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Zen Arcade

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
In many ways, it's impossible to overestimate the impact of Hüsker Dü's Zen Arcade on the American rock underground in the '80s. It's the record that exploded the limits of hardcore and what it could achieve. Hüsker Dü broke all of the rules with Zen Arcade. First and foremost, it's a sprawling concept album, even if the concept isn't immediately clear or comprehensible. More important are the individual songs. Both Bob Mould and Grant Hart abandoned the strict "fast, hard, loud" rules of hardcore punk with their songs for Zen Arcade. Without turning down the volume, Hüsker Dü try everything -- pop songs, tape experiments, acoustic songs, pianos, noisy ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
In many ways, it's impossible to overestimate the impact of Hüsker Dü's Zen Arcade on the American rock underground in the '80s. It's the record that exploded the limits of hardcore and what it could achieve. Hüsker Dü broke all of the rules with Zen Arcade. First and foremost, it's a sprawling concept album, even if the concept isn't immediately clear or comprehensible. More important are the individual songs. Both Bob Mould and Grant Hart abandoned the strict "fast, hard, loud" rules of hardcore punk with their songs for Zen Arcade. Without turning down the volume, Hüsker Dü try everything -- pop songs, tape experiments, acoustic songs, pianos, noisy psychedelia. Hüsker Dü willed themselves to make such a sprawling record -- as the liner notes state, the album was recorded and mixed within 85 hours and consists almost entirely of first takes. That reckless, ridiculously single-minded approach does result in some weak moments -- the sound is thin and the instrumentals drag on a bit too long -- but it's also the key to the success of Zen Arcade. Hüsker Dü sound phenomenally strong and possessed, as if they could do anything. The sonic experimentation is bolstered by Mould and Hart's increased sense of songcraft. Neither writer is afraid to let his pop influences show on Zen Arcade, which gives the songs -- from the unrestrained rage of "Something I Learned Today" and the bitter, acoustic "Never Talking to You Again" to the eerie "Pink Turns to Blue" and anthemic "Turn On the News" -- their weight. It's music that is informed by hardcore punk and indie rock ideals without being limited by them.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 10/17/1990
  • Label: Sst Records
  • UPC: 018861002712
  • Catalog Number: 27
  • Sales rank: 45,283

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Hüsker Dü Primary Artist
Grant Hart Percussion, Piano, Drums, Vocals, Background Vocals
Bob Mould Acoustic Guitar, Bass, Percussion, Piano, Electric Guitar, Vocals, Background Vocals
Greg Norton Bass, Background Vocals
Technical Credits
Grant Hart Composer
Hüsker Dü Audio Production
Bob Mould Composer
Spot Audio Production
Greg Norton Composer
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 3 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 29, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A Yen For Zen

    If anyone thinks Green Day's "American Idiot" is a great punk operetta, they ought to listen to "Zen Arcade" by Husker Du. Made in 1983, this was the work of a Minneapolis power trio consisting of guitarist Bob Mould, drummer Grant Hart and bassist Greg Norton. A two-record set, this furiously-paced concept album is about one alienated teenager's journey through Reagan's America. Along the way, he encounters lots of anger ("Never Talking To You Again"), insanity ("What's Going On?"), loneliness ("Standing By The Sea"), suicide ("Pink Turns To Blue") and even the decline of American factories ("The Newest Industry"). There are many impressive things about this album. Chief among them: all but two of the songs were recorded in a single take. The album took a blazing 85 hours to record and another 40 to mix down. And then, of course, there's "Reoccuring Dreams", a 14-minute guitar instrumental workout that owes more to John Coltrane's freestyle soloing than anything else. For a band that started out playing Pere Ubu covers, they truly came a long way with this underground classic about a 1980's teenage wasteland.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    This Is Such A Great Album...And By A non-Commercialed Band Also

    Husker Du, one of the greatest bands to ever step in a studio, and also, one of the least known bands ever. There music is great and will attract a variety of fans, indie, punk, alternative and much more. Husker Du is such a great band. Actually theyre my third favorite band. (1st is The Germs, And second is Adolescents/X) SO any of you people, wheather, a punk, a fan of indie or a alternative head...this is a great buy.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Zen Arcade: Only one of three albums I have promoted to legendary status.

    If you had even a semblance of punk in you during the 80s, this title may be familiar. It stands as the breakthrough for hardcore (noise/obnoxious to energetic/purposeful). It holds its own today, though younger listeners may find it rougher than grunge and alternative standards allow. Follow-up with New Day Rising and you'll have the best the Huskers ever unleashed. You'll also be listening to the beginning of punk's mainstreaming that culminated with Nirvana's destruction of Metal. Unfortunately, alternative rock today is an oxymoron, it is pop, not anti-pop. In beating the competition, the punk-to-alternative continuum absorbed the worst traits of pop and metal. There is a consolation, but it may require you to change your thinking a bit. Try swithching off Stone Temple Pilots, Korn, and Third Eye Blind. Switch to alternative country, e.g. Whiskeytown, Son Volt, Scott Thomas Band, etc. It may not be easy to do, but if you invest the time you'll find the descendants of Husker Du and the spirit of Zen Arcade thriving. It is time for a new front; these alt. country bands are challenging corporate Nashville in the same way punk challenged top 40 popular music/rock.

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