Sugar


Copper Blue

Sugar - Copper Blue ©1992 Rykodisc
1. The Act We Act
2. A Good Idea
3. Changes
4. Helpless
5. Hoover Dam
6. The Slim
7. If I Can't Change Your Mind
8. Fortune Teller
9. Slick
10. Man On The Moon

For whatever reason, Bob Mould decided to place himself back in the three piece band format for a period of time, dubbing the outfit Sugar. Rather than being the sweet connotation of the word, Copper Blue is a bit more dry and stodgy than one might hope for. Regardless, the album still has Bob Mould going for it and that one thing alone will guarantee at least a handful of damn near perfect rock gems. Whether it's fair to Bob or not, anything he does will get compared to his original band Husker Du and unfortunately, being in another trio would not alleviate those comparisons. If nothing else, Sugar is indeed an extension of the latter day fuzz pop of Husker Du. Songs like "Hoover Dam", "If I Can't Change Your Mind" or "Changes" are instantly likeable and tasty. Fortunately there is also a darker edge, such as the harrowing and cold "The Slim". For the most part the album has a consistent, if not overly similar, sound throughout, complete with signature Mould guitar and a highly competent - yet not standout - rhythm section. In the vast spectrum of Mould creations, Copper Blue is a reasonable release, but not the best thing he has ever put out.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 12/1999

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Beaster EP

Sugar - Beaster EP ©1993 Rykodisc
1. Come Around
2. Tilted
3. Judas Cradle
4. JC Auto
5. Feeling Better
6. Walking Away

I don't know if Bob Mould intended to make the most blistering and complete record of his career when he initiated the Beaster sessions with Sugar. Though famous for his wall of sound guitar and enveloping layers of distortion, feedback and power, Mould outdid everything in one single half hour stroke. Beaster is one album that must be experienced in a single setting and in its entirety. The gentle "Come Around" does not even hint at the fury contained in "Tilted". The second track starts out with a slow building riff and then unleashes into one of the most captivating compositions I can recall in Mould's songbook. One of my friends a long time ago complained his vocals were buried too far within the mix, but the slightly covered sound actually enhances what the guitars are saying. "Judas Cradle" features a lot of feedback before condensing into a powerful rhythm. Though the overall feeling is one of tension throughout the middle of the album, "Feeling Better" actually is an upbeat song that pulls the listener to safety. "Walking Away" is actually a very peaceful keyboard/vocal bit that serves as a perfect epilogue to the half hour before it. Sugar on a whole never quite matched this EP for complete consistency throughout. Easily the best single thing Mould did in his band formats (either Husker Du or Sugar), Beaster is the first thing you should have in your collection when you think "Bob Mould".

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 08/1993

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Bob's Full House [bootleg]

Sugar - Bob's Full House ©1993 Pseudo Indie Label
1. The Act We Act
2. A Good Idea
3. Changes
4. Out Of Time
5. Helpless
6. If I Can't Change Your Mind
7. Where Diamonds Are Halos
8. Hoover Dam
9. Beer Commercials
10. Slick
11. Anyone
12. Clownmaster
13. The Slim
14. Armenia City In The Sky
15. Dum Dum Boys
16. Man In The Moon
17. Tilted
18. JC Auto
19. Hoover Dam
20. Lonely Blue Dreams

Bob's Full House is a suprisingly good bootleg disc culled from several 1992 performances as well as a 1991 outtake from a college radio station. Most bootlegs you hear demonstrate why most bands hate them: bad sound and overall quality. However, Bob's Full House does not share these qualities. Rivalling the bonus disc of Besides for a good live Sugar document, this album sounds good and shows the band in prime form. The only two tracks that do not have good sound are "Tilted" and "J.C. Auto", which were recorded at a London show. But eighteen out of twenty represents a pretty good number of quality songs. A few tracks appear here that seem to show up nowhere else in Sugar's discography: "Beer Commercials", "Dum Dum Boys" and the college radio outtake "Lonely Blue Dreams". Overall the band's performance is sterling throughout. The band tends to not waste onstage time with friendly between-songs banter. Sugar was all about getting to the point and this bootleg disc only proves it.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 11/1999

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File Under: Easy Listening

Sugar - File Under: Easy Listening ©1994 Rykodisc
1. Gift
2. Company Book
3. Your Favorite Thing
4. What You Want It To Be
5. Gee Angel
6. Panama City Motel
7. Can't Help You Anymore
8. Granny Cool
9. Believe What You're Saying
10. Explode And Make Up

Possibly released with higher expectations than what was ultimately served up, File Under: Easy Listening (aka FU:EL by fan types) turned out to be the final studio release by Sugar before Bob Mould broke the band up and retreated back to his solo soup kitchen. The album found the trio in prime alternative pop form, returning a bit to the more upbeat style found on the Copper Blue debut rather than the dark wall of sound of Beaster. The guitars sparkle and the rhythm section is perfectly in place, but at the same time FU:EL sounds like a band given a catchy-music-by-numbers worksheet and just going through it in a systematic fashion. Sure, there are some darned catchy numbers on here, guaranteed to get you humming along in no time and if you're not careful, your toe might tap along as well. "Your Favorite Thing", the infectious "Can't Help You Anymore" and the quite nifty "Gee Angel" are certainly as yummy as Mould & Co. might ever offer. But this album also seems to be missing the pathos and utter despair that serviced Mould quite well in the past. Even when songs are meant to be tinged with unhappiness, the sparkling production makes the band sound downright cheerful even when they're supposed to be gloomy. Perhaps only "Explode and Make Up" really captures a completely appropriate mood. The rest of the album, while quite competent and extremely snappy in all the right spots, is just too darned shiny to be properly a Mould record. While still better than ninety-nine percent of the bands influenced by Mould and his past projects, File Under: Easy Listening tends to get filed well behind other Mould records.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 10/2000

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