There's no real reason to believe this was anything other than a last little cash-in on the part of Warner Bros., who had the rights to only two studio albums anyway, but whatever the motive, the end results are enjoyable indeed. Stitched together from a variety of shows on the final Hüsker Dü
tour in late 1987, The Living End
may not be a true representation of the band's sets, but as a collection of tracks by an about-to-crack group still firing on all fours live, it's quite a treat. David Fricke
's polished but not revelatory liner notes do contain a number of more elucidating comments from the bandmembers themselves, with Mould
capturing the sense of things best: "The music was so strong, everybody got caught up in it. It was easy to say, 'F*** all this other sh*t' for an hour." Or in this case, an hour and a quarter of mostly previously released material, though there were two new songs -- "Now That You Know Me" and "Ain't No Water in the Well" -- plus a merry rip through the Ramones
' classic "Sheena Is a Punk Rocker." Production and assembly by the trio's live soundman, Lou Giordano
, certainly helps everything sound technically good -- Hart in particular is storming down from the heights -- though there are a few instances where backing vocal mixes aren't quite what they could be. Or the leads -- calling "Everytime" gutteral is almost too flattering. For the most part the song choices emphasize the quick and immediate numbers rather than those where the band showed a touch more exploratory impulses, and while it's hard to fault the song choices, sometimes they blend into each other a bit too much. However, as with much of their studio material, the sheer power and passion of the band often carries all before it, and certainly the appreciative audiences don't hold back their responses.