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30 Best Loved Albums - Land Speed Record

2007 will bring the 30th anniversary of my first rock concert (Kiss, December 2, 1977 – Metropolitan Sports Center). In honor of that momentous event I have decided to use this blog to review my 30 best loved albums. They will not be in any order or progression but I will try to review them musically and why they mean so much to me. I’ll also note if they made the Definitive 200 List.

Although I have stated that I’m not going to rank or place in order my favorite 30 albums, there is somewhat of a method to my madness. The first five albums were near and dear to me, some may not necessarily be an all-time favorite, but instead are albums about which that I had a lot to say. Albums 6-10 included artists with long and critically acclaimed careers with many, many different albums from which to choose. Albums 11-15 were more related to “roots? music: folk, country, americana, etc. Now that we’re halfway through, I thought we needed to look at my favorite punk and alternative albums. In the immortal words of Neil Young: “Let’s play some Rock and Roll!?

16. Husker Du – Land Speed Record (1981)

This is the punk album to end all punk albums. The album careens from one blistering 90 second song to the next with 17 songs covering a 26-1/2 minute time span. Land Speed Record is actually a live album and it captures an early Husker Du at its furiously fast best. Although the name comes from the fact that the Huskers were digesting a serious amount of speed while the album was recorded, the title also easily describes the set list as most songs are one verse, no chorus played extremely fast punctuated only be a simple 1…2…1234 between each song.

The album cover is pure early 80’s punk: Black and white photo of flag-draped coffins stacked on top of each other either in a warehouse or large transport plane. While the songs at time are political the main point is that they are loud, fast, with no rules. The sound quality isn’t the greatest and the lyrics can be maddening at times but you’re not listening to this album for its production values. The purpose of this album is to feel the rush of an adrenaline-fueled musical assault where you don’t know whether or not the singer is going to have an aneurism or if the guitars are going to careen out of control.

One reason I love this album is it brings me back to the days of seeing the Huskers at the 7th Street Entry or First Avenue. The music was loud, the slam dancing was non-stop and many a morning after seeing them my ears would buzz from the volume, my head would throb from the beer, and the rest of my body would hurt from being slammed into by other 20-somethings for 90 minutes. Also I used this album to turn one of my friend's teenage son into punk. It was around 1995 and we were in my car waiting for his dad. We started talking about Nirvana and I asked him if he ever heard Husker Du. I put this tape on and he was mesmerized. He took the tape home with him and said that the album changed his life.

Although you don’t necessarily listen to this song for the lyrics, there are some pretty funny and/or serious lyrics here. One of my favorites is Gilligan’s Island:

Gilligan’s Island
Is where I wanna be
I wanna fuck Ginger
Underneath a big palm tree
I wanna make the professor
Make some good drugs for me
Oh Gilligan's Island
Is where I wanna be

But the lyrics can be political too, check this out from Guns at My School:

We've got guns at my school
You've got guns at your school
Guns and knives/taking lives
Fuck you!

Every time it's a different story
When they come to our territory
Is it fun or race relations?

Guns at my school
Think that's cool?
You like violence?
Think it makes sense?
(Fuck, no).

Even though I’m closing in on my mid-40’s, I still play this album when I need a rise. It’s fast, it’s fun, but most of all it’s exhilarating. And for that Land Speed Record deserves a spot on my most beloved 30 albums.

Place on the Definitive 200: Not on the list.

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