in CAT

Hüsker Dü – Flip Your Wig (1985)

I’m just gonna guess that we’re not doing Whovember for another week or two, so I’ll just go ahead and return to our year-by-year CAT’s for at least this week.  I pretty much knew I had to do a Husker Du album for 1985 since they managed to put out two unbelievable albums that year with New Day Rising and Flip Your Wig.  Really I could’ve gone with either album, but since Flip Your Wig doesn’t usually get quite as much attention I’m going with that one, as you probably already figured out.

So the story of Husker Du is one that is pretty similar to that of their Minnesota brethren, The Replacements.  The Huskers started off as an earsplitting hardcore punk band, but with 1984’s Zen Arcade, they started to incorporate melody more and more into their loud, fast, and uncompromising sound.  New Day Rising saw songwriters Grant Hart and Bob Mould delving even deeper into more melodic songs, and Flip Your Wig sees the band sounding even more like a pop group while still maintaining that punk rock edge.

It’s almost kind of shocking to hear how ahead of their time Husker Du sound on this album.  With their signature brand of ragged vocals and fuzz-drenched guitars enveloping these pop songs, they completely sound like the kinds of alternative rock bands that would come to dominate the early to mid-’90s.  Songs like “Makes No Sense At All” and “Flexible Flyer” have that great hazy guitar sound, and for the first time you can actually understand most of the lyrics on the album. So in many ways Flip Your Wig is probably the most accessable album in the Husker’s discography.  Of course, this interest in more accessable material simply wasn’t enough to lift Husker Du out of indie rock’s underground despite signing to a major label after Flip Your Wig.  Instead, the music world would have to wait a few more years for three dudes from Aberdeen to finally bring this kind of music onto the national stage.

Favorite Tracks: “Makes No Sense At All”, “Divide And Conquer”, “Flexible Flyer”