It’s Not Peculiar

I was involved in an online discussion a few days back about Husker Du- a friend put forward the suggestion that their cover of The Byrds’ Eight Miles High was their best song. Debate ensued with some agreement but also a reluctance to say that their best song as a cover, especially with a pair of songwriters as gifted as Bob Mould and Grant Hart.

Their last album, Warehouse: Songs And Stories (from 1987), also caused some discussion. Made as the band were getting fully on each other’s nerves (they split shortly after), Grant and Bob’s songs alternate across the four sides of vinyl, with Bob getting the upper hand numerically (deliberately according to both Bob and Grant). Grant was in the grips of heroin and his drumming is a little untogether on the record while at the same time Bob has audibly stepped up his song writing. The guitar playing is a blitz throughout, jagged shards and buzzes of feedback, the melodies chiming through. The dynamics of the songs are intense too- slow build ups, faster tempo choruses, fade ins and outs, clanging chords after the song has finished. I could pick any of Bob’s songs off Warehouse to illustrate the strength and depth of his talents. This one will do nicely.

It’s Not Peculiar

And just in case you were wondering whether he still has it, he does. This is from his newest solo album Patch The Sky- less angry maybe, more at peace with himself, but no less contrary.

Private Plane

Husker Du have reunited- well, sort of. The three members have launched a new website that sells t-shirts and have been in agreement to do so. So there are whispers. I don’t know if this would be a good thing or not. Drew always takes the line that he doesn’t go to reformations and the purist in me admires that. On the other hand, I’ve seen several favourite bands play after reforming and don’t regret it. It’s probably irrelevant anyway- going from they have spoken about selling merchandise and set up a website to Husker Du playing Manchester is several pretty big jumps. Judging by what other US bands do, they’d play three nights in London and then fly out again.

Flip Your Wig was my first Husker Du album, their last for SST before leaving for Warners. It is wall to wall intense US punk spliced with 60s psychedelia (apart from The Baby Song which I always skip). Both Grant Hart and Bob Mould were at the very top of their game and the production is full on as well. It may not be their best album (Zen Arcade probably, or New Day Rising) but it was my first and you never forget the first.

Private Plane

Eight Miles Again

Husker Du’s version of Eight Miles High is just indescribably good, a 7″ single worth its weight in gold. Blistering, white hot, ferocious, 60s rock meeting 80s punk, with Bob Mould lacerating his vocal chords and fingertips.

Eight Miles High

There are several live clips on Youtube. This one is Husker Du live in Camden in 1985. Astonishing, sheets of metal feedback from Bob and manic drum thumping from Grant Hart.

Live in 1987 at a Dutch festival from someone’s collection of home recorded VHS tapes, slightly less manic…

You Can Live At Home

We’ve had precious few guitars here recently so here’s a blast of Husker Du’s indie-punk perfection, what turned out to be their last recorded notes. By 1987 the Huskers were thoroughly fed up with each other and the band. During the making of Warehouse: Songs and Stories Bob Mould told Grant Hart he would never have more than half the songs on any Husker Du album and true to his word Bob’s tunes outnumber Grant’s again. They sequenced the twenty songs alternately by writer but the last song is Grant’s. You Can Live At Home is mini-punk epic, with shards of guitar and echo laden vox. Mould hits a chord around the two minute mark that sends shivers up and the spine and the long coda fade out sees the two men vie for the final word on Husker Du, Bob soloing away and feeding back while Grant repeats the song title over and over. It is as good as they ever were (the Husker Du purists would disagree with me on this one. Warehouse came out on Warners. Sell outs and punk traitors y’see).

If it sounds a little tinny and small, this is what small bands with small budgets sounded like in 87- the radio loudness wars and punchy digital sound were years off. It’ll shrink sonically in comparison to other stuff if you play it on shuffle. But it’ll sound better. Husker Du were real one offs. Truly, there is no other band who could combine 60s idealism and writing, 80s punk, and melodies like this one could.

You Can Live At Home

Is The Sky The Limit?

Grant Hart- Husker Du survivor- has a new double album out shortly on Domino. It’s inspired by both John Milton’s Paradise Lost and William Burroughs, which would seem quite daunting were it not for the quality of the tunes, or at least the ones I’ve heard so far. Grant has a real way with melody and mood and let’s be honest- although Bob Mould is remembered as the key Husker, Grant wrote at least as many of their great songs. Grant’s solo career has its high spot moments too- the 2541 single, the Intolerance lp, the Hot Wax album from recently, some of Nova Mob’s stuff. The Argument promises to be up there amongst them.

Husker

The Bagging Area cat Husker died on Saturday evening. He was eighteen (human) years old, a good old age for a cat, and had lived with us since the summer of 1994. He will be missed. It has got to me much more than I thought it would.

He’d been slowing down all week and on Saturday afternoon his back legs were all wrong. When he couldn’t get up onto the sofa I knew it was the end. The end came with the emergency vet at an animal hospital in an industrial estate in Worsley (that is every bit as grim as it sounds). I signed the papers, watched him die and then came home.

His namesake, the band Husker Du and one of Grant Hart’s songs from 1984’s Zen Arcade.

Turn On The News

Don’t Want To Know If You Are Lost And Lonely

Nothing blows the cobwebs away quite like a blast of Husker Du. This song, a kiss off to somebody, written and sung by Grant Hart is a gem where the band do the Husker trick of marrying 60s pop and 80s hardcore. Top drumming too.

Don’t Want To Know If You Are Lonely