Husker Du – Flip Your Wig

Ok. I tried hard to go for a different band for my 20 albums section. That will come. Honest (other bands). At the moment i’ve been listening to a lot of Husker Du. So here goes.

Flip Your Wig was released months after New Day Rising and within a year of Zen Arcade. Incredible output given the quality of all the material.

Nowadays bands put out albums every 3 years and the quality? Meh.

Kicking off with the Bob Mould penned Flip Your Wig the sound is noticeably more accessible than anything Husker Du had released at this point. Catchy and powerdriven.

I don’t think I make any secret that I rate Grant Hart’s tracks very slightly higher. Every Everything, Hart’s first track on Flip Your Wig starts with a nice guitar intro. From there the drums drive the track. The pace is set by the pounding rhythm, fast but full of melody. The guitar and bass challenge the drum drive in the tracks last third but the scorch and delivery of Hart’s vocal make it his track.

Onto track 3 and here we are treated to one of Bob Mould’s most catchy songs. Makes No Sense At All could be a blueprint for anyone that has never heard Husker Du (shame on  you!). The track is superbly structured and is pop punk heaven. Shame to see the buzzcore from Metal Circus and Zen Arcade being somewhat muted though. A small quibble. A great track.

Hate Paper Doll clocking in at under 2 minutes again hits a strong powerdriven pop sensibility. Mould is on form and the album is taking shape.

Green Eyes (Hart) is a love song that works in a way love songs just don’t. Mysterious and evocative.  The pace is slow (for Husker Du) but the rhythm and vocal are quite achingly beautiful.

Time for Mould to darken Flip Your Wig. Divide And Conquer whilst not going anywhere near the territory displayed on Zen Arcade is more urgent than anything we’ve heard on Flip Your Wig yet. You just sense the character within the band but know nothing. The track ends with Hart and Mould’s vocals very well played off against each other.

Games closes side 1 of the LP and to me sounds like Mould has penned a Hart track. I had to kick myself that Grant Hart had not written this, did SST get the credits wrong? No. It’s a turning point for Mould’s songwriting as far as i’m concerned. Quite remarkable that a band like The Police can shift millions of units without the heartfelt style this track so clearly displays.

I don’t want to bang on about it but Husker Du are one of the most unrecognised outfits there are. The quality is so high. The output, especially given the timescale (7 albums – 5 years) unparalleled. Remember when Oasis followed Definitely Maybe with (What’s The Story) Morning Glory within a year and everyone wet themselves! This is 10 times better and 10 times more influentially important.

Onto Side 2 and now Mould is now showcasing truly great songwriting skills. The anger is quelled but Find Me is controlled and very evocative. The lyric yearns. Somehow when I listen to this I can see very clearly a video to it that does not exist. Imagine a black and white shot video from a car driving through an inner city built up area speeded-up.  Tower Blocks. Doom – and the yearn in that vocal and scorching muted lapping guitar. “There’s a thousand million voices screaming in my eyes”….

The Baby Song is a novelty. It’s point i’m not quite sure of but at 48 seconds can be forgiven.

Flexible Flyer again sees the Huskers at the new mellow pace that i’m sure attracted Warner Brothers to their potential. The band sound at ease here even if it’s not a stand out moment.

Onto Private Plane and Mould displays near Beach Boy melody. The maturity in his writing is cemented. The track lifts for the last minute and ends in a state of bliss.

Up to this point the album belongs to Mould. The last three tracks are up there with the best come down to an album i’ve ever heard. With Keep Hanging On Grant Hart pens his best track on the album. The track is full of emotion. What it’s actually about no one knows – I read a comment on You Tube under a rip of the audio for this track (you know the type of comment that usually states “You Are Gay!”) and the contributer wrote that he’d visited his Dad who was dying in hospital. Listening to the track and reading that comment I’m not ashamed to say I got a lump in my throat. The track is open to interpretation and when the guitar interupts  Hart’s relentless pounding drums you know you’re listening to a great track.

The come down to Flip Your Wig darkens and forays into art for The Wit And The Wisdom. Again Mould is in sublime form. A kind of muted piano fumbles and is scribbled all over with blistering guitar feedback. Zen Arcade is rearing it’s head – the band nod to their past greatness and show they are moving into new territory at the same time – and it’s glorious. To an untrained ear a mess maybe – but this is quality – and the band are a total unit.

Flip Your Wig closes with a track The Beatles would have been proud of. Don’t Know Yet is just beautiful. Even if you can’t take post punk noise that may be seeming of the Huskers this is so sublime that it’s the kind of track that will make anyone feel what music is all about. Looped backtracked guitar and sublime rhythmic drums / bass paint a beautiful non-existent image. You are literally aurally eased out of Flip Your Wig, the band return you and music has changed for the better.

Flip Your Wig was Husker Du’s last independent release and it’s no wonder they were snapped up by a major record label. The travesty is still no one took any real notice.


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