Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Quarter Century Review: New Day Rising

This is going to be a new segment I do on here because I just don't have the time or resources to review every album that is released new and, frankly, I wanted a recurring deal on the site. This is not meant as just reviewing a classic album. That is too obvious. The real meaning of "review" here is to review whether the album has stood the test of time or perhaps become greater over time. I will be doing this 25 years from the original release date for albums throughout the year. So let's begin:

Hüsker Dü
New Day Rising
Produced by Hüsker Dü and Spot

As no one knows the exact day this album was released (a great example of how SST Records did business), we are just going to re-experience this one today. Hüsker Dü came up through the hardcore ranks in the early eighties via Minneapolis. Their extremely loud though equally melodic balance paved the way for other local bands (Replacements, Soul Asylum) to receive mainstream attention. The band would go on to a major label themselves on the strength of their opus Zen Arcade and this, shorter but hardly lesser, gem. This album is really what kept SST Records in business while the band never really saw the proper return off of it.

SST house producer Spot usually seemed to go out of his way to stifle the powerful sounds of the label's roster. In a bit of what I guess was luck, he just sat back and got out of the way to let the band do their thing. At this point in time, the songwriting of Bob Mould and Grant Hart was at its apex. It was less about experimenting, the likes of Zen Arcade, and more about honesty and, perhaps, transparency. The songs are relatable, loud, and loaded with hooks and, unlike their hardcore peers, not angry. They showed that you could have loud and emotional without being cheesy. There is real sentiment but no one would ever confuse Hüsker Dü with Journey. That being said, the album does devolve over the last 4 songs as if they were just filling space, knowing their defection was imminent.

As far as jumping from the storied SST label to Warner Bros., it was about survival. New Day Rising was one of many simultaneous SST releases. And while all the records received the same amount of promotion (none), New Day Rising was the only one selling. Black Flag was in limbo and The Minutemen had lost frontman D. Boon to a tragic car wreck, so Hüsker Dü was, for all intents and purposes, the only SST band. If they wanted to see any return on their hard work, they had to leave. Though they didn't last much longer after their departure, we still have this to remember them by.

Overall Grade=8.53

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