Music Reviews
Husker Du

Husker Du

Savage Young Du

Numero Group

Of all the reissues dreamed of in the fevered imaginations of record nerds, punk/hardcore legends Husker Du’s catalog was surely up at the top. But with a combination of acrimonious former band members and a record label not known for cooperation, that dream seemed sadly out of reach.

Thanks to the audio archaeologists at Numero Group, however, the dream has been realized with the release of Savage Young Du, a collection of 69 tracks of rare or previously unissued tracks from the groundbreaking band, along with a gloriously designed 140 page book filled with photographs, set lists, and record covers. Covering 1979 through 1982, the set shows what an influential and vital band Husker Du was, even before the group’s SST releases.

What’s striking about the set is how fully formed the band was from their earliest recordings. Songs like “Can’t See You Anymore” are pure pop, while “Insects Rule the World” and “All I’ve Got to Lose Is You” show that Husker Du had channeled their pop sensibilities into the contemporary punk sound, while “Statues” and “Amusement” show the band was absorbing the post-punk sounds coming out of England.

The second disc, however, shows the band assembling all these disparate sounds into what would be their signature sound – ferocious assault with an ear for melody. Bob Mould’s guitar has acquired a metallic (the material, not the music), shimmering wall of sound, much different from the treble-y “Here’s a guitar solo just because it seems like we have one;” which was the case for most hardcore bands at the time.

The set that would become Land Speed Record is included here. Sort of. Taken from a show the next night where the band did the same set, this version is notably cleaner, and divided into individual songs, rather than one mass. At this time Husker Du were billed as “the fastest band on Earth,” which is evident in these recordings. Buried under the speed and power is a remarkably tuneful aspect which would come to the forefront in their next recordings.

The next disc includes the band’s turning point, Everything Falls Apart. Here the band is outgrowing what they felt were the limitations of hardcore and are tempering speed and power with the pop sensibilities they had always flirted with. The title track and their cover of Donovan’s “Sunshine Superman” reveal the changes that were to come.

While this isn’t the Husker Du of New Day Rising or ,these songs show a band confident with incorporating and synthesizing influences while never losing their core essence. Hundreds of bands were treading these same waters, there’s a reason why Husker Du stood out. With cases of more tapes mentioned, hopefully this is just a teaser of more unreleased material to come.

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