New vü on Hüsker Dü

The first of two books on the tumultuous trio lacks teeth but shouts its praises.

“Hüsker Dü: The Story of the Noise-Pop Pioneers Who Launched Modern Rock,” by Andrew Earles

If you file it alongside everything else you can buy in a store with the band's fractured logo on it, the new book on the world's most contentious rock trio is the first new Hüsker Dü product since the live album "The Living End" came out in 1994. Amazing, really. Sad, definitely.

From that perspective, it's easy to get excited about "Hüsker Dü: The Story of the Noise-Pop Pioneers Who Launched Modern Rock," which lands this week from Voyageur Press, the same publisher behind Jim Walsh's Replacements oral history, "All Over But the Shouting."

Maybe because most Twin Cities writers know better than to get between Grant Hart and Bob Mould, the Hüskers book was authored by a Memphis-based freelancer and humorist, Andrew Earles. He predictably finds very little humor here. This is the first compendium on the band aside from its chapter in Michael Azerrad's 2001 indie-rock bible "Our Band Could Be Your Life," which Earles seems weirdly fixated on discrediting -- eventually coming off as sour as some of the gripes the band members have with each other.

With invaluable input from local vets Terry Katzman, Chris Osgood and Hüskers bassist Greg Norton, Earles does a terrific job painting the Twin Cities scene of the late '70s and early '80s. As the author points out, most scenesters were less than receptive to the scrappy-looking, noisemaking trio from (gasp!) St. Paul. Which is why Hart, Mould and Norton started their own label, hit the road and became DIY trailblazers when most bands didn't even know where to buy a van.

Earles' non-local residency status proves unimportant, but there are shortcomings among the 288 pages. He announces in the introduction that his book will address neither the band's drug use nor the fact that two of its three members are gay. (Avoiding the latter issue seems unfathomable, especially for a book with "pioneers" in the title.) There's also little detail on the band's legal issues with SST Records and the total lack of any best-ofs, reissues, etc. It just seems that Earles did not want to ask the hard questions.

The most glaring hole is that Earles could not ask any questions of Mould, who "politely" declined to participate. Mould instead spent most of the past year working on his autobiography with assistance from (guess who?) Azerrad, due to be published in June by Little, Brown & Co. Even when it comes to books, the Hüskers can't get on the same page. Hart and Norton do all the talking here.

Earlier this week, Mould said he has not read Earles' work, but he wished it well and emphasized that his tome will undoubtedly be different.

"Naturally, my book deals with that period, but it's only one facet of who I am, what I've done so far, and how I became the person I am today," he said, citing at least one specific contrast: "I've had major issues with my own sexuality over the years, and my book will shine a very bright light on that part of my life."

Even Mould should appreciate what Earles does best: make a case for Hüsker Dü's greatness. You can't read the book without wanting to pull out every one of the LPs and crank them. In fact, the most maddening thing in the end is the fact that the only new product Hüskers fans have to consume after 15 years of dormancy are books.

Like it's 1985

It appears to be Remember the '80s Month in the music scene, especially at First Ave, which is hosting the Suburbs with the Suicide Commandos on Friday and Saturday. The shows are virtual (and very welcome) repeats of the tribute to late 'Burbs guitarist Bruce Allen in February, with Beej Chaney in town and replacement guitarist Steve Brantseg in tow.

Next weekend, First Ave is hosting the second annual day-after-Thanksgiving benefit tribute to the Replacements. The "Tim" album will be played in its entirety with the singers from Motion City Soundtrack, Tapes 'n Tapes, Pink Mink, Romantica, Communist Daughter and more, while the Honeydogs, Story of the Sea, the Goondas and many more will play 'Mats mini-sets.

Meanwhile, a trio of lesser-known but not forgotten late-'80s bands are reuniting Saturday at Bunkers: Brutus, Billy Club and Black Julius. The latter, featuring Greazy Meal singer Julius Collins, was drummer Michael Bland's side project during his days with Prince's New Power Generation. Brutus alums include Erik Fratzke (Happy Apple) and Bob Joslyn (Run Westy Run), but this will be the original lineup. Mike Johnson of Brutus said, "The family tree that connects these three bands is very deep," so it made sense teaming up Saturday (8 p.m., $9).

Holiday windup

Now a standard attraction in early December, the New Standards have expanded their holiday show at the Fitzgerald Theater into a three-gig affair, including a Sunday matinee, Dec. 3-5. Peter Ostroushko is also putting on another "Heartland Holiday" concert at the Fitz on Dec. 10. ... Sounds of Blackness is also bringing back its "Night Before Christmas: A Musical Fantasy," Dec. 13 at the Guthrie Theater. ... Trailer Trash will kick off its usual run of "Trashy Little Xmas Shows" starting Nov. 27 at Lee's Liquor Lounge and continuing every Saturday through Christmas plus one Friday (Dec. 17). ... Roma di Luna will also reprise its holiday show, including a family matinee performance, Dec. 19 at the Cedar.

Random mix

Synth-heavy dance-rockers Military Special's gig Friday at 7th Street Entry has turned into a triple-whammy event: 1) It's a release party for the sextet's new "Rights EP;" 2) it marks the group's 100th live show, and 3) it will reportedly be their final show. Bassist James Shaff is moving to California, and frontman Joe Schweigert and some other members plan to move on to a more stripped-down band. Lucy Michelle & Co., Phantom Tails, Estate and Dada Trash Collage open (9 p.m., $6). ... Playing music almost as often as he writes nowadays, Jim Walsh smartly snagged Saturday's post-Suburbs/Commandos slot in the Entry for his full Mad Ripple band (10 p.m., $6). ...

Remember Brilliant Corners, the cool little corner jazz venue that opened and closed in the mid-'00s when downtown St. Paul had too little else cool about it? The club's co-founder, Jeremy Walker, is a player and composer himself and will be at the Dakota late Friday promoting "Pumpkins' Reunion," the debut album by his playful band the Small City Trio (11 p.m., $5). A medical condition forced Walker to give up the sax and he now plays elegant piano and sings a little, backed by bassist Jeff Brueske and drummer Tim Zhorne. ...

Expanded reissues of the Jayhawks' "Hollywood Town Hall" and "Tomorrow the Green Grass" won't arrive in time for holiday shopping, but they will land when there's not much else to do besides listen to music at home. Sony/Legacy has them scheduled Jan. 18. ...

Since their latest album is titled "Tell the Pilgrim It's a Potluck," you know the 757s had to play a Thanksgiving-related gig this year. The geographically splintered band remains active enough to be "an active annoyance for our families," bassist Paul Pirner said. They're playing their first show since summer Saturday at the 501 Club, a great lineup of clever, noisy garage-rock with the Goondas and Rank Strangers (10 p.m., free).

chrisr@startribune.com • 612-673-4658 • Follow him on Twitter: @ChrisRstrib

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