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Zen Arcade

4.6 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

Price: £15.18 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £20. Details
Includes FREE MP3 version of this album.
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Product details

  • Audio CD (19 Mar. 2013)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Proper W/S
  • ASIN: B000000LZS
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Audio Cassette  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 55,624 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Product Description

Amazon.co.uk

Even when this Minneapolis trio dabbled in familiar sounds, such as the strummed folk of "Never Talking to You Again" or the Bo Diddley-style R&B of "Hare Krsna", what came out on this swirling 1984 double album was clenched, emotional and intense. Over 23 short songs that helped define the still-thriving punk sub-genre known as hardcore, leaders Grant Hart and Bob Mould screamed their alienation in the fastest language they could possibly produce. Though Mould is the more personal songwriter, lashing out at liars and (presumably) lovers, both Hüsker heads come up with psycho-depression choruses like "What's going on inside my head?" --Steve Knopper

BBC Review

This Minneapolis-based three-piece band named themselves after a Danish board game and were one of the leading American alternative rock groups of the mid-1980s. They were driven by Grant Hart’s hyperactive drum stutter and the twin vocal/song writing attack of Hart and guitar distorter par excellence Bob Mould – a partnership that would eventually unravel by 1988. Even in 1984, when this 70-minute double album was released, the sound of two rather different artistic visions was emerging. Mould’s angrily roared, manic songs dominate the set, contrasting with the Hart’s more poppy and conventional output.

Zen Arcade is widely considered one of their most seminal albums, although its length and almost relentlessly scorched-earth sound make listening to it all at once a slightly daunting prospect. The sleeve notes proudly declare that ‘everything on the record is first take’ except for two songs, and that there were only two out-takes, but like almost every double album that’s ever been made, this one could have done with harsher pruning.

That said, there are plenty of gems among its 23 tracks. It’s ostensibly a concept album about a teenager leaving home, having rejected his parents or been rejected by them. Even so, there’s room for the occasional flash of black humour in the lyrics, faithfully reproduced in the CD booklet. "Never Talking To You Again" is a rare acoustic interlude and despite their general preference for short, hard, fast songs, the band’s unwillingness to be pigeon-holed is apparent in a surprising diversity influences on show, from The Buzzcocks ("The Biggest Lie") to Chuck Berry ("Hare Krishna"), with the occasional poodle rock dalliance ("Indecision Time" and "Masochism World") and hints of psychedelia in several sequences of backwards music. Most notable of these is the instrumental "Dreams Reoccurring", an excerpt from the ferociously inventive 14-minute closer "Reoccurring Dreams".

At times the lo-fi production values make you yearn for some of Hüsker Dü’s later, more ear-friendly material (the subsequent New Day Rising album is an accessible starting point) or the comparatively lush melodicism of Mould’s 1990s band Sugar. There’s no such tooth-rot here. --Jon Lusk

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Husker Du were always changing, in the space of a few years they had moved from the epic-minimalism of 'Statues' to the agony of 'Diane' to the frantic 'In a Free Land' to this concept double-album (!) Imagine a US punk take of 'Quadrophenia'- the next step on from Townshend.
'Something I Learned Today' & 'Broken Home, Broken Heart' sit up there with The Replacements 'Unsatisfied'. The influence on Nirvana is apparent; comedy corporate punk bands like Blink 182, Green Day & Sum 141 sound so false next to this...
Grant Hart goes all Richard Thompson for the gorgeous acoustic track 'Never Talking to You Again'. Then Mould takes us to pop-punk heaven with 'Chartered Trips', moving towards the sound of 'New Day Rising'...'Dreams Reoccuring' is a brief instrumental, sounding like the kind of semi-backwards b-side the Stone Roses got acclaimed for five years later...'Indecision Time' is a violent thrash that could have been played by Black Flag; this moves into 'Hare Krsna'- a bizarre jazz-inflected instrumental- whose repetition beats the hell out of Slint & all the other post-rockers!...'Beyond the Threshold' & 'Pride' are more speedy teenangst cuts; the difference is, the Du meant it. This wasn't radio friendly revolution for heavy rotation...'I'll Never Forget You' is an epic punk track, which while being oxymoronic is the only way to describe it. 'The Biggest Lie' was ripped off by Slaughterhouse for the soundtrack to 'Wild at Heart'. This is almost metal, until Hart's drums veer the song off down mania avenue; the sounds Mould gets out of his guitar!...'What's Going On' is next, the band all singing as one; this one was ripped off for the Punpkins '1979'.
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By A Customer on 26 Sept. 2000
Format: Audio CD
For all those people who have heard that Bob Mould and Grant Hart had a history, this album will let them know in no uncertain terms what that history comprised of. As with all Husker Du albums, it is possible to hear the various complexities that each of the aforementioned talents liked to explore, but nowhere is it more finely shown than on this album. From the punk sounds of "Broken Home, Broken Heart" and "Newest Industry" that were the trademark sound of Husker Du, to "Never Talking To You Again" that was to light the way for Grant Hart's work with Nova Mob, and on to "Turn On The News" & "Somewhere" which portend Bob Mould's solo work and subsequent work with Sugar. For a true insight into some of the music emerging from the American punk scene of the Eighties, your record collection should not be without this (almost!) groundbreaking album.
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Format: Audio CD
Of the many fantastic American indie guitar albums released in 1984, Husker Du's "Zen Arcade" is arguably the best. All the more remarkable when you consider that it was made on less than a shoestring, much of it recorded live, despite the backdrop of political pro U.S.A. Reaganism sloganeering in the media and British "second invasion" twaddle dominating the U.S charts at the time. Husker Du created music which reached out to a polarised underground U.S. punk community and more importantly helped give it a voice.

If you have never heard this record before then you will be surprised how musicaly diverse it is. First of all it's a concept double album based loosely around the story of a young runnaway escaping a broken home into a world of drugs and violence. The 23 songs range from melodic hardcore ("Pride", "I will Never Forget You"), bizarre instramentals ("Tooth Fairy", "Reocurring Dreams") acoustic folk ("Never Talking To You Again"), indie pop ("Pink Turns To Blue", "Somewhere") and progressive rock wig-outs ("Turn On The News", "What's Going On").

Furthermore it has huge ambition, bursting with ideas whilst nodding approval and inspiration from sprawling Sixties art/pop classics like The Who's "Quadrophenia" and the Beatles "White album". If I have to point out a downside it would be that the record has a rather thin sound due to poor production and some songs seem restricted by the apparent speed of recording. Mould's guitar still sounds awesome though and the bands songwriting is really top notch. "Zen Arcade" is a great record and well worth investigating if you love guitar bands/punk/indie.
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By A Customer on 12 April 2002
Format: Audio CD
Excellent double-album comprising some of the finest songs of the era. Grant Hart and Bob Mould were two of the finest song writers working in Rock music at the time. Buy it, if only to remember that Indie music and Punk used to mean something.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Where do I start? This originally double album is a treasury of Eighties proto-grunge. The band were proud that most tracks were recorded in one take. This makes for a mostly energetic and vibrant sound; none of your slick big production jobs here, and this in the era of Duran Duran and Peter Gabriel. The decision to include all the tracks in one release shows some lack of discipline, but this is in line with the punk ethos of the recording. Those who know Mould's subsequent work with Sugar, and solo, will know that he has changed his position somewhat on production values. Zen Arcade is a chance to hear where the later sounds evolved from. A must for fans of Sonic Youth, Nirvana or the Pixies. What are you waiting for?
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