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Hüsker Dü crank out ferocious ‘Pink Turns to Blue’ and ‘Eight Miles High’ on French TV, 1985
09:59 am


Hüsker Dü

SST tour
Hüskers, UCLA, 1985, Ackerman Ballroom
Here’s a French TV news report from 1985 about this American punk band Hüsker Dü. The YouTube filename indicates October 1985, which I’m sure is correct, but the footage is from earlier in the year, I think. According to the video this was shot at “UCLA, Westwood”—research indicates that the Hüskers hit UCLA in March, as part of “The Tour,” a label showcase tour that SST put together that included The Minutemen and The Meat Puppets as well, to hit a few California locales. So despite the French voiceover, those punkers and freaks outside the venue in the footage are probably not French, they’re probably from SoCal. Can anyone identify the building looming behind them in the interview portion? UCLA campus, right?

According to reports (1, 2) that UCLA show was marred by an incident in which someone in the crowd dinged Grant Hart with a beer bottle.

Anyway, enjoy la musique punk du Midwest, complete with Bob’s 1975 Ibanez Flying V and incontrovertible evidence that without Grant Hart, there’s no Dave Grohl.

Thank you Aaron Civil War!

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Can we talk? Do you remember Hüsker Dü‘s 1987 appearance on ‘The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers’
07:35 am


Joan Rivers
Hüsker Dü

Hüsker Dü
“Joan versus Johnny” was kind of the 1980s version of the Conan-Leno battle of 2010. For several years Joan Rivers had been the “permanent guest host” of The Tonight Show—her brassy style decidedly struck a chord, and her catchphrase “Can we talk?” became an ‘80s “thing,” just like breakdancing or Robin Leach. As Carson’s inevitable retirement neared, a memo circulated within NBC listing potential successors, and Rivers’ name was pointedly not on it. So she jumped to her own show on Fox in 1986, and the wounded Johnny never spoke to her again. In retrospect, Johnny doesn’t come off looking too good, and also the sexism of the late-night talk show game is particularly evident—Rivers was basically penalized for being an outspoken woman a little before her time. Although, come to think of it, Chelsea Handler notwithstanding, there still aren’t a lot of women doing late-night talk.

Meanwhile, after several groundbreaking and powerful albums, the great Minnesota band Hüsker Dü (Danish for “do you remember?”) dominated the indie rock world, and then they made a similarly calculated jump of their own—to Warner Bros., a “major label.” Hüsker Dü‘s decision to leave SST sent shockwaves among indie diehards, many of whom had themselves toiled for years in the ranks of the hardcore/punk underground. The idea of an independent band moving to a major label was, to many, unthinkable before that point—this was a precursor to the Geffen/DGC signings of bands like Sonic Youth and Nirvana just a few years later. Hüsker Dü‘s decision didn’t really work out that well—they put out Candy Apple Grey and Warehouse: Songs and Stories, fine albums both, for Warner until longstanding tensions led to the band’s breakup in 1987.
Could You Be the One?
So even if nobody knew it, in this video, dated April 27, 1987, we have two things that were about to come to an end: Hüsker Dü and The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers.

It’s kind of cool that the stage set is done up in the style of the Warehouse: Songs and Stories album cover, which Hüsker Dü was supporting at the time. The two songs they played are “Could You Be the One?” and “She’s a Woman (And Now He is a Man).” As they approach the desk for the interview, cheeky Grant Hart indulges in an extended embrace of Rivers. The interview is as stiff as can be, but Rivers, in her awkward, matronly way, actually raises some points a hell of a lot of indie rock fans were wondering about: What’s with the major label signing? Are you watering down your sound? The Hüskers’ answers have the whiff of politics to them, which under the circumstances is only understandable.

It’s striking to witness the promotional clout of Warner—there wasn’t any way in hell Hüsker Dü was nabbing such a big national late-night talk show before that—as well as the oddity of Hüsker Dü‘s stately, jarring harmonics in such a corporate setting.

I’m glad that both Grant and Bob Mould each got a crack at singing lead vocal.

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Truly Post-Punk: Suzanne Somers meets Wire on ‘The Late Show,’ 1987

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
WTF? Robert Palmer covers Hüsker Dü then Sonic Youth covers Robert Palmer
02:08 pm


Sonic Youth
Robert Palmer
Hüsker Dü

Robert Palmer, two-time Grammy Award-winning love addict caller-outer, can be heard briefly and inexplicably covering Hüsker Dü’s “New Day Rising” in the odd piece of Internet ephemera below. It goes by kind of quickly, and by midway through the clip Palmer’s band has morphed the tune into something else entirely, but it’s worth a listen if only because it’s so weird.

After giving myself a quick refresher course on Palmer’s career, because, frankly, I never really paid much attention to it, I could find no mention of any connection whatsoever between the two seemingly polar opposite musical endeavors.

If the guy who posted this thing is to be believed, it’s from a Palmer performance at San Diego State University in the spring of 1987.  Keep in mind that Hüsker Dü’s “New Day Rising” shows up brutally and gloriously kicking ass as the first track on the absolutely indispensable post-punk album of the same name released in January of 1985, the exact year that Palmer would release Riptide featuring the unfortunate classic, “Addicted to Love.” 

So I got to thinking.  Maybe Palmer’s next record, you know, the one he released after Riptide (whatever that was called)? Maybe that record would show a little change in Robert’s musical trajectory.  I knew it was unlikely, but, hell, if he was listening to Hüsker Dü, perhaps Palmer went a little punk? There was only one way to find out.

I was even willing to overlook the fact that “Simply Irresistible” showed up on the next release, Heavy Nova, in 1988.  Hey, everybody’s gotta sell records, right?  But, alas, any thought I might have entertained about Palmer veering even ever-so-slightly towards a more raw recorded sound quickly vanished. Heavy Nova is more terrible than I could have possibly imagined.  It’s just a bunch of islandy-sounding tunes with awful, smooth-jazz influenced bass lines flatulently slappity-slapping all over the place.  Shudder. 

There is proof, however, that at least one legendary noise band was listening to Robert Palmer at the time, as my wife reminded me while I was writing this piece.  Do yourself a favor and check out Kim Gordon performing a karaoke version of “Addicted to Love,” a track that appears on 1988’s The Whitey Album. The record was the result of a Material Girl-themed side project in which Sonic Youth became Ciccone Youth (referencing Madonna’s maiden name), threw in punk bass pioneer Mike Watt for a tune and then became Sonic Youth again. In the video, Gordon dances with a guitar in front of war footage while moaning off-key, droning snarls giving Palmer’s hit a sinister twist.

Posted by Jason Schafer | Leave a comment
Punky Bear: Hüsker Dü’s Bob Mould was a part of DC’s bear scene
07:08 am


Hüsker Dü
Bob Mould

While I had known for a while that the Hüsker Dü front-man was gay, I didn’t know Bob Mould was actually so open about being in the bear (as in hairy, and/or big gay dude) scene.

From Washington City Paper:

For others, like the well-known post-punk singer Bob Mould, who was a mainstay of D.C.’s bear scene in the mid-2000s, the subculture is an entrée for misfits into mainstream gay life. In his 2011 memoir See a Little Light, Mould describes discovering Dupont’s DIK Bar: “It reminded me of my punk rock days: guys in flannel shirts, T-shirts, and jeans. There wasn’t a lot of pretense, sarcasm, or campy behavior…I enjoyed the company of guys who were comfortable with their masculinity. At DIK Bar I didn’t feel like I had to do anything to fit in except be myself. I didn’t have to try to look or act like a bear because I already was one.”

What’s more surprising to me about the article is that the general taxonomy of bear subculture is so diverse (chubs, cubs, chasers, twinks, leather daddies, otters… otters?). Well, that, and the fact that there’s any culture at all in boring Washington, DC (Buuuuuuurrrrrnnn!)

Below, Hüsker Dü take a fantastic rip through The Byrd’s “Eight Miles High” at the Pink Pop Festival, Netherlands, 1987:

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment