Monday, February 19, 2007

album of the day

Copper Blue by Sugar.

I never quite "got" Husker Du, despite owning a couple of their albums - I seem to have lost my copy of Candy Apple Grey, but I've still got Warehouse. And it's good (probably their best album, in fact, as well as being their last), but it's unforgivably weedily produced. There's no discernible bass, and the drums sound like Grant Hart is playing a selection of paper bags.

Husker Du imploded in 1988-ish and Bob Mould (who also has a blog - all the best people do, you know) released a couple of solo albums, Workbook (glum) and Black Sheets Of Rain (suicidal), before forming Sugar. This is their first album, from 1992, and probably the most satisfying album of Mould's career. All the elements you'd want are there: a much less gutless production job, a cracking set of songs, and Mould's uniquely ear-shredding guitar assault. Metaphors involving metal and glass seem to spring to mind when trying to desbribe it - someone chainsawing up tungsten pews in a glass cathedral? Someone crash-landing a glass aeroplane on an aluminium mountain? Two strontium minotaurs having sex in a crystal decanter shop? You get the idea.

What us old-fashioned vinyl-weaned types used to call Side 1 (The Act We Act through to Hoover Dam) is a succession of pop-metal nuggets, The Act We Act and Helpless being the pick of them - Side 2 (The Slim through to Man On The Moon) is a bit darker and heavier, both musically and in subject matter (apart from the jaunty, jangly minor hit single If I Can't Change Your Mind) - The Slim appears to be about losing a partner to AIDS, and Slick appears to be written from the point of view of someone convalescing after a car crash. All good cheery stuff, as is Fortune Teller, which is probably the best thing on the album. Another one for my inadvertent series Great Rock Albums Of The 1990's.

Sugar went on to follow this up with the mini-album Beaster which is much more hardcore and forbidding, though it does include JC Auto, which may just be the most thrilling rock song ever recorded, and then File Under Easy Listening which is fine, just not quite up to Copper Blue's standard. Then they split up.

Bizarre footnote #1: Bob Mould worked as a scriptwriter for WCW wrestling for a while - a strange career change for a chubby gay musician.
Bizarre footnote #2: Husker Du were from Minneapolis, as is Prince. Both artists released albums in 1987, Husker Du's Warehouse: Songs And Stories and Prince's Sign O'The Times. Both are long, sprawling double albums, neither carries the name of the album or artist on the front cover, and both feature garishly lit photo montages on the front featuring lots of dead flowers. Spooky!

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