Thursday, 9 June 2011

Grant Hart: Ecce Homo

We British love the Underdog. While our American cousins hold success as the ultimate prize, we Brits love the idea of a ‘tryer’. Grant Hart is a tryer. And a succeeder.  

He’s always been in the shadow of his Husker Du bandmate Bob Mould, primarily for the crime of not making records that sound like HD. His albums are always fascinating – grab bags full of different styles, moods and textures. Literary references rub up against feral Rock and Roll all topped off by his trademark voice. Oh man, that voice… His live shows are incredible with Grant dipping back into his enviable back catalogue and trotting out new classics with ease. His short lived band project ‘Nova Mob’ were an electrifying exercise in minimal, aggressive Alt Rock. I’ll be posting a live recording or two from them as the weeks progress. Meanwhile, enjoy this – the inexplicably deleted solo live CD ‘Ecce Homo’.

This is just Hart and an acoustic guitar…and 14 magical songs. It’s great to hear them in this format as you can actually ‘hear’ them – stripped of the raging guitars and drums, the tunes take on a new life – simple but beautiful. He’s a ‘strummer’ so if you’re looking for Nick Drake style fluid arrpegiation, look elsewhere. But if you want passion and energy, here ya go.

What a life he has had – a lot of it informs his writing, including the superb ‘2541’. That has to be one of the saddest songs ever written. The line ‘And it will probably not be the last time I have to be out by the first’ gets me every time. It’s featured here along with its original ‘B’ side ‘Come Come’.

The fact that Grant isn’t a major star makes me sad, but I guess his ‘cult’ status means he can stay under the radar and continue to make idiosyncratic music exactly to his specifications. That is, when he’s not creating 2D art or fixing up his beloved Studebaker.

(In a fit of egomania, I’ve posted some posters I was asked to design for a couple of his shows in the US. These weren’t the ones that eventually got used as they were a bit too ‘off topic’, but I prefer them to the finished product. Oh the tortured artist…)

(Actually, the Studebaker design got used as Grant really liked the car...)

Grant Hart: Ecce Homo (1995)
Ballad Number 19   
Evergreen Memorial Drive   
Come Come  
Pink Turns to Blue  
She Floated Away  
The Girl Who Lives on Heaven Hill 
Admiral of the Sea 
Back Somewhere  
Last Days of Pompeii   
Old Empire   
Never Talking to You Again  
Please Don't Ask  
The Main


  1. Sorry, Rushbo. Forgot to say thanks for this great post! Although I'm certainly aware of Husker Du's influence on some very good bands, I've always preferred Grant Hart's solo stuff to that of the band. You might be able to put him in the "should have been huge" category, but he's done pretty good for himself and while I'm not that big a fan of the band, his involvement with HD did make it possible for Hart to put out wonderful music like this, for which I am very thankful. I'm really just surprised that no one else has also said thanks for this great post!

  2. Cheers Oxy.

    Yeah, bit of a weird one - loads of people snatched it, but no one commented. I put this down to GH fans being shy, retiring types. I'd put most of his solo work up there with the best of Husker Du, although my favourite stuff might be the much maligned Nova Mob. I thought they were outstanding.

  3. I've been following Grant's solo (and Nova Mob) career for over twenty years now. I bought a copy of Ecce Homo on eBay a little over a year ago, so already own it. Otherwise, I would have gladly taken this download and thanked you for it profusely! I paid more than I should have for the CD, and apologized to Grant for it -- glad to have the music, but sorry that the profit from the sale ended up in someone else's pocket. It is a beautiful album, and was worth every penny. And I have atoned for my sin.

    Grant is brilliant in so many respects, and it's nice to know others appreciate him as such.

    Good post. Thank you. :-)