Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Sugar - Copper Blue

Merge Records is re-releasing Sugar’s debut album, Copper Blue, with a bunch of bonus material and mix that was supposed to correct some Dolby error where Thomas Dolby actually came into the mixing sessions and made the right channel a tad bit louder than the left because Tom was blinded with science.
Regardless of the issue, and regardless of the desire of fans’ need to run out and acquire this re-issue, I do what I normally do in these instances: check out my copy to see if there is any inherent need for me to purchase the same shit twice.

For me, there wasn’t. The left and right channels play just fine for this untrained ear and Copper Blue was exactly as I remembered it. And if there are any novices looking to examine Bob Mould’s first band project outside of Husker Du, I would suggest visiting the local used record store (if you have anything local) because I remember seeing multiple used copies of this, Beaster and File Under Easy Listening in nearly every used record store that I visited during the 90’s.

I like Copper Blue. It brought me back to Mould after his pair of “adult” solo records which did nothing for me except declare Grant Hart the winner of the post-Husker solo record war. Sugar found him back in his element of a band unit, albeit one where he was the sole creative force and one where he could properly take advantage of the grunge era darlings in much the same way they took advantage of the Husker’s formula.

It’s glossy, but it’s filled with wall-to-wall guitars to the point where Mould’s vocals are impeccably places right between the distortion, strangely treated a bit to sound like they’re sung through a humbucker pick up.

Maybe that’s just the Dolby issue talkin.

Side one, to use the parlance of the original release date, is the stronger of the two sides with no evidence of a dud from start to finish. I remember dropping my guitar strings down to “D” and playing along with “The Act We Act” with the line “the confusion that persists/the decisions that you guessed” striking a reactionary chord inside of me for some reason.

But wasn’t this a record for the novices? The latecomers who weren’t around to care or notice every single song of brutal beauty that the Huskers laid forth previously? I say this because there’s nothing on Copper Blue that sways my heart away from “Celebrated Summer” or any number of tunes in the Husker’s cannon that spoke louder and clearer than anything since. While there’s nothing as good as the original thing, Copper Blue does an admirable job of bringing more people to the Bob Mould camp than anything since his time with a certain little power trio from Minneapolis.

And if it points them to the direction of his previous band, then Copper Blue is successful all the way around.


Cousin J said...

I can't find a Sugar song I like as much as any HUSKER tune. Tried but couldn't make it through this. DU is one of my core bands and i've really tried but, no Sugar for me. I dig a lot of Grant's post stuff but for some reason Bob sounds like he's going through the motions even though I know he's not.

Todd Totale said...

I was going to say: there is a reason why you frequently saw used Sugar cds instead of old Husker tunes. Unless you count Warehouse, har har har. I still say it's probably Mould's best post-Husker moment and for me, side one of Copper Blue is pretty awesome when played loud, from start-to-finish. And side two starts off with one of my favorite Mould songs ever: "The Thin," a passionately off-kilter rocker about the A.I.D.S. epidemic.

Kiko Jones said...

It might be uncool to admit but I prefer Copper Blue to any Hüsker Dü album. Why? Production. Have you heard a Hüsker album lately? Good Lord! Even Candy Apple Grey is hard on the ears. Now, I'm not saying Copper Blue is better but as I've gotten older lo-fi albums have become a chore to listen to. There are exceptions of course--Hello, Double Nickels on the Dime!--but as much as I love Bee Thousand I'd rather listen to Mag Earwhig or Isolation Drills.

Devolver Cornwallace said...

Not uncool...UNFORGIVEABLE!!

Kiko Jones said...

To each, his or her own...

DigMeOut said...

Listen to a podcast review of Copper Blue by Sugar on Dig Me Out at, a weekly podcast dedicated to revisiting lost, forgotten, overlooked and under-appreciated rock of the 1990s.