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Bob Mehr: Trouble Boys – The True Story Of The Replacements

The story of The ‘Mats, warts an’ all.

Although author Bob Mehr is clearly a dyed-in-the-wool Replacements fan – at times you can almost hear him breathless with admiration for the band and especially Westerberg’s acute songwriting chops – this latest book on a band revered by critics but the bane of most promoters and label managers’ lives is a rare insight in the machinations of four young men who brought new meaning to the phrase ‘burn out’.

A fan Mehr may be, but he’s not afraid to pull back the curtain on what a bunch of snot-nosed, damage-case kids The Replacements could and would often be. Passive-aggressive, shambolic and downright mean but blessed with bursts of creative beauty, all the clichés, it seems, are true.

What puts Mehr’s book far above of any other on this prickly subject is the depth of research; all remaining members, the Stinson family, tour managers, label heads all make for a fascinating confluence of voices echoing the same sentiments about a band who got the keys to the family car and then promptly, and deliberately, drove it right off the road.

Death, drugs, denial and deceit, this story of a band that Mehr describes memorably as flying high and living low has it all.

Philip Wilding is a novelist, journalist, scriptwriter, biographer and radio producer. As a young journalist he criss-crossed most of the United States with bands like Motley Crue, Kiss and Poison (think the Almost Famous movie but with more hairspray). More latterly, he’s sat down to chat with bands like the slightly more erudite Manic Street Preachers, Afghan Whigs, Rush and Marillion. He ghosted Carl Barat’s acclaimed autobiography, Threepenny Memoir, and helped launch the BBC 6 Music network as producer and co-presenter on the Phill Jupitus Breakfast Show. Five years later he and Jupitus fronted the hugely popular Perfect 10 podcast and live shows. His debut novel, Cross Country Murder Song, was described, variously, as ‘sophisticated and compelling’ and ‘like a worm inside my brain’. His latest novel The Death And Life Of Red Henley is out now.