Recorded at various venues (though mostly at Le Spectrum in Montreal, Canada) in October 1987. Produced by Hüsker Dü and Lou Giordano. Liner notes written by rock critic David Fricke. Released 1994 on Warner Bros. Records.
In early 1995 I wandered into Our Price Records in Kilburn, north London, and stepped out about half an hour later clutching a copy of Sugar—File under easy listening (1994) which began my love of Bob Mould’s work. I came to listen to Hüsker Dü after both Sugar and Mould’s early solo work.
Workbook (1989) remains one of my favourite albums of his. I loved it so much and thought that my younger brother would too that I famously bought him a copy for his birthday. He HATED it. Much to my dismay and surprise. I inherited his copy years later when he finally considered that enough time had elapsed that I wouldn’t think it rude. In truth he could have given it away on the day of his birthday, I wouldn’t have thought him rude… just, well, wrong.
It was when I later moved into a flat in London with my friend and then-colleague Graham Fairbairn that he introduced me to Hüsker Dü, and their last-but-one album Candy Apple Grey (1986) in particular, and so the circle was complete. The third leg of my Mouldy stool, if you like.
This album The living end (1994) was released in 1994, six years after Hüsker Dü broke up. Allegedly Bob Mould himself has never listened to the album.
Although the songs on the album cover the whole of the band’s nine year history this isn’t an album that I would introduce people to Hüsker Dü listening to: it’s not the best live album; it’s not the best showcase for the band. Although maybe I just don’t know their back catalogue well enough—I would accept that.
Production and clarity aside, what this album does have going for it is energy and, of course, the songs. Hüsker Dü were very punk/hardcore-influenced and it shows, with echoes of bands like the Ramones in there. I remember reading years ago in Guitar World magazine that Mould’s use of minor 7th and minor 9th chords helped define that whole melodic hardcore genre.
I’ve probably already said elsewhere on this blog that I’m not a huge fan of live albums: for me, they don’t really capture either the purity of the music or the live vibe. That said, this is a decent enough album and I find myself having to balance between my enormous admiration for Bob Mould with the fact that it’s a live album of songs spanning the band’s career. And then do I score it against the other albums in this project, or against Bob Mould’s back catalogue.
Review score: 80%