Warner Brothers LP, 1986
An album in which the un-suckiness curve seems to asymptotically start at infinity with "Crystal" and then go down to approach zero with the final songs. It's really a cock-tease of an album because "Crystal" is so fucking good I'm willing to say it might be Mould's best recorded song in their ouvre. And here's also an album in which Hart's good songs beat Moulds 2-1 (even though he has more songs than Hart, huh?). And that's not a lower denominator fraction - I really mean two songs to his one song: "Don't Want To Know If You're Lonely" and perhaps one of Hart's finest songs: "Sorry Somehow."
The second side is like the worst parts of side 1, song by song. Here Hart does a piano-based drippy ballad (and lemme tell you I ain't anti-ballad, I mean "Beth" is my favorite Kiss song even if Peter Kriss looked right silly singing around a campfire with all the make-up on). And speaking of ballads, I haven't even mentioned Bob "I Wanna Be on College Radio" Mould's Billy Braggish falsetto-laced "Too Far Down" on the previous side.
Side two and assorted songs on side one sound almost like a bunch of bad college rock bands trying to imitate Husker Du and then being covered by Husker Du. "Hardly Getting Over It" is a nicely arranged song what with the sonorous piano counterpoint and that non-Spot great sounding drums but the lyrics are incredibly inane and, well, collegian. Hart's "Dead Set On Destruction," is made topical by that large lady Rita (he likens a bad relationship to flying a plane into a hurricane) and it sports a song idea that Foo Fighters later honed to pop perfection (over and over again) and planeloads of dollars but it's way off the mark and seems to be flying through a puddle, not a hurricane. I only mention "Eiffel Tower High" (neat title) or the shudder-producing "No Promises Have I Made" and the closer, Mould's softening of the "Divide and Conquer" with the tedious "All This I've Done For You", a song about as exciting as watching Wheaties cereal go damp.
But... what a way to open an album.... "Crystal"... I'm still shaking after hearing it after so long. It's like that empty-chested feeling you get before a heart attack (no, I don't know, I'm guessing) or when you're in teenage puppy love. "100,000 niiiiights!" Great, great, great.
On the serious, sort of time continuum, groove - note that in the time from the awesome Flip Your Wig - which preceded this album - Grant Hart has gone from being the goofy guy in love (albeit attracted to dangerous girls) to the bitter break-up dude "dead set on destruction". His girlfriend is even suing him. Historians have noted that it was after this album he began his slide into heroin addiction and band acrimony that would later lead to their break-up and the overdone Warehouse double LP. Mould's progression from Flip Your Wig and the previous records is also interesting. He seems to have moved on from politics and being kinda angry with the world to being angry with himself and in the throes of an "identity management" crisis ("I Don't Know For Sure" and even "Crystal" with its evocation of that old literary staple Hermann Hesse's Steppenwolf and its broken mirror). I've wondered if "Eiffel Tower High", however lousy of a song I think it is, was about his ambivalence about girls (as reflected by the girl's ambivalence about him).
So whaddya say, we split it in half. Worst Du album, best recorded song by Mould and possibly Hart. Anybody wanna defend the other songs?
Songs to Sample This Record:
Our Friday rocker is "Crystal" by Bob Mould - I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS SONG and BUYING THIS ALBUM JUST FOR THIS SONG... and here's Hart's "Don't Want To Know If You Are Lonely", some of his best lyrics and best anguished singing, I think - and with organ.
This was such a cool publicity shot taken around the time they were doing publicity for this disc that I had to steal it from the smart little Du site Third Avenue... which is also known as the Husker Du Database... there's plenty more memorabilia and fan stuff there. Hours of insomniac exploration await.
- What I previously said about Flip Your Wig ( I raved) which includes some words on CAG.
- This guy thinks Candy Apple Grey is The Greatest Rock Record Of All Time
- I linked Third Ave above - here's their compendium of Du sites.
- And just for you college kids - the hyperbola...
- This album is still in print and readily available at budget prices via Froogle