Here are the facts about Numero Group’s 3 C.D./4 L.P. set (with hardcover book), Savage Young Dü:
Most of the tapes came from the collection of Terry Katzman, the former owner of Minneapolis record shop Garage D’or and an early Hüsker Dü soundman, who co-founded Reflex Records with Bob Mould to put out some of band’s early titles (including “Statues” and Everything Falls Apart). “Terry Katzman documented almost everything the band did, going back to the very end of 1979,” says Numero’s Ken Shipley, who took Katzman’s stash of “maybe 130” tapes back to Chicago in June of 2016.
Once home, Shipley transferred the hoard — including a good sixty more tapes from the Hüskers’ own collections — to digital, working primarily at Electrical Audio, the Chicago studio owned by famed engineer and musician Steve Albini. Once there, old titles were “completely remixed to the exacting standards of what the record was — but improved,” says Shipley. “It was, boom! Perfect.”
While the joy of having previously unheard music from Hüsker Dü is certainly marred by the passing of drummer/singer/songwriter Grant Hart, these discs will easily bring a rush of excitement to anyone who was ever a fan – and a perfect primer for illustrating as to how it should be done (and how it was done, with no compromises) to young people/burgeoning musicians.
Of the previously unheard material, “Sore Eyes” is a speedy but melodic and tight track – not exactly hardcore; definitely punk-ish and Mould’s young voice has a terrific feel; “Can’t See You Anymore” is a tongue-in-cheek horny teenager’s lament and, frankly, is hilarious and catchy; “Picture Of You” is fast, taut and basically The Buzzcocks going at 150 m.p.h. instead of 100. “The Truth Hurts” is a slower, heavy rock piece that would have fit in on any of the Huskers’ later albums – and it has to be noted, the mixed/restoration of these early recordings is stellar. “Do The Bee” (on the later Land Speed Record live debut album) is far more coherent and (again) catchy, although of a slightly less quality, sound-wise; “All I’ve Got To Lose Is You” is another uptempo punk-pop number and would, again, fit perfectly on Flip Your Wig or Candy Apple Grey. Of course, the band’s debut single, “Statues” and “Amusement” is here as well – sounding bigger and better than previously heard.
For me, the third disc (I’m in possession of the C.D. version) is the prize – the remixed, full-on clear firepower of the “In A Free Land” single and the band’s debut studio album, Everything Falls Apart. From the title track to “Bricklayer”, “Punch Drunk”, “Target” and “From The Gut”, it immediately catapulted me back into my late teens, albeit without the burning anger I may have once had, but giving me an emotional adrenaline rush. On a good day, for me to consciously sit and listen to hardcore punk would be unthinkable, but hearing these songs with fresh ears, fresh mixes and a very long space in time from the last time I actively listened, brought me a great deal of joy.
It’s easy to rhapsodize poetic about Hüsker Dü, but it would be prudent for me to say this: get this boxset and listen to it, end to end. It’s fascinating; it’s eye-opening, energetic and its beauty and strength lies in the fact that this incredible trio was as progressive as they were ground-breaking as they were shit-hot and tight and fucking talented. There has never been nor could there ever be a question about it: Hüsker Dü were simply the best and we will never see the likes of them again. So revel in this; it’s a vital document.
ESSENTIAL LISTENING – HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Savage Young Dü is currently available