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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Grant Hart - Paradise Regained?, 24 July 2013
By 
Red on Black - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Argument (Audio CD)
Husker Du exploded out of the twin cities in the early 1980s and the world was never the same. In Bob Mould and Grant Hart the band contained the Lennon and McCartney of hardcore and like the Velvet Underground every one who came into contact with them formed another band. Sadly they imploded in the late eighties in a toxic mix of unresolvable creative and personal tensions between Mould and Hart. Tragically this period saw the bands manager David Savoy take his own life and Hart's various addictions expand. The rest is history and while Mould's solo career has been more high profile and successful it is good to see Hart back on top form. Many would argue he was the melodic core of Husker Du and the songs contained on this new double album "The Argument" do echo past glories.

There is a big concept behind Hart's new album which entails reference to William Burrough's take on Milton's "Paradise lost" and Adam and Eve's fall from Eden. Frankly for this reviewer concept albums tend to register very high on the irritation scale but to be fair to Hart whatever his intent on the records backdrop he has produced a lengthy album containing some glorious songs packed with melody some of which have a distinctively Bowie style flavour. The one that impacts immediately is "Morning Star" a wonderful piece of indie pop, commercial enough to be a single and demonstrating from the start that Hart is back on form. The electronica of "If we have the will" could have happily appeared on "Lodger" and its swirling organ backdrop is entrancing. A clear highlight is the song "I will never see my home" and regretful ballad where the limitations of Harts voice actually suit a very dark theme of portraying Satan as a lost figure cast away from his native home. There are lighter moments not least the best song Buddy Holly never wrote the pounding "Letting me out" and the very beautiful "Is the sky the limit" with its slow steady build up to a big finish. The album is a double with 20 tracks but on occasions some judicious editing would not gone amiss. "Awake arise" for example is the sort of dour track that all concept albums suffer from as their creators get far too involved with the source material . "Underneath the Apple-tree" is just plain daft with its 1920s tin pan alley feel and twee affectations. The jaunty "Shine, shine, shine" has also yet to impress. There are however enough goodies on offer here to counter the weaker moments. The urban blues of "So far from heaven" has a Beatles feel to it circa Abbey Road, while Dylan influences populate the excellent closer "For those too high aspiring".

"The Argument" is an ambitious and often theatrical album which sees its creator literally pouring his heart into its construction. It is a fascinating and largely well executed album that should lead music critics to adjust the scales between him and Bob Mould, properly recognising that Hart wasn't a mere second string. As Hart himself recently commented "people seem to think they can't like me and like Bob's music...they have that there was this bad guy in Bob's past who was vanquished by Bob like a dragon". It is clear from "the Argument" that this particular dragon still breathes fire.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An unexpected delight, 28 July 2013
By 
Jules (Worcestershire, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Argument (Audio CD)
I must admit that I bought this CD, like the last couple of Grant Hart albums, more out of a sense of duty than an expectation of actually enjoying the contents - in spite of the mainly positive reviews. I was a little daunted by the album's concept - it is inspired by John Milton's 'Paradise Lost' and William Burroughs's 'Lost Paradise' - but, to my delight, I have found this lengthy CD a joy to listen to from beginning to end. To me, it is Grant Hart's best work since his excellent solo debut, 'Intolerance'.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lost Paradise, 7 Aug. 2013
By 
Syriat - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Argument (Audio CD)
I am going to digress....In the US Sitcom How I Met Your Mother there is an episode where two of the characters deal with the consequences of their break-up. It's explained to Ted that someone always wins in a break-up, at first he laughs it off but then it becomes obvious he is losing this break-up. Whilst this might be true of relationships it is very true in bands. When a band breaks up there are usually winners and losers and when two of the members of that band (Husker Du in this instance) are equal songwriting partners then that becomes a bit more of an issue. Bob Mould has won that break-up. Both had celebrated solo albums (Intolerance Vs Workbook - take your pick), both have had bands (the underrated Nova Mob Vs Sugar). But add to that Mould's recent biography he not only has won this break-up but also managed to write (or rewrite?) the whole story. Add to this the death of Grant Harts parents you would expect this to be a bleak affair, after all he did write the harrowing No Promise Have I Made. And then you learn its double album based on an unreleased response to Paradise Lost by William S Borroughs the portents don't give you much cause for optimism. But fear not...Hart is back on form, its not all dark and harrowing and whilst its probably a little overlong and the styles are all over the place (retro 20's numbers to Bowie sounding apocalypse tracks) it is a good album.

As a piece it takes time to hit its stride (the rather good Morningstar excpeted). For the first part of the album he is channeling David Bowie in his vocal delivery, something I haven't noticed before. I am Death lives up to its name and is a dark number with a drum and guitar propulsion under a spoken word delivery. Is The Sky The Limit? is a track that could have been on a Husker Du album, its a slow number with eastern sounding horns underneath. Letting Me Out is a modern update on Buddy Holly's Peggy Sue in the way it sounds...actually its not that much updated really. It Was A Most Disturbing Dream sounds like a 70's band being crossed with Hart's normal delivery. With 20 songs here it has the ability to deliver differently each time. It also has the ability to be a little patchy at times and its eclectic approach means that it isn't always quite a strong as it could be. Having said that its a very solid offering and a welcome one from Hart.

The Argument is a good album and whilst its not the most consistent its very good. It also proves that both Mould and Hart have come out of the break up and are equally capable of delivering good albums. Nova Mob were not Sugar, but they were very good. Hart's solo albums stacks up well against Mould's and this effort further rebalances the argument (sorry). It is possible to like both. This album proves that and lets hope Hart is a little more prolific and see the success his talent deserves.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A genuine underated brilliant songwriter., 26 Sept. 2013
This review is from: The Argument (Audio CD)
I'm a big fan of Hart and his previous work with Nova Mob and of course the majestic Huskers.So I was intrigued by the premise of the record as i felt the last couple of his records were a bit under par.Hart is a true artist a man who has drenched his soul in life experience both good and bad and he sings of it in his music. This record is about good and evil coming to the world and the story of the devils appearence in ancient fables. There are some fantastic songs here, pure pop pleasures that are instantly enjoyable.There are others that slowly reveal themselves as equally brilliant.For me a couple of songs struggle a little bit but as they often describe a dark passage from the book (lost paradise - William Buroughs) its understandable that they are chaotic, dark or over dramatic.
He sounds a little like Bowie on a few songs and it made me think that if Bowie had made this album he would of sold it by the million and received rave reviews. All in all a great effort from a quiet, inteligent punk legend.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 2 Oct. 2014
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This review is from: The Argument (Audio CD)
wonderful
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