Trouble Boys: The True Story of The Replacements

Minneapolis’ The Replacements grew up quick during the ’80s—musically and otherwise—graduating from blistering tuneful, hardcore bursts to perhaps the most noteworthy rock songwriters of that era. Bob Mehr’s Trouble Boys is the first book with full participation of the band in telling the whole sordid story. These guys were either doomed for dead-end jobs or worse: jail. There was no option but to will themselves to power, and fueled by endless alcohol consumption they earned a reputation as an alternately sloppy or dangerously thrilling live band. Mehr shares the stories behind the band’s most-loved songs, digging beneath the surface of singer/guitarist/songwriter Paul Westerberg’s born loser/joker persona. The paint-stripping guitars and heart-heavy lyrics of “Answering Machine” speak to the frustration and disconnect in connecting with a machine in place of a lover. On first listen, the band’s “Left of the Dial” seems like a tribute to the college-rock bands of the ’80s, but in fact was a love song written to a female member of Let’s Active (in which Westerberg spent time) and guessed he would never see again. Essential reading for music obsessives.