Thursday, January 14, 2010

Review #42: Hüsker Dü - Land Speed Record (1981)


Genre: Punk Rock
Sub-Genres: Hardcore
Label: New Alliance Records
Tracks: 17
Length: 26 Minutes (Medium-Length)
Style: Political/Fun
My Rating: 6/8

Hüsker Dü was a punk rock band that formed in 1979. They were one of the several bands to help build the alternative rock genre in the mid-'80s, and were known for their classic album, "Zen Arcade". However, awhile before that, they were a lot like any other hardcore band. They wrote really fast, hard songs. They sang about their disgust with the Cold War and Ronald Reagan's policies. They sang songs that didn't really hold any meaning. This was their first LP, and it was recorded live in August 1981 at 7th St. Entry, Minneapolis. As a result, the sound quality is a little blurry, and it's almost impossible to understand the lyrics, but fortunately, they provided a lyric sheet with the album.

1. All Tensed Up
Starts with the sounds of a few members of the crowd screaming. It's a pretty good fast thrash song. The lyrics are about a guy who took so many pills to curb his appetite that he's really jittery and can hardly stand still.

2. Don't Try to Call
Really cool riff. It goes well with the beat. The song's about a person whose friend is turning into an unstable maniac, and the protagonist is trying to beckon the other person to "forget his name" and "forget his number" and to stop calling him.

3. I'm Not Interested
This song is about a girl who's "living in another world" and "is too damn surreal"; probably a popular girl with few problems in life 'er something like that. The chorus part of the song is about the singer not being interested in what she has to say "because it's all lies anyway."

4. Guns at My School
This song is about, well, guns at school. Basically a criticism of violence as a use of solving problems and how society thinks guns are "cool". Just under a minute long.

5. Push the Button
I like the riff for this one, as well. It's about a hypothetical situation if the government became so paranoid that they "pushed the button" and started a nuclear war in which everybody would have to live underground in a cave. This song has a relatively lengthy solo.

6. Gilligan's Island
A song about wanting to fuck Ginger from "Gilligan's Island" under a palm tree and making the professor make good drugs. These sentiments are succeeded by a solo. Ironically, two-thirds of the members of Hüsker Dü were gay.

7. MTC
Not quite sure what this one's REALLY about, but it describes a guy rushing to get onto the bus, where everybody's scurrying about and there's hardly any room for him to sit.

8. Don't Have a Life
This one is more interesting. It has a neat, noisy riff and a crazy bassline. The song is basically about the song's protagonist not having a life that he/she would want to spend with a certain other person, for according to their idea, it would REALLY suck. End of Side 1.

9. Bricklayer
This one is extremely fast. It's about a dude who throws heavy bricks from a window of a building at peoples' heads.

10. Tired of Doing Things
The single line of this song is "Tired of Doing Things Your Way", which is repeated, as the song's tempo gradually speeds up.

11. You're Naive
This song attacks politicians and those who follow them. It also attacks Nazi punks who claim to be anarchists but celebrate the ideas of White Supremacy, putting all of the targets of this song off as naive sheeple who don't know what to believe.

12. Strange Week
This song names all of the names of the days of the week and repeats "Strange Week" a lot. This week must've been really strange. Uhh, there are seven days in a week. Words of wisdom from Hüsker Dü indeed. But yeah, their week was apparently really strange. I'll just take their word for it.

13. Do the Bee
A new dance invented by Hüsker Dü! It's called "the Bee!". You buzz around to the guitar noise, fly around like a queen and... pollinate? Somehow. I like the riff of this one. Yes, I'm a sucker for songs in the key of "E". "E" rhymes with "Bee". And "Bee" rhymes with "Be". And "Be" rhymes with "B". And "B" rhymes with "Bee". THE BEE.

14. Big Sky
The sky is pretty big. The city is big, to a lesser extent. There are black and white people. And they also remind you to "shove that tape-deck up your ass". I probably wouldn't have known to do that if they didn't tell me in advance.

15. Ultracore
An anti-Cold War tune. Very fast. The chorus goes "Ultracore, ultracore, we don't wanna die in your fucking war". Basically expressing the fury and reluctance of what Ronald Reagan almost imposed on his own citizens.

16. Let's Go Die
I think it might be about a punk trying to run away from jail who gets caught and is stuck because "Now you've got me, I'm here to stay". It could also be about a punk trying to run away from home. Not sure

17. Data Control
The slowest and longest song on the album. It has a good riff. Really interesting lyrics about the government attempting to keep track of all data of every citizen ("a nine-digit number for every living soul"). Exposes the corporate and multinational monolith that becomes more and more prominent in society. This song is more relevant now than it was in 1981. There's a pretty legit noise solo at the end. Ends with Grant Hart telling the crowd, "we'll be back for another set..."

So, that's "Land Speed Record". I don't think they kept that record for long, though. 'Cause, like, Deep Wound n' stuff... anyways, the lyrics here REALLY remind me of something Jello Biafra would write. Maybe not as intriguing as his lyrics, but they definitely share a lot of the same ideas, especially with the final track. However, it sounds a lot different from "Zen Arcade", or another one of their more well-known records. Here, they were just starting out, and they still had a way to go, but there are still some very good songs on this record.

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