This book stinks. It stinks of beer and cigarettes. It stinks of 2AM, last call and a tour van way past its expiration date. It stinks of cranked-up guitars, buzzing amps and the sheer exuberance of playing loud. It stinks of The Replacements and waxed up hair and pointed shoes. It stinks of rock 'n' roll.
The Replacements: Waxed Up Hair & Painted Shoes — A Photographic History is an (ironically) note-perfect book about the beloved 'Mats. No lengthy tomes here, analyzing every nuance of their music — not that “Tommy Gets His Tonsils Out” or “Gary’s Got A Boner” require much exploration. And therein lies the greatness of the Replacements and, coincidentally this book. The emotion in these photographs (and their music) is so palpable, so visceral and alive, so full of pure, unadulterated joy it puts a smile on your face. The 'Mats were never a G-R-E-A-T band, but make no mistake; they were a great band. They were the Midwest’s answer to the Faces, juiced up and sloppy.
Speaking about a shoot, photographer Greg Helgeson inadvertantly summed up the the Replacements' philosophy: “no plans, just let the moment direct the flow and take whatever direction felt right.” Paul Westerberg weighs in with, “I don’t think talent is our strong suit. I think…it’s our spirit, if anything.” But I think I’ll second author Jim Walsh’s take on the 'Mats and the scene that birthed them: it was ”raw and real and rooted in the community of hippy but dipped in the disdain of punk and hella full of soul.”
This book is not only an essential visual document of the Replacements and the post-punk Minneapolis garage scene, it is an essential document of rock ‘n’ roll and a link in the chain that connects Little Richard, Elvis, the Stones and The Ramones. Highly, highly recommended.
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