The year before Hüsker Dü released their epic album Zen Arcade, this absolute gem of a 12" EP on SST flew in under the radar in 1983. Still often overlooked and sometimes underrated, this release is one of the Husker's best efforts and also their most consistent one, with nary a bad song on it (The fact that it's seven tracks long does help though). While the EP generally stays true to the bands' hardcore/ultracore roots there is also being a huge indication of their burgeoning pop sensibilities and illustrating their increasingly clever and mature song writing, elements that would come together perfectly with 1984's double record Zen Arcade. Mixed by SST's producer Spot, the album is a mix of the sort of speed-thrash that typified earlier releases like Land Speed Record and Everything Falls Apart while highlighting the melodies that The 'Dü were discovering and making their own, and even squeezes in a ballad of sorts without sounding out of place.

Most of the songs on the EP were penned by Bob Mould, with the only two Hart songs standing out as the poppiest tracks on the release. 'Real World' opens the album, a track which sticks with the hardcore ethos music-wise, but shows fear in the lyrics at what was being preached (often hypocritically) by other groups; "People talk of anarchy and taking up a fight, well I'm afraid of things like that - I lock my doors at night". 'Deadly Skies' is a downbeat view of nuclear war, realistic in it's pessimism, while 'It's Not Funny Anymore' is Grant Hart's stab at people who can't admit to who they really are, and the bands' first foray into the new style that the Huskers would soon perfect and utilise. Heavily laden with Bob Mould's noodling around the high-end of the frets, it is a wonderful pop song and a brilliant counterpoint to the two hard-edged numbers which preceded it. With 'First of the Last Calls', Mould takes us back to more familiar hardcore territory, but with some poppier elements are a fantastic sing-along(ish) chorus. The second side begins with 'Lifeline', a competent if standard (for the Huskers, anyway), before 'Diane' begins. Hart's second song, it is a four and three-quarter minute long ballad that sounds like a love song, but is a chilling look at abduction and rape, based on the real-life abduction of Dianne Edwards in West St. Paul, Minnesota. 'Out on a Limb' closes the album, a noisy cut that evens out the release.

Often considered the best thing Hüsker Dü had done so far when it was released, this EP may be slightly difficult to track down now, being as it was overshadowed by all the other later, greater, Hüsker Dü releases - but it should be possible to find. Definitely something no self-respecting Hüsker Dü fan should be without.

Tracklisting

01) Real World
02) Deadly Skies
03) It's Not Funny Anymore
04) First of the Last Calls
05) Lifeline
06) Diane
07) Out on a Limb


Band:

Bob Mould - guitar, vocals
Grant Hart - drums, vocals
Greg Norton - bass
Spot - producer, engineer

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