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.