One of the most important hardcore/alternative rock/indie bands of the 1980s, Hüsker Dü will soon have a very welcome addition to their official discography.
Having spent months teasing the release, Chicago record label Numero Group today put out details of its Savage Young Dü boxset, and it looks great.
The 3xCD, 4xLP set features remasters of the justly-lauded American underground punk band’s entire studio recordings, including the In A Free Land single and Everything Falls Apart album.
Rather than their live debut, there’s an alternate Land Speed Record and then demos, alternate takes, live versions and a small handful of songs that haven’t even seen the light on day on bootlegs.
The two-hour, 40 minute set also comes with a a 108-page hardbound book crammed full of photos, flyers, and a sprawling essay produced with the band’s participation.
Finally, mail order customers can get Extra Circus, a limited edition bonus 7” for mail order customers that collects five previously unissued songs from the January 1983 Metal Circus sessions. They include Heavy Handed, a hardcore blast in the vein of Everything Falls Apart’s Signals From Above or You Think I’m Scared, which is also on Extra Circus.
I’m slightly biased about this. Hüsker Dü are my favourite band – the previous post was even named after one of the piano instrumentals from their monumental double album Zen Arcade – and I’ve already got a lot of this stuff on various bootlegs.
But those traded CDs or even official releases have always sounded … patchy. Land Speed Record is a fairly punishing listen (not exactly helped on the CD version by being collected into just two tracks), and reminds me of free jazz-inflected hardcore, such is its onslaught.
In stark contrast, the Savage Young Dü versions sound amazing, just a revelation.
And you can hear them for yourself already, thanks to NPR, which is streaming the entire set:
Tantalisingly, there are rumours that this could be the first in a series of Hüsker Dü boxsets.
The next logical step would be part or all of the band’s time with SST, a breathtakingly fertile time that saw them release an EP, a double album and two single albums in less than two years.
The prickly ego, and sharp business practices, of SST label hand – and Black Flag head honcho – Greg Ginn may or may not scupper such plans, should they exist. Or the inclusion of material from the Metal Circus sessions could be a positive sign. Who knows.
But that’s in the future. “It’s too early to say,” bassist Greg Norton tells NPR. “But never say never.”
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a boxset to pre-order.