Husker Du

Picture of Husker Du

Land Speed Record

©1982 SST
1. All Tensed Up
2. Don't Try to Call
3. I'm Not Interested
4. Guns At My School
5. Push the Button
6. Gilligan's Island
7. M.T.C.
8. Don't Have a Life
9. Bricklayer
10. Tired of Doing Things
11. You're Naive
12. Strange Week
13. Do the Bee
14. Big Sky
15. Ultracore
16. Let's Go Die
17. Data Control

Not too many bands feel the urge to release a live recording as their debut, but that is precisely what Husker Du did. Land Speed Record, both a reference to their tempo choices and pill choices, is a blisteringly fast paced recording that was recorded in 1981 and issued in early 1982. For fans who might be more aware of the band's later melodic punk that helped lay the groundwork for a good chunk of 90s and beyond alternative rock, Land Speed Record may well be a recording of an entirely different band. The songs rip by one after another with no breathing room whatsover. The live recording is surprisingly decent for what had to have been a low budget effort, though the sound quality is still a bit of a blur. The lack of dynamics does cause this album to be one long pummeling affair that never quite lets up for such niceties "being able to tell one song from another". They demonstrate without a doubt that they could play very fast and shout a lot. And like many bands of this era, this documentation of their live show is undoubtedly a pale representation of actually being there.

The CD version of this album consists of each LP side as one long unindexed song. This has always been one of the major reasons that I rarely have listened to any of Land Speed Record. While there is almost no pausing by the band during the performance, indexing the separate tracks is always a little touch that helps create a warm, loving feeling between me and the listening format.

Husker Du would fairly quickly evolve away from this ham fisted approach and basically leave hardcore behind within a couple years. Land Speed Record stands more as a curiosity of where this band started out rather than a "must-have" in their generally impressive career.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 02/2011

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Metal Circus

Husker Du - Metal Circus ©1983 SST
1. Real World
2. Deadly Skies
3. It's Not Funny Anymore
4. First Of The Last Calls
5. Lifeline
6. Diane
7. Out On A Limb

After two testy and tedious forays into recorded music, Husker Du finally started to come of age on Metal Circus, a short seven song EP that began honing the fuzz, feedback and fury of the trio into a more understandable and focused musical attack. For newcomers to the Husker world, Metal Circus is the logical stepping stone from their early days to their classic SST releases that followed in the next two years. Metal Circus is also one of those rare albums where the album art perfectly captures the sound of the music, as Husker Du's sound on this EP can easily be described as hues of gray, white and silver. The production creates a monochromatic portrait and the cover art represents the album exquisitely.

Metal Circus is very much a roots album for Husker Du. Bob Mould's fuzz and feedback drenched guitar is both noise-ridden yet chock full of pop oriented goodness. Although he and drummer Grant Hart are shouting and shrieking their angst ridden vocals throughout, there is still a hummable quality to many of these songs. "First of the Last Calls", a rather bleak look at drinking, is furious yet as catchy as Mad Cow Disease. "Diane", a terrifying number from the viewpoint of a child rapist, is insidious in its ability to truly stick to the listener's bones, yet capture the desparation and terror of the lyrics. Both thoughtful and dripping with adrenaline, Metal Circus is a quick eighteen minute jaunt through a blueprint for the future of music. Although Husker Du would immediately top themselves with the better realized Zen Arcade, Metal Circus stands as the first in a series of revolutionary and outstanding releases from this fine trio.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 03/2001

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Zen Arcade

Husker Du - Zen Arcade ©1984 SST
1. Something I Learned Today
2. Broken Home, Broken Heart
3. Never Talking To You Again
4. Chartered Trips
5. Dreams Reoccuring
6. Indecision Time
7. Hare Krsna
8. Beyond The Threshold
9. Pride
10. I'll Never Forget You
11. The Biggest Lie
12. What's Going On
13. Masochism World
14. Standing By The Sea
15. Somewhere
16. One Step At A Time
17. Pink Turns To Blue
18. Newest Industry
19. Monday Will Never Be The Same
20. Whatever
21. The Tooth Fairy And The Princess
22. Turn On The News
23. Reoccuring Dreams

Though one hates to actually use these words in a review, Husker Du's Zen Arcade is what should be referred to as a "seminal" album. Ambitious and sprawling, Zen Arcade was a record that defined Husker Du's mission statement in a one-two punch of power and songwriting genius. The album was recorded in a one-take fashion, allowing only for vocals and a few guitar lines to be overdubbed. The result is a raw, angry and noisy record that still is able to convey the information of the songs properly. At times the band threw in some backwards tape masking, something that occurs throughout the record. One can also argue that the album could easily have been just as effective minus a good ten to fifteen minutes, eliminating some of the wandering material such as "Hare Krsna" or "Dreams Reoccuring". But regardless of what could very well be extraneous material, Zen Arcade is simply killer. The first half of the album tends to be more of their older "ultracore" style, with Bob Mould and Grant Hart both hollering out vocals like manic sideshow freaks. Tracks like "The Biggest Lie" or "Beyond the Threshold" push the intensity needle right up to ten. But on the flipside, Zen Arcade also includes some of the band's best gems of truly timeless and memorable songs. "Somewhere" starts the progression of the classic songs, followed by the melodic "Pink Turns to Blue" and the excellent guitar work on "Newest Industry". "Turn on the News" is easily the most pop oriented song, but still aggressive and angry. The final track is a sprawling repetitive instrumental that seemingly ties up the weird production effects in a long jam session. Due to the nature of this expansive record, it will take some time to really dig through the music to find the shining star within. The aggression and power is immediate but the true genius of this album takes time.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 11/1999

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New Day Rising

Husker Du - New Day Rising ©1985 SST
1. New Day Rising
2. Girl Who Lives On Heaven Hill
3. I Apologize
4. Folk Lore
5. If I Told You
6. Celebrated Summer
7. Perfect Example
8. Terms Of Psychic Warfare
9. 59 Times The Pain
10. Powerline
11. Books About UFOs
12. I Don't Know What You're Talking About
13. How To Skin A Cat
14. Whatcha Drinkin'
15. Plans I Make

After the immense and sprawling haze and distress of Zen Arcade, the men of Husker Du took their sprawl and tidied things up for the punch-in-the-nose of New Day Rising The opening title pretty much sets the pace for the entire album: aggressive, massively distorted rock with knobs set on stun. Bob Mould screams "New day rising" over and over throughout the entire song and creates a rather uplifting sense of aggression. New Day Rising contains possibly the most fuzzed out wall of guitar assault of any Husker Du album. And as always, the sense of writing timeless song, regardless of the harshcore edge, is evident throughout. Whether it's the hilariously upbeat and deliberately silly "Books About UFOs" or the inherently catchy "I Apologize", Husker Du hits on all points here. The band moves seamlessly from their more "light" moments such as "Perfect Example" to the guitar amp shredding "Plans I Make" to nearly etherial songs such as "Powerline" where the bass floats nearly a mile high over the rest of the music, creating a very unique sound. Perhaps the only eyebrow raising track is "How to Skin a Cat" that lurches like a teenager learning to drive a stickshift for the first time. New Day Rising is easily one of the best albums Husker Du unleashed upon the world and perhaps the best place for the first time listener to start with the band.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 11/1999

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Flip Your Wig

Husker Du - Flip Your Wig ©1985 SST
1. Flip Your Wig
2. Every Everything
3. Makes No Sense At All
4. Hate Paper Doll
5. Green Eyes
6. Divide And Conquer
7. Games
8. Find Me
9. The Baby Song
10. Flexible Flyer
11. Private Plane
12. Keep Hanging On
13. The Wit And The Wisdom
14. Don't Know Yet

After a trio of intense, raging and powerful records, Husker Du veered into a more fuzz-pop territory that would typlify the remainder of their time together. Flip Your Wig is certainly a more ear-friendly, catchy song oriented record than any of their predeccesors, offering more than a few memorable songs. Ultimately, however, the accessibility of the music does not quite make up for the fury and undeniable power of their previous three albums and Flip Your Wig becomes a step down for the band.

While one can enjoy the toned down Husker Du approach here, the feeling that something vital is missing is prevalent throughout the entire record. There are a couple moments of silliness, particularly on "The Baby Song", which is the band goofing around with toy instruments. On stronger moments, you have the adrenaline rush of "Every Everything" or the more aggressive and memorable "Divide and Conquer" (one of the band's most infectious and best songs). However, several of the songs drag on, particularly "Green Eyes", and bring the record down a notch on the whole. With hindsight being 20/20 and knowing the band only had a couple more years of existence, you can sense the initial chemistry was slowly fading away and both Bob Mould and Grant Hart were attempting to define themselves as singer/songwriter types here.

Regardless of all that, Flip Your Wig is still a good Husker Du record, just not their best to date. When compared to Zen Arcade, New Day Rising or even their final studio album Warehouse: Songs and Stories, Flip Your Wig tends to sound a bit tepid.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 06/2001

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Candy Apple Grey

Husker Du - Candy Apple Grey ©1986 Warner Bros.
1. Crystal
2. Don't Want To Know If You're Lonely
3. I Don't Know For Sure
4. Sorry Somehow
5. Too Far Down
6. Hardly Getting Over It
7. Dead Set On Destruction
8. Eiffel Tower High
9. No Promise Have I Made
10. All This I've Done For You

I'm not one to blame major labels for instantly ruining any credible band so I'm not going to say that the last two Husker Du albums are only moderately interesting because of Warner Bros. While still chock full of catchy fuzz pop songs, Candy Apple Grey fails to live up to the intensity and fury set on the band's previous three SST releases. With thinner production and a more distant sound, the band's efforts to write compact pop songs is both interesting and a bit sad. Often Candle Apple Grey sounds like the band recorded in a large field on the prairie and then set the microphones clear on the other side of that prairie. The production isn't technically bad but there is a lot of emptiness on the record. But you do have to understand that regardless of the lessened firepower that this is still worthwhile simply because of the three gentleman performing the music. As with any Husker Du record, there are some dead perfect gems: "Dead Set on Destruction" and "Don't Want to Know If You're Lonely", with "Sorry Somehow" nipping at their little feet. There are also several poignant, somber moments set either to acoustic guitar ("Hardly Getting Over It") or piano ("No Promise Have I Made") that make you wonder if the band was having difficulties simply getting out of bed in the morning. But on a whole the album just doesn't quite stack up to the Husker Du standard set by the band in their previous releases of frenzy and fury. Obviously people get older and anger is traded in for contemplation, but darn it...

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 12/1999

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Warehouse: Song And Stories

Husker Du - Warehouse: Song And Stories ©1987 Warner Bros.
1. These Important Years
2. Charity, Chastity, Prudence And Hope
3. Standing In The Rain
4. Back From Somewhere
5. Ice Cold Ice
6. You're A Soldier
7. Could You Be The One?
8. Too Much Spice
9. Friend, You've Got To Fall
10. Visionary
11. She Floated Away
12. Bed Of Nails
13. Tell You Why Tomorrow
14. It's Not Peculiar
15. Actual Condition
16. No Reservations
17. Turn It Around
18. She's A Woman (and Now He Is A Man)
19. Up In The Air
20. You Can Live At Home

Husker Du's final outing as a band before a personality implosion is this immense double record called Warehouse: Songs and Stories, which is an apt name as it seems to have a warehouse feel to the material. With an abundance of songs - twenty total - there tends to be more filler material than one might consider necessary for the band. However, when taken into consideration that the band did not survive long beyond the release of this record, the wealth of songs turns out to be a good thing. Warehouse is fraught with some problems, such as a power sapping production from Bob Mould and Grant Hart that puts the instruments into tidy compartments and takes away their innate power. The drums are too friendly for their own good and the guitar sound is too compacted, instead of the sleetstorm of distortion one expects from Bob Mould. But on the other hand, the good songs throughout this record make it a good epilogue to the band's recording career. "Ice Cold Ice", "She Floated Away", the very moody "Bed of Nails" (a precursor to where Mould would travel in his solo recordings) and "You Can Live At Home" are all bonafide great Husker Du songs. Maybe the Huskers were working a little too hard at their noise pop stylings as some of the songs go a bit too far into pop territory, but overall, Warehouse is a strong album.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 11/1999

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