The Punk Vault

The many flavors of: Husker Du – Zen Arcade

It just so happens that one of my three favorite punk rock albums of all time came in quite a few variations. I can’t tell you how many thousands of times I’ve played this double album in my life from start to finish. It is truly one of those records that I think should be issued with every home. Not only did this record come on a few different colors of vinyl, but it was released overseas in two different countries. Well, enough of my blabbering, let’s get down to business.

The first pressing came on black vinyl, and had no barcode on the back, as I’m pretty sure they had not even been invented yet when this was released! The sleeve was a heavy cardboard type stock. The lyrics and liner notes are printed inside the gatefold sleeve in blue and white.
zen arcade first press

There was also a UK pressing, also on SST. The only real difference is just the address on the back cover.
zen arcade uk pressing

The record was also licensed to Aggressive Rockproduktionen in Germany and released there. The back cover had their own label information,
zen arcade german pressing

and the inside sleeve was black and white instead of blue and white. The spine also was plain white with regular type as opposed to all the other variations where the spine was part of the artwork.
zen arcade german press inside

Around 1989 when SST started pressing their records on colored vinyl for a year or so, there ended up being five different colored vinyl runs of this album, with 1000 being pressed of each one according to the information former SST employee, Chuck Dukowski, told me. The colors for this particular release were:

red vinyl,
red vinyl

blue vinyl,
blue vinyl

gold vinyl (perhaps my favorite),
gold vinyl

a sort of lime green vinyl,
green vinyl

and orange vinyl.
orange vinyl

So there you go, every variation of Zen Arcade that I’ve ever seen with the exception of the test pressing (which I’m certainly in need of!).


  • lately i haven’t been able to se any images on this site. is it just me? the huskers are my favourite band and now its really bothering me.

  • One of the landmark albums in my life. My wife and I both agree this should be required listening for the kids. I still don’t think I’ve ever listened to reoccuring dreams the whole way through. Hard to believe they would do that one live sometimes

  • Yes, those are all mine. There are a few “rules” I have here with my site, first and foremost is every record featured on this site is a record found in The Punk Vault.

  • My husband and I grew up in Minneapolis (I’m now 39) and saw the Huskers many many times. Always one of my favorites to listen to – still.

    Great site – I’ve been meaning to stop by. If you go on my blog you’ll see a small gallery of some of my flyer collection and a few band photos (towards the bottom).

  • Great post…
    thanks for clearing the variations question up
    I have it on blue/red. I thought you could tell the 90’s era cos they were on solid colours… wish someone could put together a full list of SST colours!


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