All Over but the Reading

The Replacements: All Over but the Shouting by Jim Walsh. 2007. Voyageur Press. $14.99 US $ 8.99 UK $18.99 CAN.

This book is a great oral history account of the Replacements’ “career.”

Comprised mostly of recent interviews conducted by the author, the narrative also includes old quotes from band members and material straight out of the archives of newspapers, magazines and fanzines. And of course the odd comment from the likes of Bob Dylan and Greil Marcus.

The book gives a lot of insight into the Minneapolis music scene and the wider American underground milieu of the 1980s, from the people who were actually there.

Walsh’s work highlights the debate over what would have happened if the Replacements had acted a bit more like they actually wanted to be successful, or if they had come along in the early 1990s instead of paving the way for later alternative acts in the 1980s.

Here is Ken Ornberg discussing that very issue on page 215:

It was an exciting time, working on “I’ll Be You.” It’s a romantic cliché to say, “a band ahead of its time,” but they really were. If that band would have come out with those records another generation later, I really think they’d talk about Paul [Westerberg] the way they talk about Kurt Cobain. That band would have half a dozen number-one records.

The Replacements played their last show a couple months before Nirvana’s Nevermind was released. Although they put away their instruments before underground music would explode into the mainstream, they did manage to last over a decade.

And on page 261 here’s what frontman Paul Westerberg told Rolling Stone in 1989:

Whatever happened to all the punk bands? All the bands that we opened for and played with: Black Flag, Minutemen, Youth Brigade, Seven Seconds, Husker Du, Effigies, all the fucking hardcore bands. There isn’t a damn one of them left. We fucking outlasted the whole stinking lot of posers, and all the time they gave us shit for having plaid shirts and hair.

Yup, the Replacements wore plaid and flannel and had hair. And they had a very slacker attitude. This attitude is very reminiscent of a certain style coming out of the Pacific Northwest at the start of the 1990s, and also with this blog post on the internet in 2010. So instead of me pushing on with further summary of this book, just go ahead and read it for yourself.

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