The Replacements: All Over But the Shouting: An Oral History is probably essential reading for serious Replacements fans, but man, it's a slog. Author Jim Walsh, a onetime buddy of Paul Westerberg who was unable to interview the lead singer for the book, regularly inserts himself into the narrative, at one point seemingly comparing his own talents to the two great Minneapolis underground bands of the '80s, the Replacements and Hüsker Dü. As Walsh writes in the preface: "My band wasn't even in the running, or so it seemed, probably because I liked to watch, and listen."
Another problem is that Walsh employs a confusing "oral history" format, telling the story via quotes from the band, critics, and contemporaries. Thus we get shifting tenses, a barrage of footnotes, and lots of bracketed information. For example, guitarist Slim Dunlap imparts: "That day, Tommy had come to see Chrissie [Dunlap, Slim's wife and First Avenue band booker] and I was going to record with Curt[iss A], who was being produced by Big Al [Anderson of NRBQ]."
The Replacements offers plenty of beautiful moments and hilarious quotes, many culled from previous Westerberg interviews. In one excerpt from a KROQ chat, the DJ asks, "What can you tell us about the new single 'The Ledge'?" to which Westerberg responds, "Well, it's in E minor, and — if you're following along at home — E minor, C major seventh, D suspended, with a B seven turnaround."
But though Walsh would have you believe that the book celebrates the Replacements, you are left celebrating Westerberg and feeling sorry for everybody else, from the group's deceased guitarist, Bob Stinson, to his uneasy replacement, Dunlap, to Walsh himself, who is, more than anything, bummed that he wasn't in the band.