Hüsker Dü Database
Magazine articles & interviews

Puncture #9, Spring 1985

Hüsker Dü (Bob, to be specific) made the cover of the Spring 1985 issue of Puncture, a tidy, well-edited San Francisco zine. This issue featured a review of the 01 Mar 1985 SST showcase at The Stone (videotaped and later marketed as the concert video The Tour) and a review of New Day Rising, both of which are reproduced below.

Puncture #9 table of contents excerpt
Live shot of Greg at from the table of contents page, taken at an unknown location by an unknown photographer, possibly The Keystone in Palo Alto (Dec 1984) and Katherine Spielmann, respectively.

The Stone
San Francisco
March 1, 1985

Arizona's Meat Puppets played a largely
restrained, melodic, country-based set,
seemingly far removed from the joyful
noise of their recent past. But this
wasn't a lovingly recreated pastiche such
as the Long Ryders (and Dave Edmunds
before them) turn out. Like labelmates
Husker Du, whose supposed "neo-psyche-
delia" is far removed from the Sixties
revivalism of the "Paisley Underground,"
Meat Puppets have gone through hardcore,
and learned its lessons of economy and
power. They've arrived at their current
sound as something new. There is a
fractured, off-key intensity which --
coupled with the visual evidence of
guitarists Chris and Curt Kirkwood's
frantic gestures and leaps -- reveals a
thoroughly contemporary feel (though
paradoxically one which captures what it
must have been like to see a real C&W
hero like Hank Williams). Meat Puppets
play from the gut, not from a dictionary
of musical history, so it's not sur-
prise that at least one cover -- The
Allman Brothers' "Midnight Rider" -- was
plated as thrash, very expertly at that.
   The Minutemen are an awesome sight:
bassist Mike Watt, with three-day stubble
for hair, seems to have stepped out of a
'77 punk band; guitarist and principal
songwriter D. Boon is a roly-poly figure
in enormous baggy shorts, bouncing up and
down continuously. "Punk rock changed our
life," goes a line from one of their songs,
but by now their music has evolved into a
tight, mutant funk-punk thrash over which
Boon projects his terse, incisive lyrics.
   He may just be the best wordsmith
around right now.  In short, pared-down-
to-basics songs like "Working Men Are
Pissed" he lists the realities of America
today with heartfelt intensity. The band,
which might be thought of as San Pedro's
collective Bob Dylan for the 80s, brought
onstage a sign reading US Out of Central
America and turned their best song,
"Corona," into an anthem of defiance --
"The people will survive."

                              PUNCTURE 11

   The crowd responded with a roar.  And
that was nothing compared to the recep-
tion given headliners Husker Du.
   Suddenly, over the last year, the
Huskers have conquered all. The new album
sold close to 30,000 in the first few
weeks.  Even The New York Times gave the
last one a rave review.  Yet they remain
totally credible, in touch with real
people and real concerns, completely down
to earth in their attitude (and their
public seems to recognize this). As indi-
viduals they haven't changed, but musi-
cally they've leapt light years ahead of
the pack. They never were just a hardcore
band -- there was always a strong pop
sensibility lurking under the scalding
thrash (remember their cover of Donovan's
"Sunshine Superman"?). But they've worked
out how to broaden the musical panorama
of hardcore, infusing it with powerful
melodies and thoughtful lyrics without
sacrificing anything in strength and
   As usual, they launched directly into
the first song ("Something I Learned To-
day") and carried straight on through for
an hour. No extraneous antics, not a word
of chat, just solid action. Only when the
crowd's persistent dive-bombing off the
stage reached ridiculous levels did Bob
Mould halt long enough to say "this is
gonna stop right now."
   It was prime Husker Du, reminiscent in
pace and intensity of early Ramones
shows. They seemed perhaps a little below
their best at first -- maybe because of
the slightly muddy sound, maybe on
account of the unaccustomedly bright
lighting (SST were videoing the show for
possible later release). But they were
soon in full, fast, and furious flow,
giving us a wide range of material from
their by now extensive catalogue.
   "Everything Falls Apart," one of their
early thrash classics, has been reworked
to fit seamlessly into their recent, more
overtly harmonic style. "It's Not Funny
Anymore" and "Diane" from 1983's Metal
Circus have also evolved with the band.
Even the songs they did from the recent
New Day Rising, like "I Apologize" and
"Girl Who Lives on Heaven Hill," gained
in melodic depth and power over the

12 SPRING 1985
recorded versions.
   For their encore, the Huskers opened
with the outstanding "Pink Turns To
Blue," followed by their astonishing and
still improving reconstruction job on
"Eight Miles High." The title line has by
now turned into a full-scale roar from
the depths of Bob Mould's throat, but in
contrast he delivers the rest of the
verse almost tenderly, singing slow,
clear, and low in a minor key -- like a
harmony vocal line without the lead. An
equally great "Ticket To Ride" finally
sealed my conviction that Bob and Grant
are up there with Phil and Don (Everly,
of course!) in the vocal harmony stakes,
and to follow it with the Mary Tyler
Moore Show theme ("You're Gonna Make It
After All")... clearly, this band is God.
   Finally, they almost stopped -- and
then fed out the opening chords to...
"Louie, Louie." Joined onstage by the
other bands, the SST ensemble then
proceeded lovingly to thrash said garage
classic within an inch of its life. They
left the stage one by one, until only
Curt Kirkwood remained, beating away at
the drums and gazing forlornly around
from time to time as if he couldn't
believe the party had to end.
                            —Jean Debbs


HUSKER DU New Day Rising 12" 33.3 rpm SST Records P.O. Box 1 Lawndale, CA 90260 It's not surprising that reviewers assume accents of confused rapture in trying to describe the music of Husker Du. The Minneapolis trio seem to have thrown off everything that could tie them down. Limitations of idiom, region, and training no longer seem to count for the Huskers. They've taken off. New Day Rising doesn't intend to outdo last year's extraordinary Zen Arcade double album. That's made clear by the down-home (if not down-market) cover and by a certain casualness of selection. (The version of drummer Grant Hart's "Girl Who Lives on Heaven Hill" is vocally so over-the-top it comes across as a bad song. Yet the band made it sound marvelous at the Stone in March.) Still, don't imagine you can skip this release. Anyone who's wondered about the nature of Husker Du's music will want to study the evidence on this record. Let's take "Perfect Example," a track that's drawn less attention than some of the others. The abstract lyric sketches
mental pain in the per-
sistence of memory. The
unassuming tune, like a
phrase half-sung while
brooding in the attic, is
laid over a quiet, heart-
less guitar pattern and low
hums of priestly dolor. The
sparse tune and business-
like pace finish it off
without sentimentality: an
incommunicable kind of
misery has been laid bare.
Maybe one reason Husker Du
have come so far is that
they tackle tough songs.
Using simple parts, they
build musical models of
complex (at times close to
ineffable) themes.
   Another way in which the
band keeps working and
developing is in the vocal
harmonizing between Hart
and guitarist/vocalist Bob
Mould. In their latest Bay
Area appearance Hart's
backups were an intuitive
drawing-out of hidden
splendors in the vocal
   "New Day Rising," "Cel-
ebrated Summer," and "Pow-
erline" are examples of the
band's most characteristic
and elevated current style.
Firm and convincing notes
of meaning are struck from
the words (in the title
song, no more than the
three of the title). The
tunes, typically major
blasts of three or four
notes, accumulate, layer,
and reverberate, often with
minor harmonies, leading to
celestially heartening
                --Kit Drumm

Back to Hüsker Dü magazine articles page
Back to Hüsker Dü database main page