HÜSKER DÜ: THE STORY OF THE NOISE-POP PIONEERS WHO LAUNCHED MODERN ROCK by Andrew Earles; Voyageur Press, 2010

There’s been a plentitude of reading opportunities for anybody interested in digging into Our Precious Hardcore Punk Rock Heritage recently.  Your browser is set to this url so you know the deal: the Touch and Go archives in book form, Why Be Something You’re Not, etc.

Andrew Earles has made an invaluable contribution with this book.  Faced with the difficult task of writing about a defunct band long divided against itself he’s not only avoided a nasty “he said/he said” chronicle of complaint but done a thorough job of explaining why Hüsker Dü was an important band in the way they operated as well as the music they recorded.

Most of what the majority of us have read about the Hüskers focuses on disputes (real or conjured up by writers) between Bob Mould and Grant Hart.  As Earles notes at the outset of the book; “… this type of coverage isn’t really a ‘type’ because there really hasn’t been an alternative.”  Andrew Earles has given himself the task of providing the fuller story and succeeds.

Just reading this book took me back to the days when a mail order would arrive at my door and a new Hüskers record would show up.  A time when the words to “Everything Falls Apart” were as close to a personal operating philosophy as I could manage.  When seeing the band move massive columns of air in small rooms left me awestruck.  Later on “Don’t Want to Know if You Are Lonely” was so inescapable that in my self-indulgent resentment I forgot that I had discovered the Hüskers and ranked them in my mind alongside Discharge and Terveet Kadet when I first got my hands on Land Speed Record.   Of course, when I caught the band’s final tour I realized what a dink I had been.

The work Earles has done in detailing the establishment of the Reflex label, the band’s touring regime and interaction with other bands is revelatory not only in detailing the work that went into a band in those days but also in placing Hüsker Dü as a keystone band alongside Black Flag and Minor Threat in the establishment of the thing that became known as hardcore before Hüsker Dü hit the (relative) big-time and the thing called Alternative Rock took off.

All along the way Earles does his work in describing the complexities of the times, the incredible work that the band put into their music and the vagaries of the times.  Earles has got one of the fuller quivers of currently operating music writers, too.  He describes the NME’s coverage of the first Hüsker Dü London show as “the full backhanded-hyperbole mode that has come to signify the UK’s journalistic handling of American Bands.”  You just can’t beat that.

Good reading to be had here, that’s for sure.

-Bruce Adams

AMAZON

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  1. dan says:

    Most boring rock book ever. Wanted to skip chapters. Basically a breakdown of each record/tape. song by song. Greg Norton gets some play tho.... cool.

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