Savage Young Dü
The Numero Group
Hüsker Freaking Dü, kids. I’m not sure why I’m even bothering to write an actual review here. Away back in time, in 1979, in the frigid climes of Minneapolis, Minnesota, Bob Mould, Grant Hart, and Greg Norton met at a record store. They formed a band. Mould played guitar and sang. Norton played bass. Hart played the drums and sang. Mould and Hart wrote the songs and took turns on lead vocals. They were vicious. Perhaps the fastest band on the planet. The took punk and sped it up. They were louder and more vicious than anything else, and that includes so-called speed metal, with the possible exception of Bad Brains. Eventually, over the course of the 1980s, they mellowed some and began to make albums of more melodic music, but they never lost that viciousness.
They were hampered some by the generally weak recording quality of SST records, though even their Warner years were somewhat muddied by poor mixes. And then they split amongst great acrimony at the start of 1988. Mould had a drinking problem and was domineering and controlling. He also was managing the band after the suicide of their manager, David Savoy, in 1987. Hart had a bad heroin addiction. Norton, whom I’ve always felt sorry for in between these two, got married and became a chef. The acrimony didn’t really lessen over the years, either. In 2004, Mould and Hart reunited to play a few songs at a benefit for Soul Asylum bassist Karl Mueller in Minneapolis. Mueller was battling cancer, and died the following year. In 2005, Mould reported that the band had not received a proper accounting of sales and royalties by SST (Sonic Youth and the Meat Puppets also sued SST to recover lost royalties and their master tapes). In 2015, the band created its very first website, though it’s just to sell swag.
Why does all this matter? Because without a thawing of relations between the Hüskers, we wouldn’t have Savage Young Dü. This is a collection of everything the band recorded between 1979 and 1983, when it signed with SST. Three discs of noise! If you actually buy the physical copy, you get a nice booklet, too, that recollects the band’s pre-1983 history. This is all of their 7″ releases, plus an ‘alternate’ version of their blistering début, Land Speed Record, as well as a remastered second album, Everything Falls Apart.
And then Hart died on September 13, 2017, of liver cancer. At age 56.
Sometimes there are bands whose output you just have to go listen to, they’re the seminal artists in pop music and pop culture history. Earlier this week, I reviewed Robert Plant’s new album, his first band is one of those seminal bands. Hüsker Dü are another. Do yourself a favor: go listen to Savage Young Dü.
It’s the first time in history that the band has received the audio treatment it deserves. No more muddy mixtures. No more weird distortions of guitars and bass. No more soupy drums. Instead, we get hi-fidelity, and the viciousness (and melody) of early Hüsker Dü comes through.