Land Speed Record

Husker Du

SST Records, 1981üsker_Dü

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


In 1981, Husker Du arrived on the scene not with a whimper, but with a thud.

Who else but this Minneapolis-based punk trio would make their debut, Land Speed Record, a live release featuring the band literally plowing through 17 songs in less than a half-hour? Who else would challenge the listener with an if-you-can't-follow-the-music-dive-outta-the-way attitude? Who else would challenge the Ramones for pure adrenaline in their performances?my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

That all being said, Land Speed Record is not the kind of album you may think it is. It's sloppy, unproduced, and damn near unlistenable at times. It's almost as if you're listening to a tape an audience member made and decided to market as a bootleg.

Part of the problem lies with the band -- vocalist/guitarist Bob Mould, bassist/vocalist Greg Norton and vocalist/drummer Grant Hart -- and their don't-give-a-fuck attitude towards their own music. I know this is punk, and that conventional rules were often thrown out the window when it came to punk rock at this time in its history. But even this goes past common sense.

The mix of the show is absolutely atrocious; vocals and instruments fade to the forefront and the background, often with no warning. It's almost as if the soundman was on the job for one day, and was discovering just what all these cool little knobs and slides did.

In a sense, that's really a shame, 'cause Land Speed Record could have been a nice showcase for such Husker Du compositions as "MTC," "All Tensed Up," "Bricklayer" (which would come into its own on Everything Falls Apart) and "Ultracore". Instead, it's a sonic mess.

Of course, some of the blame has to go on the band themselves. They roar through these songs with the gentleness of a bull in a china shop. Every song they touch basically gets splintered, to the point that the album becomes so much white noise.

Disappointed? You bet I am... and that's only because I know how capable the band really was. True, they were still working their way up to the top of their craft (which point that was, though, is still up for discussion... I still lean towards Zen Arcade), but is this really the first impression Mould and company wanted to leave with listeners?

Rating: F

User Rating: D-



© 2000 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of SST Records, and is used for informational purposes only.