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4 September 2017

Hüsker Dü - 'Metal Circus' (SST)

My copy of this classic has a really bad warp, the kind that sends the stylus flying with each of the 45 rotations per minute. It's so bad that it renders the first song on each side unplayable - in fact, unstartable, as the constant pushback of the skip means it can never get into the opening groove for tracking. So 'my' Metal Circus begins with 'Deadly Skies', and an already short EP becomes a bit unsatisfying when two songs shorter. Serves me right for buying this so eagerly at a weird cheap punk shop in Copenhagen - we should always inspect the vinyl, right? 'Deadly Skies' is a fucking great song though, where the lead guitar lines and Bob Mould's voice work perfectly together. I never thought of the title of this record in terms of 'heavy metal' as this sounds properly like early mid-period Dü, but there is a way that lead guitar/voice combo sounds like a banshee screaming, plus the shredding on 'Out on a Limb' has a few pinch harmonics inside. Grant Hart bats 1.000 here, with 'It's Not Funny Anymore' and 'Diane' being two of his greatest songs. The latter of these may actually objectively terrible, if music could be objectively anything, but I love it; it's creepy, built around a simple, plodding rhythm, and with a strange violence that definitively ties this to the earlier, more adolescent period of the band. The drumming throughout this record is mixed really high, and something feels really imprecise about it; I don't think Hüsker Dü would ever again sound (at least on record) like a bunch of midwestern freaks jamming in a garage, and that's another reason to love this. Minus two songs, it's a shame, really just like a good 7". It's almost hard to believe that Zen Arcade was about to follow, but that's also part of the charm of this.

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