Since Hüsker Dü’s breakup in 1988, countless bands have covered their songs. But Anthrax’s version of “Celebrated Summer” stands out as the best of the best.
If you know anything at all about the legendary thrash metal band, Anthrax, you probably know that they’re great at recording amazing cover songs of the artists who inspire them. From Rush and Black Sabbath to Kiss, Thin Lizzy, and Joe Jackson, Anthrax have both played live and recorded covers of some of the biggest names in rock.
If you’re an Anthrax fan (like me), you probably also know that as thrash metal pioneers in the 1980s, Anthrax’s ties to punk rock and hardcore punk run deep. Aside from Anthrax members Scott Ian and Charlie Benante founding S.O.D. in 1985, a band that blazed a trail for the hardcore punk/thrash metal hybrid genre of crossover thrash, Anthrax have also covered The Ramones, Sex Pistols, and even Discharge.
But did you know that Anthrax’s prowess at recording meticulously accurate cover songs and affinity for punk rock converged in the mid-1990s to deliver what is possibly the single best Hüsker Dü cover ever recorded?
By the mid-1980s, Hüsker Dü were easily the most popular Midwest punk band, and their status as an influential alternative rock act was on its way to being cemented. Hot on the heels of their ambitious second album, Zen Arcade (1984), Hüsker Dü released a promo single for “Celebrated Summer”, which later appeared on their landmark record, New Day Rising in 1985. The song evokes the aimless energy of youth, the somber transition into adulthood, and the pangs of regret while looking back at what one has taken for granted.
Ten years later, Anthrax released their second album with vocalist John Bush, Stomp 442 (1995). The first single from the album, “Fueled“, was re-released in 1996 with bonus cover tracks that included this unbelievably faithful rendition of “Celebrated Summer” (the track would also later appear on a remaster of Stomp 442 in 2001):
It’s clear that Anthrax put a ton of heart into recording this cover. They nailed everything — from recreating Bob Mould’s guitar sound and Grant Hart’s drumming style, to delivering the passionate vocals and twin harmonies that Hüsker Dü are so well known for. What’s even better is that the Anthrax cover appears to be based on the live version of “Celebrated Summer” from Hüsker Dü’s epic live album, The Living End:
The love for Hüsker Dü doesn’t stop there, though. Anthrax drummer Charlie Benante also played in a Hüsker Dü cover band known as the Dü Hüskers. There aren’t any recordings to be found online, but a database of Hüsker Dü covers and tributes documents that the band played a concert on September 17, 1994 at CBGB’s in New York, and that a cassette recording of the show was made. If they knew about its existence, I’m sure that fans and collectors of both bands would jump at the chance to get their hands on this recording.
It’s not hard to see why Charlie Benante might have an affinity for Grant Hart. Both are incredible drummers, and both are prolific creators — Benante writes most of Anthrax’s songs, and Hart wrote almost half of Hüsker Dü’s (nearly all of the rest having been written by the brilliant Bob Mould).
But there’s also another connection between the two bands that becomes clearer when you examine their respective legacies. Both bands were pioneers in their respective genres, and both never quite got the recognition they deserved. Hüsker Dü had broken up just a few short years before many of the bands they influenced, like Nirvana, Foo Fighters, and Green Day, became superstars. And despite practically inventing rap metal, Anthrax struggled through lineup and label changes while bands like Limp Bizkit, Lincoln Park, and Korn went on to make millions.
When Anthrax’s original lineup first reunited in 2006, Benante drew a fitting comparison between Anthrax and Hüsker Dü in an interview for The Morning Call:
“I don’t think we’ve gotten the recognition we’ve deserved. Not that I’m looking for it, but it would be nice to get that appreciation. I don’t know why it was, but a lot of what we did was ahead of its time and other people came along and picked up on it. I kind of compare it to what went on in the 1980s in Minneapolis with Husker Du and The Replacements, where they were breaking ground in an independent form and then other bands came along years later and reaped the rewards.”