Onetime New York Times
Celebrated music writer
Robert Palmer was only 52 when he died of liver failure in Nov 1997.
He was the New York Times' rock music critic from 1976-1988, during
which time he penned this review of
Zen Arcade. The article, as taken from the SST
New Day Rising press kit, is incomplete; the second
part of it evidently reviewed the Minutemen's Double Nickels On The
Dime (and possibly a few other albums).
Photo credit: Laura Levine; Retna Ltd.
|Bob Mould, above, of Hüsker Dü;|
By ROBERT PALMER
Hüsker Dü is often compared to the Minutemen; both bands are trios of
guitar, bass and drums, both play at death-defying tempos, and both record
for the SST label. Now both bands have made new double albums. The
Hüsker Dü double "Zen Arcade," is the most impressive album of the
batch under discussion, and arguably the best to have emerged from the hardcore
The band's guitarist, Bob Mould, is turning into an exceptionally gifted songwriter; the three most immediately impressive songs on "Zen Arcade" ("Turn On The News," "Standing By The Sea," and "Pink Turns To Blue")* would be superb material on any band's album. There are several lyrical, dreamlike instrumental tunes, and the album's concluding track is a 14-minute jam that piles dissonance on top of dissonance, using a theme-and- developments structure and propulsive rhythm vamps to hold things together. It is not as successful as the improvisation on the recent Hüsker Dü single, a revival of the Byrds' "Eight Miles High," but it certainly shows that Hüsker Dü has found a number of avenues to explore, a number of ways out of the trap of more-faster-louder that many more conventional hardcore bands fall into.
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