Sunday, September 26, 2004

Husker Du

Flip Your Wig
SST, 1985

Like port wine,
Flip Your Wig ages quite well. The songs remain as fresh as they were when first recorded in early 1985 yet have a full range of accomodate every taste from the bitter to the sweet.

In terms of their differences, Mould tackles a wide range of topics - politics, personal, etc. with a mostly bleak perspective while Hart focuses on the old staples -- girls and love. This pattern is established and plays itself out in the future records - "Candy Apple Grey" the next album after this is a perfect way of describing the three - Hart as candy, Norton as the apple - core - and Mould as the grey - matter...

It's Mould's songs that are the most intense -- he addresses just about everything going on in his life- their new-found fame (the title track), the old fan base that were pushing back on their new directions ("Makes No Sense At All"), the politics of the time ("Divide and Conquer") and his own personal life. Its in these latter songs like "Find Me" and "Games" that I'm hearing again in a different way and I glossed over in my previous listens. The topics - fear of going mad and self-disgust - are intensely personal and revealing given his subsequent coming out. Listening to "Find Me" especially makes the hair on my neck stand up:
There's a thousand million voices
They're screaming in my eyes
Preachers in the forest
Sirens in the sky
Well I walked around and I cried a lot
Thought that I would die
Find Me
It's interesting to note that these songs were being written at about the same time that Rites of Spring was writing their own seminal emo-core record and that Bob is working on a music project with Brendan Canty. The instrumentals are also even more interesting now - despite its onorous title "The Wit and the Wisdom" is a fine piece and "Don't Know Yet" tries to do something different without sounding too self-conciously proggish.

Hart's songs are quite different fare. Compare these lyrics from "Green Eyes" to the above:
It's a great big world
There's a million other guys
I feel so lucky when I look
In those green eyes
This and "Flexible Flyer" are perhaps among the best songs he recorded with Husker Du. He's an impossibly happy dude but it only makes Mould's songs stab even deeper.

Bob Mould and Grant Hart show they are distinct songwriters but still able to make significant contributions to each others compositions. By that I mean the drumming on "Makes No Sense At All" is the "hook" that turns the song into something that was instantly likable and a "hit" for them -- even though it's Mould's song. Likewise, Mould's banshee counterpoint to the chorus in "Green Eyes" strengthens Hart's songs incredibly. I like Mould's guitar blitz in the middle of "Keep Hanging On" as it underscores Hart's screaming quite well.

As this record is still widely available, I'll just post one track, Mould's "Flip Your Wig" since it features singing from both Mould and Hart.

Flip Your Wig

Notes: This guy does a fantastic job of summarizing the Husker Du portfolio. The rest of his site is recommended.
See this posting for a comprehensive update on Mould's latest work including the work with Brendan Canty.
The guitar riff to "Divide and Conquer" is incredibly easy for even a ham-handed guy like me.
Blogger has been acting like a bad boy today -- I've lost several versions of this post so if the writing isn't that good, I apologize for Blogger because what I lost was a lot better!

OFFTOPIC: As I've purged Real Player from my system, I'm happy to report that a spyware free player capable of handling Real streams here (courtesy Neil Gaiman's journal)

1 comment:

Eric said...

Aahhh... the underrated gem of the Husker Du category, perhaps the last time Bob & Grant played "nice" together. Great songs, some of the best from Bob ( Makes No Sense, Divide&conquer ) and my fav from Grant ( Keep Hanging On ).

Flip Your Wig will always be memorable for me, it's the CD the wife and on popped into the car player when we brought our baby daughter home from the hospital for the first time