My Name Is … Pliny

“And these are observations I have made.”

As a kind of follow-up to my review of the Andrew Earles’s Hüsker Dü book here’s a little update on Grant Hart.

After the release of new LP ‘Hot Wax’ at the tail end of 2009, Hart has plundered his back catalogue for two reissues, both with their own merits.

First off is the long awaited re-issue of the Nova Mob debut LP ‘The Last Days of Pompeii’. Back in January 2007 in the very early days of the blog I did a retrospective on Grant and wrote the following about the ‘Pompeii’ LP:

“Not everyone will agree but I’m prepared to argue that LDP is musically Grant’s strongest set since 1988. The lyrics (about Nazi scientists escaping from the fall of the Third Reich back in time to, well, have a guess) are certainly on the preposterous side. But sonically it’s a rewarding record with Tom Merkl’s inventive bass helping distinguish it from the crowd.”

Which is all you need to know other than it features a lot of classic Hart tunes. The record seems to be under-rated in certain quarters, perhaps because it was only available for a short time due to the collapse of Rough Trade. But its reputation is undeserved and is absolutely in the top 3 post Hüskers’ releases by either Bob or Grant. At least IMHO.

The reissue on Cond’or came out early this year. It’s not the original LP but a remixed version and the remixes are most noticeable on the likes of ‘Admiral of The Sea (79 AD) version’. Otherwise it’s a pretty fine rendering of the record. Play often and play loud.

There are also half a dozen bonus tracks – 5 demos and a rough mix of the title track. The most interesting of the lot is a funky intro with Merkl’s bass almost the lead. The songs from the LP though sound a little more retro than they eventually did on record and the rough mix of the title track is close to pointless.

The CD doesn’t appear to be available in the UK but CD-WOW! do have reasonably priced copies at time of writing. Alternatively download it here.

Also out on Hazlewood at the tail end of 2010 was the rarities compilation ‘Oeuvrevue’. The set draws from both the Nova Mob back catalogue and Grant’s solo releases including a number of E.P. tracks. But it’s not a comprehensive retrospective and the most obvious omission is the original ‘2541’ E.P. (odd since there is SST released material on here). As compensation though both sides of the rare ‘Evergreen Memorial Drive’ single are included.

Perhaps surprisingly the ‘Shoot’ E.P. is represented given that Grant was always critical of its release. One of the best things on the CD though is a brilliant Nova Mob version of the Hüskers’ ‘No Promise Have I Made’.

Full details of the tracks on ‘Oeuvrevue’ are here on Paul Hilcoff’s superb Hüsker Dü resource.

Although it was supposedly issued only in a limited edition in support of his European tour last year, you can get copies of the CD from Amazon here and it’s also available for download.

Finally, Grant is apparently working on a version of John Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’ – expect it sometime before 2025!

Here’s a couple of Nova Mob performances of songs which feature on ‘Oeuvrevue’:

Update: Approaching this from the angle of it being a collection of rarities is misleading. A lot of the versions on the CD are better than the originals, the material from the ‘Nova Mob’ LP in particular being more sparky than the LP versions. And initially it looked like I owned more of the tracks on here than I actually did – as some of the songs taken  from EPs are actually alternative (and often superior) versions. This is a cracking compilation which is well worth getting a hold of for Grant fans.

Advertisements

5 Comments

  1. madangel47 says:

    Love the re-master of “Last Days.” Think Grant did a brilliant job with it. “Space Jazz” absolutely sparkles, and it’s nice the way he’s brought out the piano part on the acoustic version of “Admiral of the Sea.”

    It’s nice to hear all the alternative versions of various songs on both “Last Days” and “Oeuvrevue.”

    Grant has been playing a couple of songs from “Paradise Lost” in concert, one of which is “What’s a Little Angel Doing So Far from Heaven?” The other, which I’ve only had the extreme pleasure of hearing ONCE, is called “Awake, Arise.” I’m very eager to hear the work in its entirety, but these things cannot be rushed, especially a “magnum opus” like I think this one is going to be.

    Me, I have been studying “Paradise Lost” so I’ll be ready for the release. And I seriously don’t think we’ll have to wait until 2025. He has been hard at work on it, and I, for one, believe it will be worth the wait, just as a fine single-malt is worth the wait.

    Grant will soon be in Ireland and england for some dates. Check the tour schedule at http://www.granthart.com to see the dates, and do get to a show if you can!

    Regards,
    madangel47
    mega-fan of Mr. Hart for 21 years and counting…

  2. Hi madangel47. Thanks for being the first person ever to actually like one of my posts!

    It’s interesting, it was only listening to ‘Last Days’ in the car (probably the third play) but I started noticing more and more differences between the vinyl and CD mixes. So it will undoubtedly be getting some more plays in the comings days.

    Disappointed though to hear that ‘Masters of War’ from ‘Oeuvrevue’ seems to be a rip from vinyl given all the crackling going on in the background. ‘Evergreen …’ sounds OK though, I think.

    Would love to see Grant again – I’ve only ever seen him perform once by coincidence with Nova Mob prior to the release of ‘Last Days’. When they basically played the album. Unfortunately there are no Scottish dates and I just can’t get down to London that weekend.

  3. madangel47 says:

    Hiya.

    Well, if there’s an opportunity to “like” a post that has something nice to say about Grant’s work, then I’m liking. 🙂

    Now I’m curious about the vinyl mix of “Last Days,” as I only have the CD version. Think I’ll have to get it and run it through the ol’ USB turntable and into the mp3 player for a closer listen.

    I never noticed the crackling on “Masters of War,” even though I listen mostly through headphones. I had never heard the song and was surprised to discover that I knew the TUNE as a trad folk number called “Nottamun Town.”

    I was very fortunate to get to see Grant play three times in 2010. I had been waiting twenty years. Not that he didn’t come ’round before that, but I was younger, raising kids, and doing my own singing gigs. Hard to get out and see anyone with all that going on, plus there was no internet, and I only found out about concerts of any kind by chance, usually after the fact.

    Pity you can’t make it to any of the England/Ireland shows, but I bet he’ll come ’round again when “Paradise Lost” is ready. Keep checking his website for updates, and check You Tube for videos. There are some nice ones.

    Cheers!

    Paula Warner
    (aka madangel47)

  4. That Dylan chap never had an original tune in his head, did he? 😉

    But on the first couple of listen I did think that the remix was only minor. But you know how it is with LPs that you’ve listened to lots over the years – you remember so much detail. Well, for example was there not more prominent piano or something on the noisier ‘Admiral of the Sea’? Just lots of wee details seem to be different on the CD such as the guitar on ‘Wernher Von Braun’ which just sounds … dirtier.

    I’m rather worried that I’ve used up all my memory capacity remembering details of songs such that I can’t remember anything useful these days!

    As for Grant gigs, I don’t think he’s played Scotland since 1990. I’m always hoping though.

Comments are closed.