Jim Walsh compares the Replacements to a comet, leaving a trail long after it's burned out. The music was incendiary, straddling a line between punk and classic rock. You never knew what to expect at a show. They might sound transcendent one moment, lethargic the next, with a lot of hijinks in between. It was impossible not to be affected by them.
Fans always remember their original encounter with The Replacements. Paul Stark founded the local label that first signed them, Twin Tone Records.
"I don't think I ever saw the band until they actually came in and did a demo with me, and they were great," Stark says.
Fittingly, John Beggs, owner of Roadrunner Records in Minneapolis, was introduced to the band through its records. "Some friends, some neighborhood friends had 'Sorry Ma,' the first album," he says. "And I didn't like it at first."
Beggs and Stark are among dozens, both in and outside Minnesota, who give testimonials and share memories in Jim Walsh's book, "The Replacements: All Over but the Shouting."
Walsh says the Replacements; Paul Westerberg on guitar and singer, Bob Stinson on lead guitar, Tommy Stinson on bass and Chris Mars on drums, broke down the wall between stage and audience. As a result, fans felt an incredible sense of ownership.
"The book is I think, a very real account because they were a very human band, they were flawed, they were inspired, they were inspiring, and they were boring," he says. "They weren't perfect, they were real."
Walsh used to be a music editor for City Pages and critic for the St. Paul Pioneer Press. His book is a collection of statements he gathered, either from previous clippings or more recent interviews, that follow the band's trajectory. The quotes have a stand alone quality to them, but upon closer reading you can pick up a narrative thread.
If "All Over but the Shouting" was a book on tape, and only contained the comments of Roadrunner Records owner John Beggs and Twin Tone Records founder Paul Stark, it might sound something like this. "Paul Westerberg was obviously a strong singer. Westerberg was an anti-leader leader, trying to hold a band of idiots together so to speak, who actually were all fairly intelligent, and kind of knew what they wanted to do," Stark says.
"The first time that I went out to see them, it was at the Cabooze, and it must have been '83 or '84," Beggs says. "Westerberg had the Alice Cooper make-up on, and it was dripping down his face, and Bob was wearing his size extra-small 19.99 shirt and the purple or pink tutu."
"Bob Stinson was a character, and his guitar playing was very very unique," Stark says. "The old addage of how many beers do you have before he's great, and how many beers before he's just awful. Two to three he's warmed up and five to six, too many."
"So in 1985 I had a band, and one of our members, Tom Herbers, was an employee of Metro Studios which had several rehearsal spaces in the basement," Beggs says. "And we shared one with the Replacements for about six months. They never had their own beer and they knew we did, and they knew there was probably some left in the practice space. And if they found them, they would always leave the empties right by the door for us, for when we came in."
"If anyone looks at the Replacements and tries to figure out how did they make it? asks Stark. "They did what they wanted to do. They did the music that they felt like doing, not what they were told to do. And they succeeded because of it, at some relative level."
"To a certain degree, they were probably a little afraid of making it because they didn't see themselves as fitting in," Beggs says.
John Beggs and Paul Stark, who are both quoted in "All Over but the Shouting." At first, Jim Walsh wanted to be a source for the book, not its writer. But when nobody else stepped forward, he started feeling a sense of urgency.
"I wanted to get some of these stories down, and I wanted the thing to exist," he says. "You don't know what's going to happen tomorrow and I'm just glad it exists, I'm glad it's finally between two hard covers, this documentation of this tsunami of energy that happened for 10 years."
Walsh says he's most excited about the book making its way into the hands of people who never saw the Replacements, so they can get a sense of what all the commotion was about.