Sunday, December 19, 2010

Hüsker Dü - Eight Miles High/Makes No Sense At All

Another Sunday, another 10" record. Later than usual today, being out of commission for a few days has me behind schedule here. Anyway, these odd-sized records just looks strange on the turntable, sort of a weird bastard child of the 12" and the 7".

SST was in steep decline when they put this out in 1990, combining Hüsker Dü's most successful 7" releases on one 10", even though these were released 5 and 6 years earlier. Two of these four tracks were unavailable any other way, and they had received a lot of buzz over the years, so SST had a lot to gain by re-releasing them. They had also run out of quality artists at this point. Hüsker Dü was long gone, having moved on to Warner Bros. in 1986, before dissolving in a haze of drugs and suicide (their manager killed himself) in 1988. SST's latest crop of big-time acts, Sonic Youth & Dinosaur Jr. had recently fled, and Greg Ginn was putting out more and more modern jazz recordings, which the label's fans never bought. They had to dig into the back catalog for new releases that could make them some money, it seems. In an effort to keep up with the times and Sub Pop, the vinyl is bright green.

A lot has already been written about these singles. Hüsker Dü's cover of "Eight Miles High" is seen as some sort of landmark, where mid 80's College Radio, Alternative Rock or whatever you want to call it, took a 60's classic and completely and utterly changed it, throwing in all kinds of angst, anger and pure volume that was never present in the original in the process. It's an intense and great recording. "Masochism World" was a favorite of mine on the Zen Arcade album, and a live version was the original B-side for this. Which is too bad, really. They could have really gone for the full psychedelic 60's redux and thrown a version of "Hare Krishna" on there instead. That would have kicked ass.

"Makes No Sense At All" is still a great song, but this single was better known for its B-side, as the Huskers did the theme from the Mary Tyler Moore show. Their little homage to hometown Minneapolis. Another great and unexpected cover.

No clue where or when I picked this up. Hüsker Dü was my favorite band in high school, and while they had been replaced by Mudhoney and Sonic Youth by 1990, this was something I would have eagerly snapped up, especially since my only copies of "Eight Miles High" and "Love Is All Around" were copies of copies on battered cassettes. A CD was released of this, but today I'm glad I went for the vinyl.

A: Eight Miles High, Masochism World (Live)
B:  Makes No Sense At All, Love Is All Around