Today's artists were one of the two American post-punk bands of the '80s that changed the direction of rock & roll. R.E.M. became a superstar band; They never was more than a cult favorite. Nevertheless, their albums between 1981 and 1987 have proven remarkably influential; they provided the sonic blueprint for the roaring punk-pop hybrid that crossed over into the mainstream in the early '90s. Not only did they shape the sound of the music, they shaped the way independent bands made the transition to the major labels; they showed other bands that it was possible to record uncompromising music on a major label without losing any integrity or creative control. Nearly every major and minor band that appeared in the alternative underground in the late '80s and '90s owed a major debt to them, whether they were aware of it or not. . . ....N'Joy
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The band's two songwriters, guitarist Bob Mould and drummer Grant Hart, both had a knack for writing songs that essentially followed conventional pop structures, complete with memorable melodies, but were still punk songs. Hüsker Dü took the Buzzcocks' pioneering punk-pop and made it harder, both musically and lyrically. Throughout their career, Hüsker Dü never lost their edge, never turned down their amplifiers, never compromised their music. While Hart and bassist Greg Norton were an unfailingly strong rhythm section, Mould would prove to be one of the most influential guitarists of the decade. With his slashing rhythms, distorted strumming, and blazing leads, he set the stage for the alternative guitar heroes of the late '80s and the '90s.
Hüsker Dü formed in Minneapolis, MN, in 1979. Guitarist/vocalist Bob Mould was studying at Macalester College in St. Paul, MN, and working at a record store, which is where he met drummer/vocalist Grant Hart and bassist Greg Norton. The three musicians had diverse tastes, but all shared a love for hardcore punk rock. Naming themselves Hüsker Dü after a '50s Danish board game (the name means "do you remember"), Mould has commented that they liked the somewhat mysterious qualities of the name, and that it set them apart from other hardcore punk groups with names. Mould also reported that while Hüsker Dü enjoyed much hardcore punk in general, they never thought of themselves as exclusively a hardcore group, and that their name was an attempt to avoid being pigeonholed. Hart, Mould, and Norton fired Pine during their first official performance, on March 30, 1979, and continued as a trio under the new name.
In the early '80s, Hüsker Dü developed a strong local following; nearly every local band, from the Replacements to Soul Asylum, sounded like the Hüskers. Both Mould and Hart wrote songs and sang lead. In 1981, they released their first single, "Statues," on the local label Reflex, which was quickly followed by their debut album, Land Speed Record, which was released on New Alliance Records. Recorded live, Land Speed Record boasted 17 songs that lasted a full 26 minutes. Later that year, they released an equally fast and hard EP, In a Free Land. In 1982, they moved backed to Reflex, where they released Everything Falls Apart, their first album recorded in a studio. By this time, Hüsker Dü had begun touring the United States relentlessly, traveling across the country in a van and playing small clubs. Along with the Minutemen, R.E.M., Black Flag, the Meat Puppets, and the Replacements, Hüsker Dü formed the core of a group of independent rock & roll bands that carved out a reputation for touring ceaselessly and getting their records played through college radio stations; they formed the core of the American rock underground in the mid-'80s. Hüsker Dü concerts were a nonstop barrage; the band rarely spoke to the audience and each song segued directly into the next, without interruption. In addition to touring constantly, Hüsker Dü was recording quickly, turning out the Metal Circus EP in 1983.
After Metal Circus, Hüsker Dü developed musically at a rapid pace, with Mould and Hart coming into their own as songwriters on 1984's Zen Arcade, their first album for SST Records and their critical breakthrough. Hüsker Dü recorded the double album Zen Arcade in 45 hours for the cost of $3,200. Zen Arcade is a concept album following a boy who leaves home to face a harsh and unforgiving world. Its artistic and conceptual ambitions were a great stretch, given the purist sentiment then prevalent in U.S. punk rock. Zen Arcade was a double album -- something that was completely unheard of in the underground -- that showed the band stretching out musically, writing sharper pop songs as well as lengthy abrasive instrumentals. It received critical praise and significant mainstream music press attention, ending up on several year end best-of lists; it also helped expand the band's audience beyond the punk community.[
Hüsker Dü continued to record and tour at a blindingly fast speed throughout 1984 and 1985. Mould and Hart were beginning to develop an unspoken rivalry as well as a dependency on alcohol and speed. Nevertheless, the group was at its peak in 1985, turning out two albums. The first, New Day Rising, was released in the spring and showed the band moving closer to concise pop songwriting while accentuating their fierce sonic barrage. Flip Your Wig, released late in 1985, featured their cleanest, most accessible production, without making any concessions to mainstream rock. Both albums received excellent reviews, both in fanzines and some mainstream rock publications. Some fans attending shows during '85-'86 may have been alienated by so much material, wanting to hear favorite hits. However, Husker Du was an example of a band that wanted to keep evolving, and perform new material.
During the recordings sessions for Flip Your Wig major label Warner Bros. Records approached Hüsker Dü and offered the group a recording contract. The band felt it had hit a sales ceiling that it could break through only with the help of a major label. The promise of retaining complete creative control over its music convinced the band to sign with the label. Mould also cites the distribution problems with SST as a reason for the move, mentioning that there would sometimes be no records to sign when the band would show up for promotional events. Hüsker Dü was not expected to sell a large amount of records. Rather, Warner Bros. valued the group for its grassroots fanbase and its "hip" status, and by keeping the overhead low the label anticipated the band would turn a profit. Ultimately they became the first of the mid-'80s independent post-punk bands to sign a contract with a major label, as they closed the deal with Warner Bros. Candy Apple Grey, the band's first major-label album, appeared in 1986, though Warner Bros. had initially lobbied to release Flip Your Wig until the band decided to let SST have it. Candy Apple Grey was the first Hüsker Dü album to chart on the Billboard Top 200, but despite receiving exposure on radio as well as MTV, it could get no higher than No. 140.
During that year, tensions between Mould and Hart escalated. Mould began to clean up and Hart continued to sink further into drug and alcohol addiction. Nevertheless, they managed to write and record another double album, Warehouse: Songs and Stories. Although Warner didn't want the band to release another double record, Warehouse was released in the spring of 1987, to uniformly positive reviews.
Hüsker Dü was preparing to launch a series of concerts to support Warehouse when their manager, David Savoy, committed suicide the night before the start of the tour. Hüsker played the tour anyway -- they ran through the new album in order every night, without interruption -- but Savoy's suicide helped the inner-band turmoil reach a peak. Hart showed no signs of sobering -- he was developing a heroin addiction -- while Mould was clean. The band dissolved after a show at The Blue Note in Columbia, Missouri on the 1987 tour. Hart was trying to quit heroin using a supply of methadone, but the bottle had leaked. Hart played the show, but Mould and Norton were concerned Hart would soon be suffering from withdrawal and thus would be unable to play the next few shows. While Hart insisted he could perform, Mould had already cancelled the dates. Hart quit the band four days later. Mould has said that the breakup was about "three people going their separate ways" at that time, referring to Hart's drug use and a new relationship, Norton's recent marriage and starting a new business, and Mould himself having just quit a lifelong drinking habit.
The Living End, a live collection taken from the band's final tour, was released after the band's demise. When asked to review the album, Mould asked his guitar tech to do so instead. He says he has never listened to the album.
Hart released a solo EP, 2541, on SST later that year, followed by a full-length album called Intolerance a year later. After its release, Hart shook loose his addictions and formed a new band, Nova Mob. Nova Mob released their debut album, The Last Days of Pompeii, in 1991; a self-titled second album appeared in 1994. Norton became a chef in Red Wing a restaurant he runs with his wife. Immediately after the breakup of Hüsker Dü, Mould embarked on a solo career. After releasing two solo albums -- Workbook (1989) and Black Sheets of Rain (1990) -- he formed a trio called Sugar in 1992. Between 1992 and 1994, Sugar released two albums: Copper Blue (1992) and File Under: Easy Listening (1994). Mould broke up the band in 1995 and returned to a solo career the following year, releasing to date 7 more solo albums, Bob Mould (1996)
The Last Dog and Pony Show (1998), Modulate (2002), Body of Song (2005), District Line (2008), Life And Times (2009) and Silver Age (2012).
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Spot -- SST's house producer who manned the boards for Zen Arcade and New Day Rising -- didn't produce Flip Your Wig, Hüsker Dü's second album of 1985, and the difference is immediately noticeable. Everything on Flip Your Wig is cleaner and brighter than on its two immediate predecessors, which is appropriate, considering that Bob Mould and Grant Hart have only increased their debt to '60s pop. The hooks and melodies are on the surface, right from the kick-start call-and-response of the title track. On paper, it might sound as if Hüsker Dü have watered down their hardcore ideals, but it doesn't play that way. Flip Your Wig is pop played as punk, as if this is the only time these songs could ever be heard. Which means Hart's love song "Green Eyes" and Mould's pure pop single "Makes No Sense at All" are delivered with the same rage and passion as Mould's blistering "Divide and Conquer" and Hart's "Keep Hanging On," or the pair of surging, neo-psychedelic and noise-wracked instrumentals that close the album. Flip Your Wig would be a remarkable record on its own terms, but the fact that it followed New Day Rising by a matter of months and Zen Arcade by just over a year is simply astonishing.
Hüsker Dü - Flip Your Wig (flac 275mb)
01 Flip Your Wig 2:33
02 Every Everything 1:56
03 Makes No Sense At All 2:43
04 Hate Paper Doll 1:52
05 Green Eyes 2:58
06 Divide And Conquer 3:42
07 Games 4:06
08 Find Me 4:05
09 The Baby Song 0:46
10 Flexible Flyer 3:01
11 Private Plane 3:17
12 Keep Hanging On 3:15
13 The Wit & The Wisdom 3:41
14 Don't Know Yet 2:14
Hüsker Dü - Flip Your Wig (ogg 94mb)
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Moving to a major label doesn't affect Hüsker Dü's sound greatly -- although the production is more full-bodied than Spot's razor-thin work, the Hüskers don't change their blazing attack at all. Much of Candy Apple Grey charges along on the same frenzied beat that propelled New Day Rising and Flip Your Wig, and both Bob Mould and Grant Hart are in fine form, spinning out fine punk-pop with "Sorry Somehow" and "Don't Want to Know If You Are Lonely." However, the sound is beginning to seem a bit tired, which is what makes Mould's two acoustic numbers, "Too Far Down" and "Hardly Getting Over It," so welcome. Demonstrating that punks can mature without losing their edge, Mould inverts the rules of conventional confessional singer/songwriter songs with these two haunting numbers, and in doing so, he illustrates the faults with the relatively staid post-hardcore punk that dominates the remainder of the record.
Husker Du - Candy Apple Grey (flac 259mb)
01 Crystal 3:28
02 Don't Want To Know If You Are Lonely 3:29
03 I Don't Know For Sure 2:27
04 Sorry Somehow 4:25
05 Too Far Down 4:37
06 Hardly Getting Over It 6:02
07 Dead Set On Destruction 2:59
08 Eiffel Tower High 2:49
09 No Promise Have I Made 3:39
10 All This I've Done For You. 3:09
Husker Du - Candy Apple Grey (ogg 94mb)
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It's cleaner and more produced than any of their records, which is one reason why many Hüsker Dü fans have never fully embraced their second double album, Warehouse: Songs and Stories. Granted, Warehouse boasts a fuller production -- complete with multi-tracked guitars and vocal, various percussion techniques, and endless studio effects -- that would have seemed out of place a mere two years before its release. However, Flip Your Wig and Candy Apple Grey both suggested this full-fledged pop production, and it's to Hüsker Dü's credit that they never sound like they are selling out with Warehouse. What they do sound like is breaking up. Although there was a schism apparent between Bob Mould and Grant Hart on Candy Apple Grey, they don't even sound like they are writing for the same band on Warehouse. But the individual songs on the album are powerhouses in their own right, as both songwriters exhibit a continuing sense of experimentation -- Hart writes a sea shanty with "She Floated Away" and uses bubbling percussion on "Charity, Chastity, Prudence, and Hope," while Mould nearly arrives at power pop with "Could You Be the One?" and touches on singer/songwriter-styled folk-rock with "No Reservations." Warehouse doesn't have the single-minded sense of purpose or eccentric sprawl of Zen Arcade, but as a collection of songs, it's of the first order. Furthermore, its stylish production -- which makes pop concessions without abandoning a punk ethos -- pointed the way to the kind of "alternative" rock that dominated the mainstream in the early '90s. In all, it was a fine way for one of the most important bands of the '80s to call it a day.
Hüsker Dü - Warehouse Songs and Stories ( flac 499mb)
01 These Important Years 3:49
02 Charity, Chastity, Prudence And Hope 3:11
03 Standing In The Rain 3:41
04 Back From Somewhere 2:16
05 Ice Cold Ice 4:23
06 You're A Soldier 3:03
07 Could You Be The One? 2:32
08 Too Much Spice 2:57
09 Friend, You've Got To Fall 3:20
10 Visionary 2:30
11 She Floated Away 3:32
12 Bed Of Nails 4:44
13 Tell You Why Tomorrow 2:42
14 It's Not Peculiar 4:06
15 Actual Condition 1:50
16 No Reservations 3:40
17 Turn It Around 4:32
18 She's A Woman (And Now He Is A Man) 3:19
19 Up In The Air 3:03
20 You Can Live At Home 5:25
Hüsker Dü - Warehouse Songs and Stories (ogg 162mb)
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