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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

No Replacement

The band that made Minneapolis rock

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  Jim Walsh’s TheReplacements: All Over But the Shouting—An Oral History (Voyageur Press), published to coincide with Rhino Records’ first installment of Replacements reissues, wisely lets those who were there tell the tale. History, by its nature, allows the winner to write the story, and rock ’n’ roll mythmaking is as much about refraction as it is reflection. Walsh’s anecdotal style depicts a Minneapolis music scene built around a few record stores and clubs hip enough to evolve into the post-disco era.

  Guitarist Bob Stinson, his 14-year-old brother bassist Tommy and drummer Chris Mars were jamming in the basement to Yes’ “Roundabout” when songwriter Paul Westerberg talked his way into the group. As midwived by Peter Jesperson and his girlfriend Linda Hultquist (Jesperson ran the Oar Folkjokeopus record store and was co-owner with Paul Stark of Twin/Tone Records), the raggedy group gradually became a band to be reckoned with. Westerberg’s songs were both poignant and hilarious, and the group was a manic collision of Faces and The Sex Pistols. They booked gigs and crisscrossed the Midwest, leaving a trail of incendiary and half-baked shows in their wake. Their legend was based equally on great gigs and train wrecks.

  After four records with Twin/Tone, the ’Mats signed with Sire. They ditched Bob, blaming his bad habits—but the others were no angels, either. After adding guitarist Slim Dunlap, they reached for the big time with an opening slot on a Tom Petty tour. But they were roundly ignored for their efforts, and that was pretty much the end of it. At a final gig in July of 1991, the band handed their instruments to roadies who closed the show. Bob Stinson died in 1995 and the book’s final section is the eulogy Walsh delivered at the service.

  All Over But the Shouting is a snapshot history of Minneapolis, a city that was a vital musical epicenter for a few years, offering the likes of Prince, Hsker D and Soul Asylum. It also illustrates the era when music videos became a force—and tells about a band that couldn’t have cared less about MTV.