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Talking about the Replacements: Sadly beautiful


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Back in 1997, there was a minor wave of compilations documenting '80s-vintage underground bands, including the Replacements. Unfortunately, "All for Nothing, Nothing for All" was grievously incomplete because it only had songs from the group's major-label period and nothing from their early days. But the package was less interesting as music than as tribal folklore. In particular, the liner notes consisted of one first-person gush after another about the Replacements' legacy of gloriously ragged, alcohol-fueled tragicomedy: "About 20 other people and I saw the show of our lives," "No arena rock encore illuminated by cigarette lighter flames could match those moments in the van, lit by the flickering flashlight beam of some cop hoping to find something more than two besotted rock and roll fans" and so on.

Ten years later, we have the book-length version, "The Replacements -- All Over But the Shouting: An Oral History" (Voyageur Press, $21.95), which is exactly what the title promises. Minneapolis author Jim Walsh solicited stories and anecdotes from hundreds of people, including many from the band's inner circle -- and also some faces in the crowd, including me. I dimly remember getting an e-mail query about this a few years back, and I dutifully sent back two of my favorite remembrances of Replacements shows gone by. To my delight, Walsh used both of them (although I now wish I'd had a chance to clean up my grammar). Click through to see the one that involved less typing, and feel free to add your own.


One of my favorite Replacements shows ever was in Denver in 1989, touring for 'Don't Tell a Soul' to a disappointingly small crowd at the Paramount Theatre. Part of the show is being broadcast to a nationwide radio audience. Before the on-air part, [Paul] Westerberg coaches the crowd to boo on his signal. So the broadcast starts, they play a song -- I believe it was 'Talent Show' -- and Westerberg gives the signal: 'BOOOOOOOOO!' 'Aw, c'mon,' Westerberg pleads while giving the crowd a broad wink. 'You might like us if you just gave us a chance.' Alienating an invisible audience of millions for a had-to-be-there joke for a few hundred -- what could be a better summation of the Replacements' career?

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