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WTF? Robert Palmer covers Hüsker Dü then Sonic Youth covers Robert Palmer
02:08 pm


Sonic Youth
Hüsker Dü
Robert Palmer

Robert Palmer, two-time Grammy Award-winning love addict caller-outer, can be heard briefly and inexplicably covering Hüsker Dü’s “New Day Rising” in the odd piece of Internet ephemera below. It goes by kind of quickly, and by midway through the clip Palmer’s band has morphed the tune into something else entirely, but it’s worth a listen if only because it’s so weird.

After giving myself a quick refresher course on Palmer’s career, because, frankly, I never really paid much attention to it, I could find no mention of any connection whatsoever between the two seemingly polar opposite musical endeavors.

If the guy who posted this thing is to be believed, it’s from a Palmer performance at San Diego State University in the spring of 1987.  Keep in mind that Hüsker Dü’s “New Day Rising” shows up brutally and gloriously kicking ass as the first track on the absolutely indispensable post-punk album of the same name released in January of 1985, the exact year that Palmer would release Riptide featuring the unfortunate classic, “Addicted to Love.” 

So I got to thinking.  Maybe Palmer’s next record, you know, the one he released after Riptide (whatever that was called)? Maybe that record would show a little change in Robert’s musical trajectory.  I knew it was unlikely, but, hell, if he was listening to Hüsker Dü, perhaps Palmer went a little punk? There was only one way to find out.

I was even willing to overlook the fact that “Simply Irresistible” showed up on the next release, Heavy Nova, in 1988.  Hey, everybody’s gotta sell records, right?  But, alas, any thought I might have entertained about Palmer veering even ever-so-slightly towards a more raw recorded sound quickly vanished. Heavy Nova is more terrible than I could have possibly imagined.  It’s just a bunch of islandy-sounding tunes with awful, smooth-jazz influenced bass lines flatulently slappity-slapping all over the place.  Shudder. 

There is proof, however, that at least one legendary noise band was listening to Robert Palmer at the time, as my wife reminded me while I was writing this piece.  Do yourself a favor and check out Kim Gordon performing a karaoke version of “Addicted to Love,” a track that appears on 1988’s The Whitey Album. The record was the result of a Material Girl-themed side project in which Sonic Youth became Ciccone Youth (referencing Madonna’s maiden name), threw in punk bass pioneer Mike Watt for a tune and then became Sonic Youth again. In the video, Gordon dances with a guitar in front of war footage while moaning off-key, droning snarls giving Palmer’s hit a sinister twist.

Posted by Jason Schafer | Leave a comment
Terrific documentary on punk rock: Watch it now

Far better than average documentary on punk rock and the punk/reggae connection. Researched and written by the very fine rock journalist Robert Palmer (r.i.p.), this is smart and comprehensive. Broadcast on PBS in 1995 and currently unavailable on video or DVD. Enjoy.


Parts 3 - 6 after the jump…

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment