Friday, 25 January 2013
Top 102 Albums. No 62. New Day Rising
Top 102 Albums. No 62.
New Day Rising - Hüsker Dü
As I continue to post on my favourite albums I find that I am uncoupling any pretence of objectivity or order. These are 102 of my favourite albums. I could list another 102 easily and then do the same again. And if I spent enough time I'm sure that I could come up with a new great album every day. Music is abundant but time is firmly rationed.
This is one of the albums which I listened to most back in the eighties and one that still gets pulled out now. The thrill of the wash of guitars; the stuttering, piledriving drumming and the pop nous of the melodies on offer is still potent.
Hüsker Dü first came to my attention through the live album Land Speed Record which was pretty uncompromising hardcore and seemed to have something but didn't really make a huge impression on me. Between 1984 and 1987 they were to release five albums that would make an impression on me, and on many others besides. That list includes two double albums.
It was New Day Rising that really blew my mind. These were massive hits in my mind and I find it difficult to comprehend how little impact they had on the charts. Most of the tracks on this sound like they could have been singles and How to Skin a Cat a funny, throwaway b-side. Perhaps Terms of Psychic Warfare and Fifty Nine Times the Pain don't sound like the titles of hit singles but there's a sense of purpose and energy on the tracks which means that this is never a depressing album. And these are classic songs, full of hooks, smart lyrics and clever, unexpected changes of pace. The lyrics of Terms of Psychic Warfare seem one half of a conversation with the audience. Or is it Grant Hart talking to Bob Mould?
Terms of Psychic Warfare
I see you walking down the road
And the thoughts within my mind explode
But having to hold back taught me a lot about control
And letting it all loose at once when it was time to let you know
You occupied my space and you occupied your mind
By jumping off the roof to the first conclusion you can find
Now all the silver you can steal
Can't buy a piece of what I feel
It's sad but the means they just don't justify the ends
To be forever haunted by the ghosts of all your friends
Painful, yeah that's the way you've chosen it to be
C'mon can't you think of anyone besides me?
Now don't think you're the only one who harbours a self hate
I'm just as guilty of selling what my sweet soul creates
And don't feel bad the next time my memory comes creepin'
You've got your own bed now, I suggest that's the one you sleep in
However there was a lot more than focussed industry going on in the three persons in one band that was Hüsker Dü. Having been signed by Warners and being described somewhere, if my memory serves me right as being ready to became the 'alternative' Beatles, they managed to implode in a very Beatlesy way, with a double album, arguments over whose songs should be on the record and the tragic death of their manager. There was also drugs, alcohol and new partners involved in the split - or so it has been reported. The title of their first studio album, Everything Falls Apart, seemed ominous in retrospect.
Post breakup both Bob Mould and Grant Hart have released some excellent solo and group albums but have never quite hit the heights they attained with Hüsker Dü. And this album is the apex of those heights.