HÜSKER DÜ
Take That Huskers
PHOTO: MURRAY BOWLES
Possibly no band has had more impact on underground rock music than the twin city power trio Hüsker Dü. In only six years of recorded output, including seven full-length LPs, the Hüskers covered ground ranging from ballistic hardcore thrash to introverted, soulful pop. Dedicated to challenging the preconceptions of their audiences and the larger punk scene, the band constantly pushed boundaries with their style, attitude, and volume. Their confusing name, taken from a Dutch memory game (it translates to "Do you remember?") embodies their resistance to being taken at face value. Driven by Bob Mould's explosive guitar wash (which sounds like TEN guitars) and gut-wrenching vocals, even their sweetest songs still sound ferocious. Mould's attack was balanced by drummer/singer Grant Hart, who wrote and sang with an unflinching ear for melody and pop hooks. Greg Norton, never as high profile as the two singers, is nevertheless a powerful bass player and author of amazing songs like "Blah Blah Blah" and "New Day Rising." He also had a glorious mustache. As early pioneers, members of the SST family, and later as a major label act, the band never stopped pushing their sound to its limits.

Hüsker Dü started in 1979 when St. Paul record store clerks Grant Hart and Greg Norton met a young college student named Bob Mould. One account places their first meeting at a Ramones/Foreigner concert. They quickly started playing shows, delivering a nonstop stream of lightning fast punk rock played at ear-bleeding volumes. Although the quickly attracted a lot of attention from those who hated and adored their extreme take on music, the band didn't attempt a record until 1981's Statues EP. Released on Mould's own Reflex label, this record shied away from Hüsker Dü's live sound in favor of a slower, more controlled approach that was showing up in some of their newer material. While good, the single didn't do much for those familiar with the band's pulverizing live show. This was accomplished on their debut LP, 1981's Land Speed Record, which was comprised of a pause-free live set. It was released, along with the solid hardcore EP In a Free Land on the Minutemen's New Alliance label.

After the raw beating of Land Speed, the slower pace and melodic hooks of "In a Free Land" proved that Hüsker Dü was ready to break out of the hardcore mold. Their next full length, 1982's self-released Everything Falls Apart LP drifts gradually into more melodic territory, and found the band covering Donavon with absolutely straight faces. They broke another punk taboo with 1984's seminal double LP concept album Zen Arcade, their best known and perhaps best-loved work. Hüsker Dü had always experimented in the studio, and had a policy of using all they recorded. Zen Arcade found them pushing the limits of this experimentation with unconventional song structures, overdubs, acoustic guitar, tape manipulation, and such to create a punk record of beautiful depth.

Hüsker Dü joined the SST roster with 1983's melodic hardcore milestone Metal Circus, and healthy competitions with label mates the Minutemen and hometown rivals the Replacements fueled their ever-changing sound. In '85, they put out two amazing albums. The second, Flip Your Wig was by far the most catchy, accessible work they had done. Along with the media buzz over Zen, it paved the way for their signing to major label Warner Brothers. Despite the WB's support, the Hüskers never made it in the big time. They broke up in 1988 following the tour for the wonderful pop opus Warehouse: Songs and Stories. There's also a whole "Behind the Music" type back story to the band, including all the infighting, drugs, and sex you would hope for. They never made sexuality or personal issues a point with the band, but I recommend Michael Azzerad's Our Band Could Be Your Life to get the dirt. After the breakup Bob Mould released a solo acoustic record, Workbook before founding Sugar. He still does solo stuff and is in the middle of releasing a 3-LP set of electronic music. Grant Hart also went solo and played with Nova Mob. Greg Norton kept a lower musical profile before switching gears to become a pastry chef. Thankfully, all of Hüsker Dü's material has been kept in print by SST, Warner, and Rykodisc. All of it is classic punk rock.
DISCOGRAPHY

Releases

NORTHERN LIGHTS demo (1979)

COLIN MANSFIELD demo (1979)

AMUSEMENT 7" (Reflex, 1981)

LAND SPEED RECORD LP (New Alliance, 1981)

IN A FREE LAND EP (New Alliance, 1981)

EVERYTHING FALLS APART 12" (Reflex, 1982)

METAL CIRCUS EP (SST, 1983)

EIGHT MILES HIGH EP (SST, 1984)

ZEN ARCADE 2LP (SST, 1984)

NEW DAY RISING LP (SST, 1985)

MAKES NO SENSE AT ALL 7" (SST, 1985)

FLIP YOUR WIG LP (SST, 1985)

CANDY APPLE GREY LP (Warner Bros, 1986)

WAREHOUSE: SONGS & STORIES LP (Warner Bros, 1987)

THE LIVING END CD (Warner Bros, live album released in 1994)


Reissues

EVERYTHING FALLS APART AND MORE CD (Rhino, 1993 - includes "Everything Falls Apart", their two early EPs, and two bonus tracks)


Compilations

CHARRED REMAINS tape (Version Sound, 1981) "Bricklayer"

BAREFOOT AND PREGNANT tape (Reflex, 1982) "Target", "Signals From Above"

KITTEN tape (Reflex, 1982) "It's Not Fair"

THE BLASTING CONCEPT LP (SST, 1983) "Real World"

UNDERGROUND HITS 2 LP (Aggressive Rockproduktionen, 1983)

CODE BLUE tape (Last Rites, 1984) "In A Free Land", "Target", "It's Not Funny Anymore" (live)

THE BLASTING CONCEPT vol. 2 LP (SST, 1986)


INFO

Hüsker Dü Database
This is an amazing amount of info including a very anal discography of not only Hüsker Dü, but also every project that any member has been involved in. Way more record facts than on this site, set lists from every show they played, and other scary, obsessive things.

New Day Rising Website
Another fan site of psychotic proportions, the feature here is a complete guitar tab archive, I'm talking complete!




KILL FROM THE HEART Home