Jim Dickinson.  CD One gives us a 2020 remaster of the 11 tracks that were released as Pleased To Meet Me in 1987 and it sounds great, like it always has. What is intriguing is to compare these tracks with those on CD Three, described as Rough Mixes. The Rough Mixes were what the band took back to Minneapolis with them at the end of the Ardent sessions. Dickinson then spent three weeks remixing and tinkering with the tracks using the studios newly acquired Fairlight sampler. It is these remodelled tracks that would be released as Pleased To Meet Me. There are some obvious differences, for example the Rough Demos feature organ on Valentine and rockabilly piano on IOU, and Can’t Hardly Wait ends rather than fades. There are also a lot of subtle differences between the two versions. The Rough Mix version of Alex Chilton is Rock, the Pleased To Meet Me version is Pop. The material on the Rough Mix version is not as strong – Birthday Gal and Kick It In are not adequate substitutes for the absent I Don’t Know. The thirteen Rough Mixes are also pressed on a vinyl LP, which sounds terrific.

The remaining tracks are out-takes and cover versions cut in studio downtime, engaging but mostly inessential. Lift Your Skirt is the most blatant Chuck Berry rip Westerberg has ever managed. Most of the out-takes that have circulated amongst fans are here, with the exception of I Tried To Make This Your Home and the “Going Out Of My Head” version of I Don’t Know.

Tommy Stinson describes this LP as their first grown-up record, but you would never describe it as mature. Whether Dickinson should have been allowed to digitally remodel the Pleased To Meet Me tracks is academic at this late stage. Certainly the Rough Mixes were less radio-friendly and might have resulted in Sire not picking up their option. And as Mehr’s Trouble Boys depicts in excruciating detail, the commercial failure of the Mats had many causes, mostly down to the band’s behaviour rather than their music.

“One foot in the door, the other one in the gutter

The sweet smell that they adore, I think I’d rather smother. “

From → Music

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