In 1984, I was all over the purple artists that came from Minneapolis. In other words, I was into anything Prince and his proteges, such as The Time and Vanity/Apollonia 6. Still, Minneapolis was fertile ground for alternative bands, the big three being Hüsker Dü, The Replacements and Soul Asylum. Personally, during the Eighties, I love the first two, while to me Soul Asylum was just The Replacements-lite. By that, I mean, Soul Asylum sorta sounds like The Replacements, only without the calories (or good songwriting). But, Hüsker Dü was a different animal altogether.
I first heard Hüsker Dü in another guys’ dorm room after a long afternoon bike ride. The album was their now classic Zen Arcade. If you thought the Ramones played fast and wild, then you were not prepared for the maelstrom sound of Hüsker Dü. In comparison, the Ramones sounded like they were on Quaaludes next to Hüsker Dü, who sounded like a band on speed, steroids AND Ritalin. But, that underlying punk sound with a pop melody was intact if you could take the aural assault. And, sometimes, I just needed this American hardcore.
In 1985, Hüsker Dü reached their pinnacle creatively speaking. They released two more albums on the independent SST label, New Day Rising and Flip Your Wig. While the band maintained the break-neck speed of their songs, while slowing down a few to form a sound that Green Day would successfully mine during the Nineties. Additionally, the Pixies would also take the loud part of the Hüskers’ sound and alternate “quiet” choruses to complete their sound, which Nirvana would bring to the masses in the Nineties. That means that Hüsker Dü created the alternative nation of the Nineties and the pop-punk sound that followed Green Day’s initial success.
Personally, I loved that aggressive buzzsaw guitar sound, especially back in 1984, when it re-awoke that love of all things that were alternative. In 1988, Hüsker Dü broke up acrimoniously. Lead singer and guitarist Bob Mould went on to begin an acoustic solo career that eventually reverted back to the aggressive sound of his original group. After two solo albums, Mould formed another power trio called Sugar, whose sound was a more tamed version of Hüsker Dü. Drummer Grant Hart has recorded a couple of pop-punk music, while bassist Greg Norton recorded one power pop album with his group Nova Ebb before beginning a career as a chef.
Unfortunately, Hüsker Dü probably will never get back together, let alone agree to work together in order to remix their catalog. What a shame for the second most important artist to come from Minneapolis.
Hey Rock & Roll Hall of Fame! Hüsker Dü is ready for its rightful place!