Hüsker Dü were the ultimate power trio. From hardcore punk beginnings, the band pioneered alternative rock sounds which eventually blended distinctly US punk noise with a more thoughtful singer-songwriter approach, which in turn paved the way for guitarist/vocalist Bob Mould’s solo career. Contrasting Mould’s abrasive approach, drummer/vocalist Grant Hart later wrote songs with a more palatable quality. Hart – a truly underappreciated songwriter – captured raw and emo-ish beauty on tunes like ‘Don’t Want To Know If You Are Lonely’ and ‘Every Everything’; tunes that were pivotal to the Hüskers’ balance between sheer force and a cerebral approach to punk.
Hart’s untimely death, following a battle with cancer, at the age of 56 in September 2017 gave a finality to years of hope of a Hüsker Dü reunion. In many ways, he was the most important member of the band; powerhouse drummer and a fine lyricist too often in the giant shadow cast by Bob Mould across the world of rock. It’s time Hart’s many post-Hüskers works were given a reappraisal too; the Nova Mob output is worth an ear…and even years after Hüsker Dü stopped being a reality, Hart still made a critical and almost academic impact; his 2013 release ‘The Argument’ was a sprawling double concept album based on works by John Milton, a far cry from anything the unenlightened would expect from a “punk musician”.
The first Nova Mob album’s success was scuppered by a folding record company; his own ‘Intolerance’ was partly a victim to not being Hüsker Dü, but remains a fascinating document of a man in turmoil, much like Syd Barrett’s ‘Madcap Laughs’ almost two decades before. It’s true, Hart’s life was plagued by trouble, but it’s much better to think about the broad and lasting influence he had upon a subsequent generation than any misfortune, or scant record sales.
There are many ways to remember Grant Hart’s legacy, but this blistering hour of Hüsker Dü captured live in the UK on the ‘New Day Rising Tour’ is both essential viewing and brilliantly abrasive some thirty-plus years on.
Goodbye, Grant. Thanks for being such an influence upon so many.