Thursday, 24 February 2011

Affecting Albums - Warehouse: Songs and Stories - Husker Du

(Click on the links in the song titles to be taken to Spotify for a listen)

Husker Du were one of those "nearly but not quite" bands, whose reputation has continued to blossom long after their demise. Formed in Minnesota in the late 70s, by the late 80s they'd ceased to exist, but thankfully left a rich vinyl legacy for us to revel in.

They were one of the first underground acts to be signed by a major label, and although they didn't get the success they were after (or that they deserved), they paved the way for the transition of the alternative sound to the mainstream arena, along with other bands such as REM.

They are thought of by many as a punk / post-punk outfit, and while that was true for their early work, they quickly developed a keen melodic sense and pop feel, which sat just underneath their "wall of guitar" sound. Along with such other magnificently titled albums as Zen Arcade, Candy Apple Grey, and Flip Your Wig; Warehouse: Songs and Stories is a collection of fine pop and rock and roll tunes.

Warehouse was the last release from the band, as the tension between the two major songwriting talents in the unit, Grant Hart and Bob Mould had, by that stage, become unsustainable (the other member of the band, bassist Greg Norton did not write songs for Husker Du).

Perhaps because this was the band's final act, Warehouse comes in at a weighty 20 tunes, which makes it good value from the off - that a sizeable number are very good, and that a few are the best songs the band released, are the icing on the cake.

Fans familiar with Mould's later band Sugar will recognise the guitar sound on this album immediately - it's HUGE - which means this three piece never feels thin on the ground.

The many stand out songs on this album are headlined by Could you be the One?, a very catchy tune, with typical Bob Mould lyrics of personal confusion. Other great Mould penned tunes are Standing in the Rain, Ice Cold Ice, which has a great chorus, and Friend, You've Got to Fall, with it's great falling chorus melody that echoes the song's title.

Grant Hart kicks in with some pearlers to - Charity, Chastity, Prudence, and Hope, and You're a Soldier, with it's searing commentary ("...Can you tell me just how many did you kill today?"), Too much Spice, and She Floated Away, which is almost a folk song.

These few are just the highlights for me of the 20 tunes on this disc - so if you're interested in finding out more about a band that links punk to alternative rock, Warehouse: Songs and Stories is a fine entree into the world of Husker Du.

Warehouse: Songs and Stories is available from iTunes or from Amazon

Cheers for now, from
A View Over the Bell

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