Bob Mould: Classic or Dud?

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Inspired by the Mould name-dropping in the TM thread.

I used to LOVE Bob Mould - specifically, Sugar. Specifically, _Copper Blue_. Specifically, "Helpless" and "The Slick". (Why I indentified so well with a vague song about a car crash, I don't know.) From there, I got into Husker Du & his solo work. Husker Du was a revelation for me @ that time, but Mould's solo work left me a bit unenthused.

I dare say his best album is his self-titled one, because it sounds like he's trying to do SOMETHING, trying to dig a bit deeper. _Workbook_ has some beautiful moments, and some pretentious ones (like the oft-praised "Brasilia Crossed With Trenton"). _Black Sheets of Rain_ is just too flat-rock for me - tepid & turgid to an extreme. I don't want to even try the latest album, though I did end up seeing him live during his tour for _Dog & Pony Show_. It was OK, but lackluster. Passionate, but detatched - like he's going through the motions. Maybe the other fannies were eating it up, but I was left blah.

So, now: SST-era Husker Du CDs stay in the collection, pulled out once in a blue moon (with _Everything Falls Apart_ getting the most recent play). Sugar CDs & Bob Mould CDs sold a few years ago. Kinda miss Sugar (the same way I've been nostalgic for Soundgarden the past few weeks); don't really miss the Mould solo stuff at all. To me, Bob Mould is the epitome of wasted potential. Given how I used to hold him in high regard, it's a shame.

David Raposa, Wednesday, 4 July 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

hey Dave, I agree with you on lots o things. Firstly, Bob Mould needs to pepper up his solo material a bit. Dog & Pony had too few moments on it for a full length release (mine even came with an interview disc!). I miss the days of Sugar. Those two albums + Beaster were the tightest Mould and his gang du jour ever sounded. I especially love 'Fortune Teller' and, yeah, 'Helpless' all takes me back to the 11th grade :D

Have to disagree with you about Black Sheets. As an album, it works because it's Bob acknowledging that he doesn't have to prove his cred to the die-hards anymore. And there's only a couple of unbearables like the sappy ballads off of Workbook or the '95 S/T release. Lots of straight-forward rockers on Black Sheets that sound good at the end of a hot hazy summer for some reason. I do miss the Huskers an awful lot (tho like you, Sugar was technically my intro to Mouldism)..Zen Arcade is still awesome. He could rock harder than any band in 2001, thats for sure.

Peeeve, Wednesday, 4 July 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

I bought Copper Blue used years ago because a high school friend swore by it. I have never, ever seen what makes that album special.

Josh, Wednesday, 4 July 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

As one of the Mouldies over at the TM thread, I felt I should go deeper. I first caught on to Husker Du around the time of New Day Rising, and at the time, it was a sonic assault, the likes of which I'd never heard before. Bob's guitar was magnificent--overdriven to the extreme, yet somehow still very melodic. I thought that album was great, even the Grant stuff. Digging further into the Du's catalogue, I found myself more and more drawn to the Bob material, especially on the later releases. So maybe he wasn't the most technically accomplished guitar player in the world, but he had a way of taking these really chunky overdriven strums and making them sound like the only thing that mattered. Even on Warehouse, which everyone else seemed to hate, Bob was able to pull off a number of great power pop numbers, like "Turn it Around", "Could You Be The One?", "Friend, You've Got to Fall" and "These Important Years".

Bob's first solo period was uneven. Everyone praised Workbook, but I didn't get it--there were some fine numbers, to be sure, especially on the first half ("See a Little Light" rose to the top I figure). Black Sheets of Rain, on the other hand, was bleak bleak bleak--the songs were dull, there was no dynamic range (how can there be when the whole thing is full-on?) and I felt there was precious little emotion in the record, something which later Husker Du-era Bob had.

My expectations for Sugar were extremely low after that. It was a really lovely surprise, then, that I utterly adored Copper Blue, which I think had his best songwriting ever ("If I Can't Change Your Mind" remains my favourite song ever written, bar none), and the backing band gave him a spark that made the album fun and exciting again. Plus that guitar sound...mmmm boy! Beaster was darker but still very sonically interesting. And File Under: Easy Listening, while it wasn't up to previous standards, still had quite a few great tracks.

Solo era two...I think David is probably right that his self-titled album is overall his best, with a lot of great numbers and a couple of blasts of guitar noise guaranteed to annoy parents and neighbors. Dog and Pony has some good numbers, but disappoints.

Ultimately, Mould has thrown off some clunkers, but I think the good stuff far outweighs those. And hell, he'd get classic in my book even if was only for that guitar tone. Mmmm.

Sean Carruthers, Wednesday, 4 July 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

I think the affect that album has on you depends on where you're coming from. _Copper Blue_ came (for me) right @ the beginning of my "underground music" exploration, and it totally blew my mind. Eventually, it lead me to other things (most notably, the SST posse), and the luster of that CD dimmer immensely. Once upon a time, though, _Copper Blue_ sounded FUN (like Mould & Co. had a thrill recording it).

All his work with Sugar (& later on, I'd gather) is very professional. Cleanly recorded in a dirty way, like Alan Moulder's production work, or _Loveless_. (One song off _File Under: Easy Listening_ "borrows" the melody from "Make a Wish". Also, he used to say something about his ideal show featuring MBV & Sugar on opposite ends of a football field making as much noise as possible.) Meticulous and modulated. Some inspired moments, sure - "If I Can't Change Your Mind" (as Sean noted), "Explode and Make Up", "Gee Angel". However, this professionalism arrived at the expense of any true passion. Sure, on _Beaster_, he screams his lungs out, but it all sounds pheff - not too different from the bevy of nu-metal poseurs out & about. It could just be a matter of him growing old / up - the intensity on older Husker Du material is apparent even when he's not screaming. Sugar sounds cool 'n' all dat, but it's not half as engaging as the messier stuff that preceeded it.

Sometimes I think that, on "I Hate Alternative Rock" ("I wish you had something new to say"), he's talking about himself. Ach - I feel like I'm talking about an ex-girlfriend that didn't live up to my expectations.

David Raposa, Wednesday, 4 July 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Husker Du - Classic

Bob Mould solo - Dud

Sugar - Classic

alex in nyc, Wednesday, 4 July 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

I'll second alex: husker du and sugar: classic, bobby moldy solo: blah

Blake, Thursday, 5 July 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Sugar: dud in letters a continent high. Liked it for about two weeks then hated it with a vengeance. Hated the voice, hated the noise, hated the songwriting, hated the lyrics - every single thing I have ever hated and will ever hate about 'indie rock' in one ghastly package. Then of course it was overpraised to fuck and back and I hated it even more. Listening to it was like being forced to eat a sweaty grey T-Shirt. I have noted down the people who are saying they like it and will be paying less attention to their opinions in future: sorry and all, you're lovely people but it's that mediocre.

(I then heard a bit of Husker Du and didn't like that either. But nowhere near as little as Sugar.)

Tom, Thursday, 5 July 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

I think the word I'm looking for is: blimey!

Bobby btw is between C and D. Husker Du: Classic. "Copper Blue", when it came out i played it over & over & over again (esp. side 1). Then out of the blue: nothing. Haven't played it since. By the time the next Sugar album came out (crap name for a band also) didn't care anymore as did most of us.

Omar, Thursday, 5 July 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

I may have gone a little over the top actually, in that I dont really care what anyone else thinks of Sugar. But you have to find your enemies somewhere.

Tom, Thursday, 5 July 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Sorry Tom but you'd best add another name to your list, everything Bob Mould has come into contact with *band-wise* has 'classic' stamped all over it. Can't say I've ever given his solo stuff much of a chance, but it sounded like a pale imitation of his earlier bombastic style, but still pisses over most of the so-called rock bands at the moment. 'Beaster' in particular rocks most viciously.

Add, Thursday, 5 July 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Aww, but Tom...we're still nice people. *sniffle*

Sean Carruthers, Thursday, 5 July 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Damn, Tom. Those who live in glass houses with pre-fab teen idols shouldn't throw stones lest they get dirty pop all over their chinos.

David Raposa, Thursday, 5 July 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

In the early '90s, Sugar (and Throwing Muses -- hah!) were THE antidote to American indie rock for me. They had ZERO of that smug posturing attitude, none of that lazy "Oh we can PLAY our instruments, we just refuse to" mentality. They wrote pop songs with standard pop song structures, threw some noise in for good measure, and played it louder and with more conviction than most around them.

The only thing they really had in common with an indie band was that they loaded their own gear. All three members had been involved with music for ages and never showed much bitterness about their stature. They made some records, played a ton of shows, were professional and smart about what they did and got the fuck out.

Okay -- so they were on Creation in the UK and Ryko (hardly a Touch & Go or Merge) in the US. Technically they were an indie band. However, Sugar never possessed any of the negative connotations I associate with the word 'indie'. I don't care about how many people have regarded Bob Mould too highly. It's not as if he ever whored himself out for the attention. Besides, he was too busy watching wrestling.

Andy, Thursday, 5 July 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Everything he did from Huskers to Beaster IS classic. The turning point is the Sugar album F.U.E.L., that album and everything after is a fucking dud.

Cash Lone, Sunday, 8 July 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

I never really got Sugar/Husker Du/Mould either. I can see how influential their sound was but that's about it. And my did the fruits of their roots go bad. NME naming 'Copper Blue' the best album of 1992 was almost as weird as them picking Queens Of The Stone Age last year.

Nick, Monday, 9 July 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

ten months pass...
Thank you David Raposa, I think you understadn what Ive been trying to do with my work better than thouse some people who only have negative things to say about anothers person love +work. If you dont like it, DO SOMETHING BETTER!!!!!

Bob Mould, Saturday, 25 May 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

I want to believe...

Ned Raggett, Saturday, 25 May 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

I bailed out after finding 'Workbook's' acoustic melancholy tepic but still rever the man. Mould's contributed more in many a Hüsker Dü solo than some decent bands do in 5 albums. Joe Carducci (plausibly) suggested Mould forming Sugar after seeing Nirvana's sales figures, and 'Copper Blue' is desperately drab, but 'wasted potential?' is way off the mark imho.

stevo, Saturday, 25 May 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

tepic = tepid

stevo, Saturday, 25 May 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Has anyone seen Hedwig and the Angry Inch yet? Bob Mould is playing on the soundtrack. i hate all his bands and his solo career so this is the best things hes done (except for the wrestling script writing of course).

hamish, Saturday, 25 May 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Husker du were one of the great bands. There is a tendancy to blame these guys (w/ pixies) for grunge but don't OK.

Solo= don't like it. The songwriting isn't on that great level.

Sugar= got copper blue and beaster. I love it! I can't undestand Tom's hatred of them. The NME (for once) got it right!

Julio Desouza, Monday, 27 May 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

There's two discrete solo periods for Bob, and I think in both cases the first album outshone the second. I liked Workbook just fine, but Black Sheets I found a bit dreary. I liked the self-titled one just fine, but the Last Dog and Pony Show had less sparkling moments...still, thought they were tons better than much of the other stuff I heard on the radio, so.

Sean Carruthers, Monday, 27 May 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

sean- got workbook and found it really disappointing. Didn't get anything else (another example of me getting one thing and not trying another if I'm disappointed).

Julio Desouza, Monday, 27 May 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Workbook is certainly disappointing if you are expecting full-out sonic assault ala Hüsker Dü, but it was actually quite a pleasure at the time, I remember. If I also remember correctly, the production on the album hasn't particularly aged well. I think there are still a number of songs on Workbook that are top notch, though: introspective yet angry, and still very melodic.

Sean Carruthers, Monday, 27 May 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

one year passes...
Reviving because ol' Bob apparently has a blog

Elvis Telecom (Chris Barrus), Monday, 19 January 2004 23:56 (seventeen years ago) link

holy shit! That's awesome. I remember this old SPIN cartoon where the author finds himself wondering what David Byrne is doing that very second and imagines Byrne playing a pair of congas. Soon, if we're curious, we won't have to wonder.

Anthony Miccio (Anthony Miccio), Tuesday, 20 January 2004 00:03 (seventeen years ago) link

His take on the whole 'Bush=Hitler' thing and the place of nuance (implicitly) in political discussion makes me happy.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Tuesday, 20 January 2004 00:08 (seventeen years ago) link

first i find out he's gay. then i find out he's got a blog. now i find out he djs electronica????
i obviously haven't been paying attention since beaster.

mullygrubber (gaz), Tuesday, 20 January 2004 00:14 (seventeen years ago) link

The Huskers stuff is more or less all classic. Up through Flip Yr Wig, Mould's songs were typically stronger than Hart's. Then for some reason on Candy Apple Grey, Bob's 'rock' songs are boring and his acoustic ones are amazing.

I like Sugar, and like nobody else I liked File Under more than Copper Blue. "Gee Angel" and "Explode & Make Up" and "Your Favorite Thing" are fucking brilliant. The live disc that came with Besides is also absolutely amazing. I really wish I had seen Sugar live; a bit too young.

His only solo stuff I've heard is the s/t one, and it's great, especially the quieter stuff. The harder/louder stuff sounds a little bizarre without a real band.

Ian Johnson (orion), Tuesday, 20 January 2004 04:00 (seventeen years ago) link

"Black Sheets of Rain" is better than you might expect and it was even better live. That band was a pretty good one: Tony Maimone on bass and Anton Fier on drums. It is really dark and angry. You can usually pick this one up for a buck or two.

After Sugar, I just can't get with what Bob has been doing. It started going wrong with that record where he did all of the instruments and the little I have heard after that one wasn't my thing.

Husker Du, parts of his first two solo records and Sugar are great.

It would be nice if Bob Mound could get over it and come to terms with Grant Hart. Even 15 years down the line, it seems like there is some really bad blood between them. Mould seems to want to write Grant Hart out of the history of the band or something. What a grudge or power trip. Mind you this is all based on reading bunches of interviews with both of them. Considering how Sugar ended up, a pattern seems somewhat evident.

Sugar was really good and much more intense live. It was a pretty brave move on Mould's part to tour a few times with that band before they had a record out. I saw them a couple of times, once at Bogarts in Cinci before anything had come out and once later on in Chicago. They were a blinding wall of sound live.

Never saw Husker Du. They were my favorite band when I was 17-18 years old and broke up my senior year in high school. A friend of mine used to have a tape of Husker Du playing on the Joan Rivers show, they did two songs and the set that looked like the cover of Warehouse: Songs and Stories. Joan also had them over briefly to be interviewed. My friend's Mom taped over it a couple of years later...what a loss. (This is the kind of thing that would be great on some deluxe Husker Du reissue, but Bob and Grant haven't been able to work things out to make something like this happen.)

earlnash, Tuesday, 20 January 2004 04:19 (seventeen years ago) link

Mound = Mould


earlnash, Tuesday, 20 January 2004 04:25 (seventeen years ago) link

I saw the "Black Sheets of Rain" here in NYC and, I mean, I had no opinion about the guy, a total feh reaction, but the show made my head explode. Especially, as noted by others, the guitar tone, and how purely pissed off he seemed.

Ian Grey (Ian_G), Tuesday, 20 January 2004 05:04 (seventeen years ago) link

four months pass...
My introduction was Copper Blue, which I still love to this day. I have the entire Huskers, Sugar and solo catalogue and can honestly say I have a genuine love for every record, with the exception of Modulate, which I just can't seem to connect with. The Loudbomb album I liked a lot better, but Modulate seemed too stuck between two worlds for me, and I found some of it made me cringe in the same way 'Megamanic' on Dog & Pony Show did.

It would be nice if Bob and Grant buried the hatchet, it would be great to hear the older albums remastered, particularly as they have never really been done justice on CD. But that seems unlikely, even as recently as Modulate the Grant-bashing persists (I thought the line "Some deadbeat Dad who lives at home" in The Receipt was particularly hurtful, Grant also claims that Bob cryptically reveals Grant's address in the lyrics to that song.)

I only saw Sugar once, in 1994 shortly after FU:EL came out - it was one of the biggest disapointments of my life. You just couldn't hear the guitar or vocals at ALL. Several audience members were trying to alert the band to this fact but to no avail.

Perhaps because Sugar were my favourite band when I was fifteen I still feel a very powerful emotional connection with Bob's songs, particularly those on Copper Blue and Warehouse. But I also believe he does the vulnerable lyrics/loud guitars thing better than anybody else. To this day, I tend to put a Bob record on to listen to loud, through headphones, late at night when I'm drunk!

All time favourites would be Zen Arcade, New Day Rising, Warehouse:Songs and Stories, Beaster.

Weaker moments: Candy Apple Grey (in term's of Bob's songs), Modulate.

Pretty much everything else, classic!

wombatX (wombatX), Monday, 31 May 2004 11:14 (sixteen years ago) link

Love Husker Du with a vengence, one of my favourite bands ever.

Haven't heard Sugar. Bought 'Modulate' the other day. It's okay, not outstanding, but something I'll listen to again, even though he sounds disturbingly like Dave Grohl, which a friend pointed out to me. Haven't heard anything else of his solo stuff, but apparently it's better. So, I'll have to get it.

Can I just say though, Grant Hart's 'Intolerence' is definitely worth getting.

Sasha (sgh), Monday, 31 May 2004 13:48 (sixteen years ago) link

Back in 2001, I wrote...

Husker Du - Classic

Bob Mould solo - Dud

Sugar - Classic

-- alex in nyc (vassife...), July 4th, 2001.

Looking back, that seems a bit harsh. While I still prefer Husker Du and Sugar, there have been moments in Bob's solo work that have been quite good.

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Monday, 31 May 2004 13:54 (sixteen years ago) link

I really like Black Sheets. I remember getting the album, playing it a lot, and seeing a great Mould show at Bogart's in Cincinatti that same week. He was definitely on that night and the songs sounded terrific, and I was able to get even more into the album after that. I quite like "Stop Your Crying."

shookout (shookout), Monday, 31 May 2004 14:39 (sixteen years ago) link

I just don't get it. With Husker Du Bob wrote & sang fantastic noisy-but-melodic songs and played guitar to match...then the band breaks up and it all goes to hell. Virtually nothing from his first two solo recs was memorable to me, so I hesitated buying Sugar until overwhelming universal praise won me over. And again...almost nothing. Two, maybe three memorable songs and zero guitar heroics. This guy used to SHRED: the best hardcore-derived guitarist in my opinion (including Greg Ginn), and now...who knows? It's like he's embarrassed or can't stand the noise or something. Where have his gifts gone? I don't understand it and I don't like it. And now I understand that he's turned to electronics like his hero Pete Shelley - wonder what that sounds like?

Myonga Von Bontee (Myonga Von Bontee), Monday, 31 May 2004 16:32 (sixteen years ago) link

I agree the quality isn't consistent on Bob Mould and Last Dog & Pony Show, however I find Workbook an enormously comforting and warm record. I kind of see Black Sheets as it's darker companion in the same way as Copper Blue/Beaster.

Sasha otm re: Intolerance - we need a Grant Hart thread..

wombatX (wombatX), Monday, 31 May 2004 23:36 (sixteen years ago) link

And again. "Intolerance" is prob my single fav record connected to Husker Du, incredibly fragile/sloppy and beautiful.

Mr Mime (Andrew Thames), Monday, 31 May 2004 23:39 (sixteen years ago) link

Sugar is bargain bin classic.

Be sure to Loop! Loop, Loop, Loop. (ex machina), Tuesday, 1 June 2004 12:00 (sixteen years ago) link

he sounds disturbingly like Dave Grohl

don't blame bob for that; he came first. although i always thought grohl was a bit closer to grant hart.

love love love husker du, although they started sliping on the last couple albums. i find sugar a tad bit less interesting than, say, jimmy eat world. not a huge waste of talent, just the usual steady decline.

fact checking cuz (fcc), Tuesday, 1 June 2004 13:26 (sixteen years ago) link

"See A Little Light" is faboo. Much of the rest of his solo output flies by me in a blur, tho there are songs here and there that stick out. I haven't paid attention to him since Sugar broke up (and even then I wasn't paying much attention to Sugar).

Shakey Mo Collier, Tuesday, 1 June 2004 17:55 (sixteen years ago) link

i just had this dilemma while going through and purging my cd collection. I've spared workbook and black sheets for the last six or seven purges (s/t and dog and pony were not so lucky; I'll keep the husker du albums I have; no-one will take copper blue away from me). I haven't made up my mind. I think what will probably save them is that I can't really sell them anywhere for anything over a dollar. Workbook is very dated productionwise, and like a lot of music of the same time (REM, specifically), I just have a hard time listening to it. It doesn't really bring back bad memories, but it seems like something that's steeped in a part of my life (college) that I'm just not interested in. Black Sheets's last track shreds though.

kyle (akmonday), Tuesday, 1 June 2004 18:04 (sixteen years ago) link

yeah, there's stuff on both of those albums that sound really cold and clunky, production-wise. And Anton Fier's drums sound like cardboard boxes.

Shakey Mo Collier, Tuesday, 1 June 2004 18:06 (sixteen years ago) link

his drums always sound like that. I don't really "get" anton fier.

kyle (akmonday), Tuesday, 1 June 2004 18:08 (sixteen years ago) link

Husker Du - dud
Sugar - dud
Bob solo - dud

He just seems so unimaginative, so lacking in spark. Sure, he had a good guitar sound. That doesn't give him license to make bog-standard indie fuzz songs for 20 years.

paulhw (paulhw), Tuesday, 1 June 2004 19:12 (sixteen years ago) link

Just listening to "Hoover Dam" for the first time in years; it sounds like Marillion! Not that there's anything wrong with that. Dick period anyway.

Keith Watson (kmw), Tuesday, 1 June 2004 21:02 (sixteen years ago) link

The moments in Bob Mould's solo career I think hold up to Husker Du and Sugar: "See A Little Light," "Whichever Way The Wind Blows," "Black Sheets Of Rain," "Anymore Time Between," "Next Time That You Leave," "Egoverride," "Hair Stew," "Roll Over And Die," "Trade."

Anthony Miccio (Anthony Miccio), Tuesday, 1 June 2004 21:55 (sixteen years ago) link

oh, and "New #1."

Anthony Miccio (Anthony Miccio), Tuesday, 1 June 2004 21:55 (sixteen years ago) link




On October 2nd, 2020, Demon Music Group will release Distortion: 1989-2019, a chronicle of the solo career of Bob Mould and his band Sugar. This massive anthology compiles for the first time the entirety of Mould’s recorded work from 1989 onwards: 18 studio albums, plus four live albums and two albums of rarities and collaborations. Assembled with Bob Mould’s full involvement and featuring new sleeve notes from legendary UK music critic Keith Cameron plus exclusive new artwork, this is the definitive portrayal of an American rock icon.

“It’s called Distortion because it describes the music and it fits the world we live in,” says Mould himself. “In this new age, everybody shares their life in real time. But I’m not done yet. If I didn't have a constantly active career, this anthology might feel like the proverbial dirt landing on top of my coffin — though somehow I seem to be able to crawl my way out of the dirt every time!”

Today’s news comes accompanied by audio and video of Mould performing ‘Could You Be the One?’ – a latter Hüsker Dü classic, drawn from the trio’s 1987 swansong Warehouse: Songs and Stories – at Washington D.C.‘s 9:30 Club in October 2005, in the process bringing it back to dynamic, electric life. It features on the CD anthology’s Distortion Plus: 1989-2019 rarities and collaborations discs alongside other highlights from the show.

Speaking of the show, Mould offers: “For years, I didn’t play Hüsker Dü material with my subsequent touring bands.” He continues: “This was the first time my longtime friend and colleague Jason Narducy (bass) played in my touring band. Rich Morel (keys) was my work partner for 11 years in BLOWOFF, and the 9:30 Club was home for our monthly dance party. Brendan Canty (drums) nudged me out of my self-imposed ‘rock retirement’ after the 1998 Last Dog and Pony Show tour (which is also chronicled in the box set). Brendan's company Trixie Productions filmed and edited the show.”

As Mould’s musical trajectory enters its fifth decade, now is the perfect moment to reflect on the journey so far. Distortion’s 24-CD box set edition features 295 tracks, mastered by Jeff Lipton and Maria Rice at Peerless Mastering in Boston, and includes every solo album from 1989’s Workbook to 2019’s Sunshine Rock, the entire Sugar catalogue, Mould’s long out-of-print electronica projects LoudBomb and Blowoff, and four live albums spanning the period 1989-2008. Also included is Distortion Plus: 1989-2019, a new and exclusive collection of rarities and collaborations, featuring such highlights as ‘Dear Rosemary’, Mould’s 2011 collaboration with Foo Fighters, his fabled Golden Palominos contribution ‘Dying From The Inside Out’, plus a previously unreleased demo version of ‘Dog On Fire’, his theme tune for Comedy Central’s The Daily Show.

Beautiful new artwork has been created by illustrator Simon Marchner, while the 72-page booklet features sleeve notes by Cameron, new interviews with Bob, a foreword by writer and actor Fred Armisen, testimonials by Richard Thompson, Shirley Manson and Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino, plus lyrics and unseen memorabilia. A 1,000-limited edition includes an exclusive print hand-signed by Bob himself.

Also released on October 2nd is the first in a series of four vinyl box sets spanning the same 30-year period. Distortion: 1989-1995 contains eight-LPs, beginning with Workbook through to the final Sugar studio album File Under: Easy Listening, plus Besides, Sugar’s compilation of B-sides and non-album tracks and Distortion Plus: 1989-1995 a new and exclusive collection of rarities and collaborations. Each album is mastered by Jeff Lipton and Maria Rice and features new Simon Marchner artwork; the 28-page companion booklet features new sleeve notes plus lyrics and memorabilia, while a 750-limited edition includes a 12”x12” screen print of the new Copper Blue artwork, hand-signed by Marchner and Mould.

The 24CD Distortion: 1989-2019 and 8LP Distortion: 1989-1995 boxsets are released Oct 2nd, 2020, via Demon Music Group. Keep your eyes peeled for three further vinyl boxsets in 2021.

Loud guitars shit all over "Bette Davis Eyes" (NYCNative), Friday, 14 August 2020 01:11 (six months ago) link

testimonials by Richard Thompson

Nice touch, knowing how deeply Mould is hit by Thompson's work.

Ned Raggett, Friday, 14 August 2020 02:59 (six months ago) link

That seems like a lot of Bob Mould solo!

Blues Guitar Solo Heatmap (Free Download) (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Friday, 14 August 2020 03:29 (six months ago) link

24 CDs of Bob Mould soloing.

Ned Raggett, Friday, 14 August 2020 03:32 (six months ago) link

Wow, that is an absurdly thorough box set that I have somehow heard most of. I'm due for some re-listening, but right now my instincts tell me

Modulate > Life & Times > Workbook > Last Dog & Pony Show > s/t > Beauty & Ruin > Black Sheets of Rain > Body of Song > Sunshine Rock > District Line > Silver Age > Patch the Sky

geoffreyess, Monday, 17 August 2020 01:56 (six months ago) link

I'm unlikely to buy this box, but I will say that this coming out reminded me that his self titled album exists. For whatever reason, it's not on Apple Music so I'm going to blame that. I bought that CD when it was released in 96 or so and loved it, but my life was at peak chaos that year and I completely forgot that it existed; even a few years back when I went and rediscovered the whole stretch from District Line through Silver Age, I forgot to listen to it, since it wasn't in my library (mp3s were all on another hard drive; I'd sold the CD years and years ago). I went back and gave that a listen and fuck me if I don't think it's his greatest album. For those interested it got a standalone vinyl reissue in the EU earlier this year apparently.

akm, Monday, 17 August 2020 14:08 (six months ago) link

and district line -> patch the sky or sunshine rock or whatever it is, that's a pretty amazing run of albums, even though they're a bit samey sounding.

akm, Monday, 17 August 2020 14:10 (six months ago) link

also, I hate this new artwork (for both the albums, and the artwork on the boxes). so cheap looking. I don't know why he didn't use the originals, which were amazing up to s/t anyway.

akm, Monday, 17 August 2020 14:11 (six months ago) link

Because depending on the licensing agreements he'd probably have to pay for them again.

EZ Snappin, Monday, 17 August 2020 15:33 (six months ago) link

I went back and gave that a listen and fuck me if I don't think it's his greatest album.

It's a great record. Anymore Time Between is his greatest break-up song (maybe tied with Can't Fight It)

Pinche Cumbion Bien Loco (stevie), Monday, 17 August 2020 21:28 (six months ago) link

I'm partial to Copper Blue myself.

Loud guitars shit all over "Bette Davis Eyes" (NYCNative), Monday, 17 August 2020 22:22 (six months ago) link

i remember liking silver age a ton

ciderpress, Monday, 17 August 2020 22:29 (six months ago) link

Man, I gave up after Last Dog And Pony realizing it was just going to be more of the same from then on and I was getting tired of his scab picking and mid tempo rock. For about 10 years (88-98) his music meant the world to me, but then I aged out of adolescent navel gazing (I still like Workbook though).

Grant's solo albums are all fantastic to me, though, right to the end.

Boring, Maryland, Monday, 17 August 2020 22:51 (six months ago) link

The albums after Dog and Pony are 'more of the same' in so far as they have a consistent aesthetic and approach, but they aren't anything like Dog and Pony; like I said up above, they're all like 'pretty good Sugar albums'.

If I had to rank post-husker, I'd do it this way:

1. Copper Blue
2. Bob Mould
3. Workbook
4. Black Sheets of Rain
5. Beaster
then basically everything else tied for 6th place (I haven't gone back to Dog and Pony or the electronic side projects)

akm, Monday, 17 August 2020 23:12 (six months ago) link

I'ill also stan for Copper Blue.

Boring, Maryland, Monday, 17 August 2020 23:40 (six months ago) link

i dug “last dog and pony show” a fair amount when it came out, would like to listen to it again. haven’t heard any other solo mould.

brimstead, Tuesday, 18 August 2020 00:06 (six months ago) link

No reason to stan for Copper Blue -- it's one of the decade's best albums.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 18 August 2020 00:13 (six months ago) link

and, yeah, Workbook, I'll argue, was acoustic and strange like Automatic for the People was but four and a half years early.

I bought Mould albums through the eponymous 1996 albums.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 18 August 2020 00:14 (six months ago) link

I've only ever gotten into Beaster and Copper Blue. Everything else has had its moments but has fallen short of my high expectations.

Josh in Chicago, Tuesday, 18 August 2020 00:36 (six months ago) link

Workbook > Copper Blue > everything else

all we are is durst in the wind (Ye Mad Puffin), Tuesday, 18 August 2020 00:45 (six months ago) link

(for me)

(and omitting Husker Du / Grant solo from the ranking)

all we are is durst in the wind (Ye Mad Puffin), Tuesday, 18 August 2020 00:45 (six months ago) link

I often think HD had to happen to produce two recordings as piledriing, subtle, and beautiful as Copper Blue and Beaster.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 18 August 2020 00:53 (six months ago) link

Oh yeah, if I'd included Sugar in my list they'd all come first of course. With File Under first among firsts.

geoffreyess, Tuesday, 18 August 2020 02:40 (six months ago) link

Beaster >>>>>

lukas, Thursday, 20 August 2020 19:06 (six months ago) link

Most of Mould’s post-eponymous album seem like the work of a confused middle aged man who no longer knows what to do with himself. Dog & Pony was supposed to be his MCCARTNEY or something, and it’s extremely weak. MODULATE is embarrassing. Didn’t he start DJ’ing in Berlin or do something ridiculous along those lines?

Grant Hart’s catalog is straight-up wonderful from beginning to end, and I hope his final recordings get released

beamish13, Thursday, 20 August 2020 19:09 (six months ago) link

that's hardly 'most' of his work. yeah he did some electronic stuff but he has seven guitar-heavy (some really heavy) albums that came after that, with an 8th coming out soon.

akm, Thursday, 20 August 2020 19:14 (six months ago) link

But even his guitar-centered stuff in the 21st century sounds dull and uninspired for the most part

beamish13, Thursday, 20 August 2020 19:15 (six months ago) link

eh, disagree. Those albums are as good as FUEL IMO.

akm, Thursday, 20 August 2020 20:09 (six months ago) link

he had a dj residency in San Francisco, I believe

brimstead, Thursday, 20 August 2020 20:24 (six months ago) link

Don't want to dox him but I occasionally see him in the park walking his dog. He's absolutely nondescript and blends in like a regular joe. I keep meaning to ask his thoughts re: my pet theory on how he invented shoegaze* but I wouldn't want to "out" him/creep him out, and most of the time I'm running after my kid.

*HÜSKER PÖLL: Warehouse - Songs and Stories

Jersey Al (Albert R. Broccoli), Thursday, 20 August 2020 20:49 (six months ago) link

I don't think he'd have any issues talking to you about things, I've heard he's perfectly friendly. I didn't realize he was still living here.

akm, Thursday, 20 August 2020 21:08 (six months ago) link

eh, disagree. Those albums are as good as FUEL IMO

Imo (and I think this quite a common opinion) FUEL was his weakest album to that point in his career. I felt he was treading water, sonically and, to an extent, in the songwriting. Like, that point in the late 90s where he talks of being sick of loud guitars, *that* album always sounded like he was ready to hang it up (even though it happened a few years later)

Tbh I hear quite a bit of that album in the recent stuff, guitar tone included; it feels like stuff he could do in his sleep; some of it is great, but I feel myself paying more attention when he changes things up in a more dynamic sense - Workbook after the Husker split, Beaster after Copper Blue, even Modulate (even if we knew at the time that changes were afoot)

Master of Treacle, Friday, 21 August 2020 00:10 (six months ago) link

Even Copper Blue - although it kept the guitars - was tonally a 180 from the relative murk of Black Sheets of Rain

Master of Treacle, Friday, 21 August 2020 00:15 (six months ago) link

one month passes...

Bob profiled by Stevie.

erratic wolf angular guitarist (sic), Thursday, 1 October 2020 00:57 (four months ago) link

Interesting interview. I still haven't listened to Blue Hearts yet though

curmudgeon, Thursday, 1 October 2020 02:43 (four months ago) link

Oh, Guardian interview above with its discussion of the reconciliation with Grant discussed on Husker Du thread

Husker Du : Classic or Dud, Search and Destroy.

curmudgeon, Thursday, 1 October 2020 02:51 (four months ago) link

parts of the new album sound quite superchunk, which probably isn't too surprising considering he's using their rhythm section and he's an obvious inspiration

dude is prolific as hell. also he's gonna turn 60 in a couple weeks, which i am perhaps not ready to contemplate

mookieproof, Thursday, 1 October 2020 02:56 (four months ago) link

WTF at that Bad Brains note.

Dan Worsley, Thursday, 1 October 2020 07:51 (four months ago) link

New album is terrific. That and the new PE made a righteous angry 1-2 playing them back to back.

Dan Worsley, Thursday, 1 October 2020 07:52 (four months ago) link

Bad Brains were notorious homophobes, it’s been written about a lot; AFAIK they’ve renounced that stance and behaviour of the time in recent years, which is something.

I didn’t know that Mould visited Hart before he died; that brought more than a tear to my eye.

wronger than 100 geir posts (MacDara), Thursday, 1 October 2020 10:58 (four months ago) link

Not sure which thread I posted it on but...

There's a pretty big free concert here every early autumn that's folk/bluegrass-focused but also draws in artists from all sorts of genres/pockets of music.

In 2017 shortly after Grant died, Bob Mould was playing one of the 5 stages and while we were walking by (we hadn't committed to watching anything as we had a young babby with us), he opened his set with this:

Jersey Al (Albert R. Broccoli), Thursday, 1 October 2020 15:36 (four months ago) link

two weeks pass...

bob mould turns 60 today

mookieproof, Friday, 16 October 2020 05:11 (four months ago) link

happy birthday to bob!

Walter Draggedman (stevie), Friday, 16 October 2020 07:40 (four months ago) link

These are his important years

nonsensei (Ye Mad Puffin), Friday, 16 October 2020 08:24 (four months ago) link

Compositions For The Young And Old

logout option: disabled (Matt #2), Friday, 16 October 2020 08:46 (four months ago) link


nonsensei (Ye Mad Puffin), Friday, 16 October 2020 08:54 (four months ago) link

four months pass...

I need to listen some more, but at least for my tastes, Sunshine Rock may be his most enjoyable album since Sugar. I never got into the work he put out after Sugar and before his current trio - it wasn't necessarily bad, but it never clicked with me. Silver Age and its two darker follow-ups were the first Mould albums I kind of enjoyed in a long time, but as mentioned above, they don't break any new ground, musically speaking. I get the feeling most people think Sunshine Rock is more of the same, but I think the songs are fundamentally better - better tunes, better hooks, better production. It's not an enormous difference, but it's enough that it's emerging as a real standout for me.

birdistheword, Friday, 19 February 2021 03:56 (one week ago) link

(FWIW, as much as I like Sugar, the stuff I play most is Hüsker Dü - one of my very favorite bands.)

birdistheword, Friday, 19 February 2021 03:59 (one week ago) link

Sunshine Rock is definitely excellent, a late-era peak. I interviewed him circa then and he said the sleeve was a tribute to the labels of the Beach Boys 7"s he collected and revered as a kid.

Ray Cooney as "Crotch" (stevie), Friday, 19 February 2021 08:39 (one week ago) link

Nice! Yeah I noticed, though for me it was the old Beach Boys CD's that used to replicate the same label (not all of them, but most of them starting with the early '90s reissues and box set).

I jumped around some of the earlier trio albums, and Sunshine Rock feels more like a noticeable improvement over the others. Hüsker Dü was often an insanely catchy band to me - arguably a lot of that came from Hart, but I really missed how those tunes came drenched with Mould's guitar. His trio albums may have been a return to that approach, but except for a handful of cuts like "I Don't Know You Anymore," I don't think he really got anything quite on par with that alchemy of sound and songcraft until Sunshine Rock.

I totally missed Blue Hearts (which came out in late September), but it'll be interesting to compare. It's a full-out protest album, but he wrote and possibly recorded some protest songs prior to Sunshine Rock before setting them aside for thematic reasons. I don't know if they're the same songs, but I get the impression tunefulness was more of a secondary concern, so it's possible Sunshine Rock is so engaging due to intent and design as much as a musical breakthrough.

birdistheword, Friday, 19 February 2021 16:48 (one week ago) link

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