Candy Apple Grey

Husker Du

Warner Brothers Records, 1986üsker_Dü

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Often, tension within a band results in some of the best work they ever will do. For the Minneapolis punk rock band Husker Du, the struggle was over leadership of the band, a struggle which almost always seemed to plague the band. On one side, the balls-out, decibel-shattering cacophany of guitarist Bob Mould; on the other, the more pop, hit-song orientation of drummer Grant Hart. (Caught in the middle of all this is poor Greg Norton, left to thump away on his bass.)

Amid cries of sell-out when they moved from indie label SST to the majors, the conflict seemed to come to a head on their major label debut, Candy Apple Greymy_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 . And while it didn't have the rawness that first attracted me to the band, it does feature some of their best work.

The battle for control is there from the opening notes of "Crystal," featuring the orgasmic creams of Mould and the guitar work that sounds like he's destroying his instrument as he's playing it. In a word, incredible.

But Hart is a formidable songwriter himself; "Don't Want To Know If You Are Lonely" and "Sorry Somehow" are solid band efforts that focus more on the songwriting than the instrumental work.

But the most powerful moment on Candy Apple Grey belongs to Mould, who shares the spotlight only with his 12-string acoustic guitar. "Too Far Down" is a slab of pathos and helplessness that, I don't think, has ever been equalled in any genre. This is a song that just would not have worked with the entire trio, and has remained one of my favorite tracks.

Mould stays in an introspective mood for "Hardly Getting Over It," which features the entire band. More gentle than the typical Husker Du song, this shift in style is even more powerful than the band flailing away as fast as they could. If this is a sellout, then put me first in line for whatever they're selling.

Unfortunately, when the energy level has been set on 11, it eventually has to sink. The second half of the album suffers from this letdown. While "Eiffel Tower High" and "Dead Set On Destruction" would have stood out on their own on another album, they pale in comparison to the classics presented here.

So who won the battle for control? On this album, if you go on the songwriting credits, Mould edges Hart out. But in the end, everybody lost - Husker Du self-destructed while on tour for their follow-up album to Candy Apple Grey. Hart released one solo album and disappered into obscurity, while Mould went on to success both as a solo artist and with Sugar.

But Candy Apple Grey ranks in my book as one of two must-own albums from Husker Du (I won't tell which is the other; you'll just have to keep reading "The Daily Vault"), and though there are some weaknesses on this one, it still is a strong effort overall.

Rating: B

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© 1997 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 Warner Brothers Records, and is used for informational purposes only.