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Trouble Boys The True Story Of The Replacements – Bob Mehr

March 10, 2016

Every once in a while I forget how much I love a band or recording artist. When I saw The Replacements reunion show in 2014, I was overwhelmed at how much their songs meant to me – it was genuinely emotional experience.  There was about a ten year span (roughly 85-95) that I lived on a pretty steady diet of the ‘Mats and Westerberg solo.  Over the years I would return to them from time to time, but prior to that reunion show I had been out of touch for a while. That show at Midway Stadium in St. Paul was like running into a very dear old friend.

Recently Westerberg’s The I Don’t Cares album had me back in the ‘Mats mood –  I was ripe for the biography of the band. But even with that set up I was not quite ready for the wave of nostalgia that rolled over me as I read each page. I am a South-Minneapolis guy and I am just short of a year older than Westerberg – we have a lot of shared history.

If you are a ‘Mats fan this is an absolute must read. Bob Mehr gets you deep inside the soul of the band. I don’t know the guys in the band, but it sure seems like “the true story” of the band. It is a warts and all tale. Reading the book makes me appreciate the band even more than I previously did (unlike Gregg Allman’s autobiography that emphasized what a douche he is and it kind of ruined his music for me).  Westerberg is an asshole, but a brilliant and lovable asshole.

This is deeply researched biography of the band: the boys in the band and the key people around them. I never quite got, nor was I attracted to, the self-destructive personality of the band – it was the music and not the image that gripped me.  Reading the gory details it is all the more amazing that such a beautiful catalog came out of the hot mess that was The Replacements. My guess is that The Replacements were no more chemically dependent than a lot of bands, but their fuck you attitude shined a light on their excesses.

Meh get you deep inside and it feels so real. You feel like you know these guys and isn’t that all you want from an autobiography or biography  to get to know the subject?  History is not enough – you need to feel like you are there in the room with them – the book is a very tactile read.  Mehr tells the story in a very compelling and almost novel-like manner. It is linear, but with just enough crooked detours in order to effectively tell the story.

I guess the best part of the story is how unlikely it is that these guys found the success they did. In the end they sacrificed the payday for authenticity. They may not have gotten rich in money, but they got rich in rock and roll credibility.  At its soul rock and roll flips you the bird and The Replacements flipped that bird better than anyone.

The ‘Mats are on my short list of musical greats.  I have always loved their music and this book has made their music even more special to me.



From → The Word

  1. I will eventually pick this up. On the same page as you with this band. Another good piece Axl.

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