Sunday, January 24, 2016

Rediscovered Albums: Hüsker Dü / Candy Apple Grey

Perception, expectation and a psychotic break down....

" one of the greatest rock and roll records ever recorded." That was my introduction to Husker Du's Candy Apple Grey, when I bought it at Camelot music in 1986. The guy who was working the register then, looked at the cassette in a kind of reverence, read out loud three song titles, (Eiffel Tower High, No Promise Have I Made and All This I've Done For You) nodded in that  satisfied pleased frown as the eyes grin acknowledgment that we've seen from our more laconic mentors that are not known for gushing praise. He was cool...He wore a Kansas t shirt, had long blond feathered hair, and always offered up a bit of conversation about the purchases made by most of the customers. "Africa" by ToTo was playing on the sound system.  I was happily ignorant to the music scene the Huskers where coming from. I bought my music on a whim, or based on what musicians I listened to where listening to. So, thats what Candy Apple Grey was going to be measured against, great rock and roll.

For me Zen Arcade, and Everything Falls Apart where found as I back tracked. I never had to resign myself to the feeling of being trespassed on by the masses grooving to the bloodless lot of music being churned out by The Man that HD was now working for.  I was unaware that this was the  Husker's sell out record. For some Zen Arcade or Everything Falls is HD's high water mark. From what I've read in old interviews with the band members this is the record they seem to hate as well.  Shit, Bob walked away from me once mid sentence when I asked him about it in the 90's when I was on line for one of his solo acoustic shows. Being a guitar player and Bob Mould being one of my top 3 influences I wanted to ask him about his sound on Candy Apple Grey. Up till that point he was gracious and fucking pleasant! It made me question my taste in music if he hated it( and became a pattern; And Justice For All, October, are also hatted by their creators).  Bob Mould in an old interview, has said this record was made because they where making a lot of money and they really didn't care.  Let me tell you though Bob, I don't buy it for a second! You can save face if you want. Working for the man may have damaged your street cred some. The Replacements and Soul Asylum where doing it. Didn't HD deserve a little cashola in their pockets?  Hey! alienation and beating off home alone on a Friday night isn't good enough for every one. If you listeners where expecting them to keep repeating ZA then your expectations are low. Most of the great punk and hard core bands where not dullards. They are articulate, even they managed to get out of their parents basement. Come to join us!

Let me tell you ALL  another thing. Selling out did nothing to dim the white, hot glare Candy Apple Grey radiates. This record unwinds a swirling mosquito whine that threads through the entirety of this record,buzzing like your head under high anxiety. "Crystal" could no fucking way be performed by a man in a financial malaise.

There are waves of anxiety, mania and looming paranoia in Mould's writing on this record but "Crystal" is performed by a man with little equilibrium. Grant Hart delivers in spades on Candy Apple Grey!!!  "Dead Set On Destruction" absolutely ROCKS manly Hemingway poetic ambiguity and imagery like a set of low swinging brass balls.  In stead of a mummified snow leopard signaling finality there's a grounded plane and a storm. Many song writers have tried the poetic tough guy persona very few succeed. They'll fall into pretentious, flaccid self importance or over wrought not even able to make it to the bed. "Eiffel Tower High", "No Promise Have I Made" and "All This I've Done For You" close out the album and feel like one song.  The OUUWWWOUUWWOUWWWS in ETH AND ATIDFY are the continuity here.

Bob's condition has evolved into hallucinations. Grant has resolved his situation in golden and copper piano chords then rides into the either. Bob ends the record in an epiphany. Candy Apple Grey is manic and thematic; Bob Mould is having a psychotic episode and Grant Hart is in a desolving relationship.

There where Easter eggs hidden in plain site all over Zen Arcade that Husker Du were going to leave the Metal Circus behind for more melodic fauna. Flip Your Wig to my ear is catchier than Candy Apple Grey. The former is a contained storm by comparison though and the most consistent and thematic of all of the library. Its a capsule of what they where going through. I reading into it all  hearing what I want. Isn't that the point. Revisit this record!

Photo credit: Dave Rick at Maxwell's in the 1980's

Keep the windows down and your eyes on the horizon!


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