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Based on a decade of research and reporting, hundreds of interviews (with family, friends, managers, producers, and musical colleagues), as well as full access to the Replacements' archives at Twin/Tone and Warner Bros. Records, author Bob Mehr has fashioned something far more compelling than a conventional band bio.
Beginning with riveting revelations about the band members' troubled early years which were scarred by alcoholism and mental health issues Trouble Boys tracks the group as they rise within the early '80s American underground and chronicles the making of classic LPs like Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash, and Let It Be.
Signing to Warner's Sire Records, the Replacements became one of the first indie bands to make the transition to the major label world, winning converts thanks to Westerberg's rapidly maturing songwriting on records like Tim and Pleased to Meet Me.
Mehr uncovers the darker truths behind the band's legendary drinking, showing how their addictions first came to define them and then nearly destroyed them. He offers an in-depth exploration of the life and tragic death of founding member Bob Stinson, who was fired from the group and later passed away at the age of thirty-five. By the end of their twelve-year run in 1991, the band's tightly held bonds had frayed as drummer Chris Mars was fired and Westerberg's depression, drinking, and desire to go solo became all-consuming. The band's break-up came in front of 20,000 people onstage at Chicago's Grant Park as they ceremoniously handed off their instruments to their road crew and disappeared, seemingly for good.
Trouble Boys then traces Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson's subsequent efforts to find careers of their own, and it reveals the Replacements' impact and influence on successive generations of artists from the Flaming Lips to the Pixies, Nirvana to Green Day, the Wallflowers to Wilco. The book also offers a behind-the-scenes look at the Replacements' triumphant 2013-2015 reunion, which saw them selling out stadiums, reclaiming their legacy, and re-establishing the complicated brotherhood between Westerberg and Stinson.
A roaring rock 'n' roll adventure, a heartrending family drama, and a cautionary showbiz tale, Trouble Boys is a penetrating work of biography and a major addition to the rock book canon.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-01-11
- Reviewer: Staff
Music critic Mehr captures the light and dark of a band that could play both acoustic ballads such as “Here Comes A Regular” and punk anthems such as “Tommy Gets His Tonsils Out.” The Replacements were one of the great alterative rock bands of the 1980s and were known for their live shows, which could be brilliant displays of controlled mayhem or drug-fueled disasters. Mehr covers all aspects of the band members: alcoholism and addiction, artistic differences, ruined friendships, and the death of lead guitarist Bob Stinson. Though the band was known for its short, fast, impromptu-sounding songs, this book takes an opposite approach: it runs more than 500 pages and is thoroughly researched and detailed. Mehr includes rare candid interviews with the band’s singer-songwriter, Paul Westerberg, and bassist, Tommy Stinson, earning the “true story” subtitle. B&w photos not seen by PW. (Mar.)