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Husker Du: The Story of the Noise-Pop Pioneers Who Launched Modern Rock Hardcover – November 18, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Considered one of the most influential rock bands of the 1980s, the Minnesota-based Hüsker Dü helped to lay the groundwork that led to the ultimate success of such pop-punk groups as the Replacements, Sonic Youth, the Pixies, Soul Asylum, Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, and Green Day, among others. Earles offers biographical portraits of band members—guitarist Bob Mould, drummer Grant Hart, and bassist Greg Norton—and discusses the group’s tuneful hard rock, or, as he describes it, “super-noisy songs.” Although they never achieved widespread mainstream success, Hüsker Dü were among the first underground rock bands to sign with a major label (Warner Brothers in 1986), which prompted more than a few fans to accuse them of selling out, an accusation Earles considers to have been “greatly exaggerated.” Charting their early days, nonstop touring, and defiant embrace of the DIY ethic, Earles carefully examines the band’s output in thoughtful criticism of their work, including Land Speed Record, their seminal concept album Zen Arcade, and their Warner Brothers debut Candy Apple Grey. A must for all followers of contemporary rock. --June Sawyers

Book Description

Taking their name from a popular Danish children’s board game, Bob Mould, Grant Hart, and Greg Norton formed Hüsker Dü in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1979 as a wildly cathartic outfit fueled by a cocktail of volume and velocity. Author Andrew Earles examines how Hüsker Dü became the first hardcore band to marry pop melodies with psychedelic influences and ear-shattering volume, and in the process become one of the most influential rock bands of the 1980s indie underground. Earles also explores how the Twin Cities music scene, the creative and competitive dynamic between Mould and Hart, and their personal lives all contributed to the band’s incredible canon and messy demise. Few bands from the American indie movement did more than Hüsker Dü to inform the alternative rock styles that breached the mainstream in the 1990s. Here, finally, is the story behind their brilliance. 

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Voyageur Press; First edition (November 18, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0760335044
  • ISBN-13: 978-0760335048
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.1 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #959,243 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By R. Squibbs on December 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a solid book, but ultimately a frustrating one. First, the good: Earles admirably achieves his aim of refusing to provide more grist to the mill of salacious gossip and speculation that has surrounded this band since their breakup. He also provides a welcome corrective account of the early days of the Minneapolis punk & new wave scene, in which we see the band having to work extremely hard to get people in that scene to take them seriously; this fact is often glossed over in the retrospective accounts that paint an ideal image of a music community that was accepting and nurturing from the get-go. And Earles does a remarkably good job of negotiating his way through Mould's lack of participation in the project; this isn't a Bob-bashing book, but neither does it sugarcoat how difficult it must've been for Grant and Greg to contend with his ferocious drive and massively defensive ego. On the whole, then, this is mandatory reading for anyone interested in Husker Du, whether a longtime fanatic (like me) or a young newbie.

Now, the bad. The editing (as others have noted) is frequently appalling: particular quotes and sentences are repeated verbatim throughout the book; and the bizarre narrative structure, in which earlier material is unnecessarily recapped dozens of pages later, makes for jarring reading (this isn't Earles's fault so much as his editor's, who should be taken outside and given forty lashes for these egregious lapses). But more than these formal matters, the book suffers from an over-emphasis on the band's formative and SST years, all of which have been covered to a significant extent in previous writings, most notably in Azerrad's book.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Leaman G. Crews on February 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I wish I could give Andrew Earles' book on Husker Du a higher rating than three stars, because when it is enjoyable, it is thoroughly enjoyable. But unfortunately this book is riddled with factual errors, typos, an inconsistent tone, and an overall "rushed" feeling. I wonder if Earles was trying to get his book out before Bob Mould's memoirs, which as of this writing are still in the works, but will surely cover a lot of the same material.

What makes the book worth reading is the fact that it is the first full-length Husker Du biography. There has been a lot written about the Huskers over the years, but there's never been a book like this. The new and insightful interviews with two-thirds of the band, Grant Hart and Greg Norton, are truly a joy and very welcome. The behind-the-scenes look at the Minneapolis punk scene, and the early alternative rock scene, of the 1980s is also fun to read about, even if there's not much in these areas that haven't been covered in other writings.

Now for the bad stuff. I can overlook a typo or two, or a factual error here or there. But there are so many throughout the book, it gets to be too much to ignore. Off the top of my head, Earles refers to all the early punk/New Wave bands that were signed to Sire Records, and at least twice claims Blondie were signed to Sire. This is just not true, as Blondie was on the New York indie Private Stock, and later Chrysalis, but never on Sire. Candy Apple Grey is mentioned as having been recorded in September 1986, but released in March 1986; it's clear the first date should be 1985. While these typos are in and of themselves not a big deal, when the almost exact same paragraph about Sire shows up a chapter later, you wonder if there was any fact-checking going on here at all.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Ed Guy on November 3, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I have to admit, I came into this with low expectations, suspecting (correctly) that Bob Mould wouldn't have any part of it, what with his own autobio in the works. But Earles gathered up more than enough archival material to represent Mould's POV and also complement the scads of exclusive new stuff he got from Grant and Greg. He also interviewed scene heavyweights like Mike Watt, Joe Carducci, and Steve Albini, not to mention Twin Cities players like Terry Katzman, Chris Osgood, and Tom Hazelmyer, all to name just a few. Thankfully, Earles chose a straight narrative route rather than the too-oft-used oral history format. Also, the many appendixes at the back of the book are a stellar addition not often seen in other music bios.

My only gripes are very minor: 1) at times Earles seems a bit overly deferential to the band as a whole and the members individually, though given their history, his caution is understandable (to be fair, he is brutally honest--and accurate--in his opinions about some of the band's releases), and 2) even though I find dustjackets archaic and unnecessary, I'm not a big fan of the school book binding.

Oh, and the bumper sticker included inside the book was a very nice, unexpected bonus. What Would Husker Du, indeed.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jason on November 14, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Well, let me start out by saying this was pretty great, if you have the patience to get through it. The details are fairly exhaustive, and as others have said the author doesn't waste time with superlatives, rather giving accounts of the era and how the band operated within the hardcore scene at the time. Mould didn't contribute because he's releasing an autobiography soon, obviously a conflict of interest versus a disagreement over the tone/content of the book. Mould always was quite stubborn anyways, it always had to be his way or no way. I have two concerns with the book, the first just that so much of the music presented within can't be had currently (not Husker Du's catalog obviously, the other bands and the comps released on Reflex) without some major trading, how disappointing it is to hear about something you can probably never listen to first hand. The second is that writing style. It goes back and forth from time to time, and can be fairly dense (name check here, date there, et cetera)
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