“Go buy everything from 1984 out of Minneapolis" -- Tommy Stinson
July 14, 2014 11:59 AM   Subscribe

Prince's Purple Rain (previously) celebrating its thirtieth (!!!) anniversary, but the skinny MFer with the high voice wasn't the only great thing coming out of the Twin Cities in the mid-1980s. Bob Mould of Husker Du, Babes in Toyland's Lori Barbero, singer-songwriter Craig Finn, Tommy Stinson of The Replacements, and up-and-coming MC Lizzo take a look back in Noisey's documentary Made in Minnesota.

Meanwhile, documentarian/polymath Gorman Bechard's documentary about Grant Hart, Every Everything, is coming soon to a film festival near you.
posted by pxe2000 (31 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
Zen Arcade also turned 30 this year. Christ I feel old.
posted by porn in the woods at 12:15 PM on July 14, 2014 [7 favorites]

Well obviously it wasn't the ONLY thing coming out of Minnesota in the mid-80's. But Purple Rain was the artist (no pun intended) at his artistic apex. He's been a lot of peaks and valleys since then, with occasional flashes of the pure brilliance that was Purple Rain. But never a whole show, release, etc that moment for moment matches everything on Purple Rain. And remember, this was a LIVE album! Released as an album of new material, a motion picture soundtrack, and a live album all at once. There is a reason that Prince hogs all the spotlight for Minneapolis in 1984, and that's because he fucking OWNED it.
posted by mediocre at 12:26 PM on July 14, 2014 [3 favorites]

Yeah, it's pretty insane that in one year and from one state we got Purple Rain, Zen Arcade, and Let It Be.
posted by gwint at 12:33 PM on July 14, 2014 [5 favorites]

A few years ago I found a link to a download of one of the over-produced Husker albums minus the over production. Have never been able to find it again...
posted by LarryC at 12:36 PM on July 14, 2014

Specific shout-out to Soul Asylum. In the early 80s I don't think I saw a bad show (in L.A.) by a Minneapolis band.
posted by Room 641-A at 12:54 PM on July 14, 2014 [6 favorites]

Well obviously it wasn't the ONLY thing coming out of Minnesota in the mid-80's. [snip] There is a reason that Prince hogs all the spotlight for Minneapolis in 1984, and that's because he fucking OWNED it.
I apologize for thread-sitting, but I did want to respond to this. With all due respect to Prince, listening to his work is a little like watching Citizen Kane. Prince is a superhuman talent, and it can be a little overwhelming to hear his work and wrap your mind around what it took to write and record and perform songs in the way that he does. Hearing Let it Be and New Day Rising as a teenager (long removed from the Twin Cities' epoch) was more human-scaled and accessible, and those blew my mind in a different way than Purple Rain did.

Also, while Prince was at his creative high point in '84, he also had great support from a big record label who could help his music reach the widest possible audience. Both the Mats' and the Huskers' records came out on indies who were unprepared for their success -- if memory serves, the first pressing of Zen Arcade sold out quickly and wasn't re-pressed for another bunch of months, leaving the band to sign flyers at in-stores. So Prince "owned" 1984 not only on his otherworldly talent and hard work, but also because he had the right people to help him find his audience.
posted by pxe2000 at 12:55 PM on July 14, 2014 [4 favorites]

No love for the Cows?
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:59 PM on July 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

A few years ago I found a link to a download of one of the over-produced Husker albums minus the over production. Have never been able to find it again...
posted by LarryC

I'd argue that Candy Apple Grey's the only one that really suffers from overproduction, but I know that's a minority view.
posted by COBRA! at 1:04 PM on July 14, 2014

The Suburbs song "Rattle My Bones" [SLYT] also came out in 1984.
posted by wenestvedt at 1:22 PM on July 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

I watched this video last week and almost squealed from sheer joy when they went to where Northern Lights used to be. "My name's Bob," indeed.

My friends and I spent a lot of time flipping through albums there and at Cheapo Records (when it was still in the old Ski Chalet store (which had once been my grandpa's car repair garage, decades before), a mile down Snelling Ave, before it moved to the old Applebaum's grocery store across the street). (Also, yes, an onion, yes, in my belt.)
posted by wenestvedt at 1:27 PM on July 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

GenjiandProust: No love for the Cows?

Will this do?
posted by wenestvedt at 1:30 PM on July 14, 2014

Cunning stunt.
posted by gwint at 2:10 PM on July 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

I read that as "the skinny MeFite"
posted by Omnomnom at 2:28 PM on July 14, 2014 [4 favorites]

Me, too. I was like all "whoa." Prince is a mefite?! Why no meet-up with pancakes?! Oh, well.
posted by jadepearl at 2:34 PM on July 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

I love a shout out to MN, and the Mats were my team just like they were Finn's, and Prince was dropped by aliens into the snowbelt, but I watched that video, and no mention was made of First Avenue at all?

I hate to be all romantic/cynical at an age when I should know better about both, but I just got snookered into watching a Budweiser ad in some vain hope I'd see a song I knew back in the day.

And I remember when the Replacements made a music video for Bastards of Young that was a 3 minutes of black and white footage of a speaker with a plastic cup on it, middle finger to "phoney rock and roll" on tv
posted by C.A.S. at 2:37 PM on July 14, 2014 [3 favorites]

In the long history of rock, that was MN's moment. (Can't count Elston Gunn, he hadda leave to find fame.)

West of Michigan there wasn't much notable rock to be heard for the longest time. Apart from minor miracles like Fargo's Bobby Vee, 1963's Surfin Bird (Trashmen), Leo Kottke's amazing Armadillo. Like most places there was a (very) rockin' scene but too far from the coasts. It took MTV.

Low from Duluth (took 12 years to get on TV) has been a long-lasting exception.
posted by Twang at 3:06 PM on July 14, 2014

"Remember the Mary Tyler Moore Show? We used to do a version of that song." Really well handled, Bob.
posted by Lyme Drop at 3:06 PM on July 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

Since Craig Finn is underutilized in that Budweiser-sponsored thing, here's Lifter Puller on the "Stripper Wars" episode of the Jenny Jones Show in 1999.
posted by neroli at 3:52 PM on July 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

How does an act like that get on to a show like Jenny Jones?
posted by notyou at 4:52 PM on July 14, 2014

It used to be that it wasn't summer until I heard "Music for Boys" on someone's car speakers.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:53 PM on July 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Minneapolis? HA! I blew the lid off that hoax 15 years ago... yep, Minneapolis Doesn't Really Exist.
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:07 PM on July 14, 2014

for the past 20 years or so i've had jobs that have taken me all over the country. in reality that means i've seen a whole lot of record stores and lots of thrift stores. and while the Twin Cities excel in both, Minneapolis might be the only city i've ever been to where the record stores have a huge "Local Music' section. i credit that all to Prince (and maybe Morris Day a little bit).
posted by Conrad-Casserole at 7:12 PM on July 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Yes, Seymour, I saw Trip Shakespeare at the Cabooze, and also Soul Asylum at the same venue. For those wanting more obscure Minnesota music stuff, check out tcpunk.com. The message board has been less active as of late but there's great stories and photos in there.
posted by larrybob at 11:05 PM on July 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Seymour Zamboni : Dan Wilson and John Munson of Trip Shakespeare went on to form Semisonic.

WHAAAAAT? How did I not know that? None of my crummy cassette tapes said "Save this, these guys are going to make it big some day" on the case!

And larrybob, that tcpunks.com message board links to this amaaazing page of pictures of the Cities in the Seventies.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:10 AM on July 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Also Dan Wilson of Trip Shakespeare co-wrote Adele's "Someone Like You." I look forward to Adele's cover of "Toolmaster of Brainerd." It would also sound good on the soundtrack of the Fargo TV show.
posted by larrybob at 9:12 AM on July 15, 2014 [3 favorites]

I heard Farm Accident play at the U one day. It was a free show with nearly no audience. We sat on a grassy hillside on the West Bank overlooking that bridge over the Mississippi River, on a sunny afternoon, and I was with my summer girlfriend. Man, being 17 was awesome.
posted by wenestvedt at 10:15 AM on July 15, 2014

(That was…um…July of 1989, maybe? I only threw away the t-shirt a few years ago.)
posted by wenestvedt at 10:18 AM on July 15, 2014

That's just my wishful thinking about Adele covering Trip Shakespeare.
There's some great obscure Minnesota underground music, turned into mp3s from cassette recordings and the like at Go Johnny Go's website. For instance, Breaking Circus' great 1986 record Ice Machine and the Hypnotic Tornado cassette compilation from 1985. And some 1990-91 recordings by Zuzu's Petals, an all-women band from Minneapolis which included Laurie Lindeen, now married to Paul Westerberg of the Replacements.
posted by larrybob at 11:10 AM on July 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

My favorite obscure Minnesota bands:

Jazz-punk combo 2i (Led by two musicians now sadly deceased, Dan Kaniess and Jay McHale, and other members included future Arcwelder drummer Scott Macdonald.) Releases: House of Nerves LP, Smile Down 7", a late-period self-titled CD (Break Even Records), and early cassette releases including Who Hears? and Never Pet a Burning Dog.

Another Jazz-punk combo: Rendered Useless. They had an art gallery space near the Metrodome called Circus to the Trade that was not as well-known at one-time Block E gallery Rifle Sport (not to be confused with the band Rifle Sport which included future Shellac drummer Todd Trainer) and somewhat of a precursor to Speedboat as a place where bands played. Released two LPs and some cassettes.
posted by larrybob at 5:52 PM on July 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

OMG, I remember an album called Never Pet A Burning Dog!! For a while, even though we didn't listen to it, the phrase was shorthand among my friends for bogus, pseudo-philosophical jibber-jabber. Good times!!

Does anyone remember the band The Wallets? Accordion and synthseizers, if I am remembering. Great fun! And oh my gosh, you can preview snippets of their songs on the iTunes Music Store, of all places! Here's a channel 5 (KSTP?) interview with them from 1987.
posted by wenestvedt at 9:13 AM on July 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

Absolutely remember the Wallets. I remember a show they played in the student center at Carleton College, the other college in Northfield than the one I went to. Also the Suburbs played a show there. I found out recently that sax player Max Ray is the brother of Dave Ray of Minneapolis blues band and Dylan pals Koerner, Ray & Glover. Wallets frontman Steve Kramer unfortunately died last year. He had been a member of the Contortions when he lived in New York (before he fell off a roof while intoxicated.) Some of Steve Kramer's art is reproduced in color in the essential book about the early-80s East Village scene, Art After Midnight. At one point he was even married to Patti Astor of FUN Gallery (showed Fab 5 Freddy, Futura 2000, Kenny Scharf, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring etc).
posted by larrybob at 3:09 PM on July 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

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