Dear reader, life is too short for crap books.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Replacements: All Over But the Shouting by Jim Walsh

The Replacements: All Over But the Shouting by Jim Walsh

It's incredibly tempting to allow this review to devolve into a shortlist of my favorite personal recollections about the Replacements. In fact, the only thing holding me back is the knowledge that everybody latches onto the same things about the Replacements, and has the same sorts of insights.

I know this for a fact because I wrote an essay about them in college, before all those Replacements essays and personal narratives were easily available on the internet. I wrote the thing in a freakin' vacuum, and although it was judged good, and published in this compilation of the year's best essays written at my school and I still think it has some nice stuff in it, it sounds exactly like every other essay that has ever been written about the Replacements.

Walsh's book, however, does not. Sure, there's a healthy sprinkling of stories from people whose big brothers and sisters passed down their 'Mats mix tapes, and people who saw a show or two; however, most of the book's interviews come from folks who were there, who knew the band, and who helped them along on the way up. It's a Twin Cities townie kind of book, and Walsh's interviews soak up that mid-80s so uncool it's cool Midwestern indie rock vibe that never really ended.

Words from Paul, Tommy, and clearly, Bob, are clipped from previously published interviews; however, there are plenty of good bits from Chris Mars and Slim Dunlap, both of whom come across as thoughtful, diplomatic, stand-up guys. Others interviewed extensively for the book include Twin/Tone founders Peter Jesperson and Paul Stark, Soul Asylum guitarist and founder Danny Murphy, band friends and family members, and Alex Chilton, who is, oddly enough, pleasant as punch and talkative, to boot.

Does the whole story get told? Of course not. It probably never will be, but All Over But the Shouting is just about everything a fan could ask of an unauthorized Replacements book. Besides, a girl's gotta have some mystery.


Kathy said...

I'm not from Minneapolis, and I came to the Replacements kind of late -- right before they broke up. I'm incredibly grateful that Jim Walsh put the collection together, but it made me feel more like and outsider, not less.

I would have been surprised if Paul and Tommy did contribute. It seems right that they didn't. Actually, I think Jim Walsh said in an interview a few months ago that it freed him to edit the book the way he saw fit.

mary_m said...

My take on the outsider thing comes from the time I lived in Madison, WI. A lot of my friends there were much older than me, and they had all these great stories about opening for Zuzu's Petals or about how great Soul Asylum used to be live. One guy worked for a club, and was actually saddled with "Tommy-wrangling" duties whenever the 'Mats played there.

So yeah, their experience with the band and with the whole scene was a whole lot more intimate and immediate than mine; however, they never made me feel that way.

Some folks were exclusionary, sure, but most of the 30 and 40-something Madison hipsters I knew were just really excited that the young 'uns were still into the 'Mats. Like, we were validating their misspent rock and roll youths or something.

I will probably feel this way when people fifteen years younger than me start talking about the Reigning Sound.

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