adidas jumper Jim Walsh on his new Replacements coffee table book
Then again, it’s tough to doubt his motives when you witness the way he talks about the band. There’s a breathless admiration, and a trace of starry eyed fanboy in his expression that tells all. After all, this band really was his life. “The Replacements fit my 20s exactly. I was 19 to 29 with them,” says Walsh. In fact,
many have categorized the shambolic Placemats as completely un photographable, but Waxed Up Hair captures the band from infancy to break up, warts and all.
As we talk our way through Jim’s favorite photographs within the book, you really get the sense that it’s almost a scrapbook for him. “It’s funny for me to see these things that the editor put in,” he says with a laugh. “Like ‘Courtesy of the Jim Walsh collection’ like I have it under glass or something. “This photo of Bob and Paul is one of the greatest photos that’s ever been. Candid photos brimming with deep insight like this one litter the pages of Waxed Up Hair,
and you start to realize that The Replacements are as perfect a vessel for myth making images as any other punk icons.
Walsh is quick to point out that he’s deeply indebted to the photographers who made this book possible, as well. “Not to make too big out of a deal out of it, but this was pre digital,” Jim elaborates. “Pre everything is shared everywhere, and there’s something to that experience of making art in a more concentrated way. They all went into darkrooms to have these emerge.”
It’s easy to see what he means when you gaze at the parade of amazing photographs that line these pages. Greg Helgeson’s vividly captured photos of the band in their practice space at the Stinson family home contain shocking levels of detail that put HD to shame. You can see the rippling veins in Chris Mars’ arms,
and the dust flaking off of the T shirts he uses to mute his drums. It’s the kind of stuff that makes rock nerds salivate, and the Waxed Up Hair has many, many more where that came from.
As a dead to rights Replacements geek myself, the photos that make my heart flutter the most are none other than the band’s famous shoot for the cover of their masterwork, 1984’s Let it Be,
shot by Daniel Corrigan. The four men, barely seeming to acknowledge the camera, relax on a rooftop in the perfect intersection of heart bearing sincerity and snarling apathy. While my gaze is drawn again and again to Tommy’s rueful smile and Bob’s baleful glare, Jim looks deeper into the photo.
“There’s something very evocative about that fire escape,” Walsh muses. “Every kid has a bedroom window that they want to get out of. They’re looking out at that world,
and there’s a fire escape. This is a band that expressed that flight to freedom of adolescence better than anyone.”