Saturday, June 22, 2013

Husker Du - "Candy Apple Grey" (LP Review)

"Candy Apple Grey" is Husker Du's 1986 major label debut after four critically acclaimed LPs (and one EP) on Reflex Records and SST Records.  This means there are two general reactions to the LP: many long-time fans accused them of selling out, and major magazines (e.g., Rolling Stone) fawned over the LP in an effort to make up for ignoring their 1982-1985 output.

In retrospect, most reviewers feel the truth is somewhere in between (e.g., Punknews, Culture Fusion).  This is a good LP that should be in your collection, but it lacks the intensity and consistency of LPs like "New Day Rising" and "Flip Your Wig".  It is tempting to put the blame on the big, bad major label but apparently the real villain is the increasing rivalry between Grant Hart and Bob Mould.  Perhaps the Warner Brothers deal kept the band together longer than they would have if they had remained on SST. 

Parts of "Candy Apple Grey" would be at home on any of their previous releases: "Don't Want to Know If You're Lonely", "Sorry Somehow", "Crystal".  Some represent a more poppy, college radio sound that hints at their later solo releases, like "Too Far Down", "Hardly Getting Over It", "No Promise Have I Made".  Those songs are fine, but the weakest moment on the LP are songs like "Dead Set On Destruction" and "Eiffel Tower High".  Those two songs, while not terrible, have a kind of awkward self-awareness; I can imagine Bob and Grant saying to themselves "hey, in the next 30 minutes I need to write a song that rocks harder than {Bob's|Grant's}!".

Standout songs: "Don't Want to Know If You're Lonely", "Sorry Somehow", "Too Far Down", "Hardly Getting Over It"

Skip 'em songs: "Dead Set On Destruction", "Eiffel Tower High"

Final score: 7/10.  WB Husker Du pales in comparison to SST Husker Du, but it is still better than most bands.

Bonus link: MTV review of "Candy Apple Grey" (featuring Martha Quinn), complete with May 1986 tour dates in case you invent a time machine and want to catch them live (after killing baby Hitler, of course). 

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