This weekend brought the sad news of the passing of Memphis musician and producer Jim Dickinson. You may not know his name but you’ve probably heard him–my own personal connection is with Pleased To Meet Me from the Replacements, an album Dickinson produced at the legendary Ardent Studios in Memphis.
Dickinson has more famous credits, from playing the piano on the Rolling Stones’ “Wild Horses” to producing the last Big Star album Third/Sister Lovers, but for my money Pleased To Meet Me is where I choose to remember the guy. Prior to that album the Replacements were either a sloppy garage-punk band (on early albums such as Stink), or some big name producer attempted to smooth out their rogh edges a little too much ( listen to Tim, which has great songs but way too much studio gloss).
Dickinson tamed their demons just enough to get some of their best performances, from “Shootin’ Dirty Pool,” to “Alex Chilton,” an anthem in honor of another obscure Memphis icon. He let Paul Westerberg’s tender side show through in “Skyway“, recorded in a raw yet gorgeous manner with a high-strung guitar, and there’s a horn section on “Can’t Hardly Wait,” but other than that the album’s as simple and effective a production as one can imagine. I miss the Replacements the most when I listen to this album, now I’ll miss Jim Dickinson too.