Bob Mould (guitar, vocals, and occasionally keyboards and percussion)
David Barbe (bass, vocals)
Malcolm Travis (drums,other percussion).
Mixing Engineer - Lou Giordano (tracks: 2-5) /Producer - Bob Mould (tracks: 1) , Lou Giordano (tracks: 1) Recording Engineer - Timothy Powell (tracks: 2-5)
Tracks 2-5: recorded live July 22, 1992 at Cabaret Metro, Chicago, IL
01 A Good Idea (3:47)
02 Helpless (2:49)
03 Where Diamonds Are Halos (4:13)
04 Slick (4:27)
05 Armenia City In The Sky (3:20)
Link to download:
HELPLESS EP (1992)
02 Needle Hits E
03 If I Can't Change Your Mind (solo mix)
04 Try Again
Link to download:
Bass - David Barbe/ Drums, Percussion - Malcolm Travis /Engineer - Bob Mould , Lou Giordano /Guitar, Vocals, Keyboards, Percussion - Bob Mould/ Mastered By - Howie Weinberg/ Mixed By [Assistant] - Tom Bender /Producer - Bob Mould , Lou Giordano
01 The Act We Act (5:10)
02 A Good Idea (3:47)
03 Changes (5:01)
04 Helpless (3:05)
05 Hoover Dam (5:27)
06 The Slim (5:14)
07 If I Can't Change Your Mind (3:18)
08 Fortune Teller (4:27)
09 Slick (4:59)
10 Man On The Moon (4:32)
Link to download:
"For Bob Mould, forming his new band Sugar and recording COPPER BLUE, the group's Rykodisc debut, was like "starting again at zero." After two critically acclaimed, darkly introspective solo albums, following nearly a decade as guitarist with the legendary hardcore band Husker Du, Mould was ready for a new beginning. Armed with an exceptionally diverse body of musical expertise, a new batch of songs, ex-Zulus' drummer Malcolm Travis, and Athens, Georgia, native bassist David Barbe, Mould took the plunge. The result, COPPER BLUE, is perhaps Mould's best recording since the mid-eighties, combining the dense, melodic noise of his previous recordings with a sharp, bright, hypnotic musicality. Surging with melody, the album's ten songs are simultaneously coarse and beautiful, a spontaneous, appealing blast of sound. On songs like "Hoover Dam," "Slick," and "Man On The Moon," Mould's satirical, sometimes nonsensical lyrics create a counterpoint to the songs' evocative melodies and fierce delivery. Yet tracks like "Changes" and "The Slim" are as dark as anything he's ever written. While the opening "The Act We Act" may hark band to his formative years with Husker Du, tracks like "A Good Idea" (a thinly disguised tribute to the Pixies), the boppy acoustic "If I Can't Change Your Mind" and the late-night finale "Man in the Moon" are far different from the work of his former band.
New Musical Express voted COPPER BLUE 1992's Album of the Year; Spin ranked it at #6 in its Top 20 Albums, and the Village Voice Pazz & Jop Critics' Poll placed it at #7. Bolstered by the success of singles like the irresistible "Helpless," the quirkier "Good Idea," and the Top 40 crossover "If l Can't Change Your Mind," the album sold over 350,000 copies, setting the stage for a successful world tour and for BEASTER, the band's next release."
"How ironic that after years fronting the hugely influential but desperately overlooked Hüsker Dü, Bob Mould's first project with new band Sugar, 1992's Copper Blue, would become the most commercially successful project of his career. Of course, it was released just as the seeds sown by his former band were bearing bountiful fruits in the post-Nirvana alternative nation, which provided ample explanation for its phenomenal success. But Sugar were well deserving of their success, regardless of time and place. A more aggressive, contemporary guitar attack aside, stunning power punk masterpieces like "The Act We Act," "The Slim," and "Fortune Teller" bear all of the vintage Mould musical traits: tell-tale lyrics, great hooks, and snappy melodies. It's all underpinned by that unexplainable, chilling tension between innocent beauty and dark melancholy that fans came to expect from Mould, and topped by his somewhat nasal, almost timid vocal harmonies. Other highlights include the '60s-style "If I Can't Change Your Mind," the loud, beautiful guitars of "Man on the Moon" and "Helpless," and the tongue-in-cheek Pixies tribute "A Good Idea.""
"Every once in a while, an album comes along that is simply too good for words. This is the crowning achievement of the man who, arguably more than any other, inspired grunge, for better or for worse. (I lean strongly toward the latter, and the blistering "I Hate Alternative Rock" from Mould's eponymous release three albums after this one makes me think he might agree.) Never mind "Nevermind." If it's not heresy to suggest, something got lost in translation somewhere between Husker Du and Nirvana. _Copper Blue_ is how it should have been done all along."
"When I first listened to this CD I was amazed by the great music, complex wall of sounds, and intelligent lyrics. My music friends and I once declared that Bob Mould was god due to this CD. Listen to the complex guitar riffs in "Good Idea," or the calliope-like sound on "Hoover Dam." This music rocks, and really kept my energy flowing while I was working out on the treadmill, stairclimber and exercise bike. The only thing that mystifies me is why this cd never got the attention and recognition it deserved. Maybe the band's name - Sugar - was a total misnomer for such powerful music. Anyway, about a year ago I lost the CD and after accepting the fact that it was really lost for good, bought it again. Its great to hear it all over again. So I've bought this CD twice and it was worth the price each time."
"I once saw Bob Mould being interviewed about the success of his then new band Sugar, which, for him, was a fairly radical departure from Husker Du, a band originally known for thrash metal (although they did get slightly more mainstream in later albums). Mould responded that he was pleased to discover that he could write really good pop songs. With the excellent "Copper Blue," Mould demonstrated, in a big way, how he could craft a "pop song" to give it a harder edge, as well as how talented he was on both electric and acoustic guitar. His band-mates, David Barbe on bass and Malcom Travis on drums, were now slouches either.
I guess I first heard of Sugar when I heard the song "If I Can't Change Your Mind" on an alternative rock station. As it turned out, that song turned out to be only my sixth favorite on the album. In the glory days of vinyl records, classic rock stations would play "perfect album sides." There were some records that clearly had two of those (think "Born to Run" and "Who's Next"), whereas other albums had that one "perfect" side, clearly better than the other (e.g. side one of "Led Zeppelin IV," or side two of The Moody Blues' "Days of Future Passed"). If "Copper Blue" were a record, side one ("The Act We Act" through "Hoover Dam") would, in my view, fit into the category of a "perfect album side" The second half isn't bad either, but not really comparable to what precedes it.
The album literally blasts off with the first four songs, which deliberately have little space between them, and really must be listened to together for the full effect. (When I saw Sugar at a small N.Y.C. venue, they started off the concert by playing Copper Blue's first four songs without pause). If you notice, each progressive song ("The Act We Act," "A Good Idea," "Changes," and "Helpless") become slightly less hard and more melodic, almost as if Mould wants to show off his entire spectrum right from the start. I just love how the sound then morphs into the almost Beatlesque "Hoover Dam," which is almost like a sing-a-long about a tourist's contemplative moment while "standing at the edge of the Hoover Dam." If I had to make a choice, "Hoover Dam" tops my list as the best Sugar song.
Although I don't like the second half of the CD as much, I do think "Slim," "If I Can't Change Your Mind," and "Fortune Teller" are just fine, although the last two tracks ("Slick" and "Man on the Moon") are inferior to the rest of the album. Overall though, "Copper Blue" holds up extremely well with age, and has remained one of the most played albums in my collection.
First footnote: After hearing "Copper Blue," I tried to listen to Husker Du and some of Bob Mould's solo work. I just couldn't get into these, other than a few songs on some of the later Husker Du albums. Parts of "Zen Arcade" sounded like sheer noise to me, but, to be fair, I never grew accustomed to this style of rock.
Second footnote: One previous reviewer heard a similarity between "Hoover Dam" and Squeeze's "Tempted." Comparisons between songs are something that I try to listen for, and indeed the tune corresponding to the line "Standing on the edge of the Hoover Dam," does sound similar to the tune corresponding to the line "Tempted by the fruit of another." But the rest of the song is quite different, and I think "Hoover Dam" is a much more exciting song. (I'll give you another interesting comparison that I recently noticed: compare Roxy Music's "Both Ends Burning" to the Soup Dragons' "Drive the Pain," which are both terrific songs)."
Bass - David Barbe/ Drums, Percussion - Malcolm Travis /Engineer, Producer - Bob Mould , Lou Giordano Guitar, Keyboards, Percussion, Vocals - Bob Mould /Mastered By - Howie Weinberg
01 Come Around (4:51)
02 Tilted (4:08)
03 Judas Cradle (6:15)
04 JC Auto (6:13)
05 Feeling Better (6:22)
06 Walking Away (3:00)
Link to download:
"Truth to tell, Beaster is more than a simple EP. It's really a six song album, and among one of the finest albums ever recorded. The four song set that takes up the middle portion of the album (bookcased by two swirling dreampop pieces) are the rawest, most naked songs Bob Mould, or anyone else for that matter, has ever recorded. Yet the music is stunningly beautiful and elegantly produced. Aching melodies are discernible from all the guitar feedback, and Mould's lyrics are his most pointed ever, crying out to deserting lovers, parents, and Jesus Christ himself. As with the best of Mould's music, there's a constant paradox: the lyrics are relentlessly bitter and bleak, but the music is hopeful by contrast, the salvation of the lyrics' despair. As an album, Beaster is a living, pulsating catharsis. It's impossible to turn off once it's been turned on, and on the best stereo systems it can be cranked up to become an incredible sonic force. I've never owned a better album. I've never tired of it (and I've only given one other album on here five stars). It is singularly brilliant. But, if you want to get down to the basics of it, the album flat out ROCKS harder than any album from the 90's. It's a towering achievement. Essential."
"Beaster is the darker, angrier little brother to Sugar's brilliant debut album, Copper Blue. As filled with vitriol as anything Bob Mould has done since Zen Arcade-era Husker Du, Beaster is an altogether more complex can of worms. At first glance it seems to be concerned with religious anger (a not-uncommon theme for dark, angry albums) but the reality is that this cleaves close to the Mould songbook: it's about relationships. It uses religious imagery to cast roles within relationships in clearer light (ever felt betrayed by a kiss?).It starts with the droning hypnotic "Come Around" and ends similarly with "Walking Away", but these are there more as endcaps to the four song centerpiece. Coming on the heels of "Come Around" "Tilted" is a barreling, pummeling brute of a song, arriving at high velocity and maintaining speed to its squalling, feedback-drenched conclusion. The noise turns to sludge as "Judas Cradle" lurches forth, with Mould screaming to open and bellowing throughout. Malcom Travis' pounding drumbeat announces the more-propulsive-but-still-thick "JC Auto". Mould's vocals continue to outstrip all-comers in the intensity department & the chords are thick. "Feeling Better" does indeed feel better, almost strutting with a loose confidence, maybe not joyous but certainly filled with exuberance.
Few bands or songwriters could say as much with the (seemingly obligatory) seventy minutes possible on a cd. This is all of 32 minutes. And, might I add, the tour supporting it was the most ungodly loud thing I've EVER heard. My ears rang for two weeks. I was still grinning when they stopped."
FILE UNDER: EASY LISTENGING (1994)
Drums - Malcolm Travis/ Engineer - Jim Wilson/ Mastered By - Howie Weinberg/ Producer - Bob Mould Vocals, Bass - David Barbe /Vocals, Guitar - Bob Mould /Written By - Bob Mould (tracks: 1, 3 to 10)
02 Company Book
03 Your Favorite Thing
04 What You Want It To Be
05 Gee Angel
06 Panama City Motel
07 Can't Help You Anymore
08 Granny Cool
09 Believe What You're Saying
10 Explode And Make Up
Link to download:
"Sugar is basically made up of ex-Husker Du guitar and vocalist Bob Mould. Sugar's "File Under: Easy Listening" is a pretty intense record musically - it's essentially just noisy hard rockin' guitars that more or less overshadow the vocals. You can still hear the singer, but you definitely will have no idea what he's saying a good amount of the time. Even though the album is essentially just a bunch of noise, you can still pick out a great sense of melody, rhythm and beat here. I don't have any idea who else to compare Sugar too, so that's a good thing I suppose. I honestly have no idea what else to say here except that most of the songs sound pretty similar to one another. The standout tracks are easily "Gee Angel" and "Your Favorite Thing" as they have "hit" written all over them, though every song here is very good. It's not a classic, but it comes close (I would argue that it's not because all the songs sound relatively similar, and the singer's voice isn't perfect). All in all, however, this is still highly recommended!
Highlights include: the entire album!"
"Sugar shot like a meteor across the musical sky. It burned bright and fast and not many saw it, but the few who did are destined to spend the rest of their days sharing their experience with anyone who will bother to listen. Such was the brief career of Sugar.After the dynamic COPPER BLUE and the ferocious BEASTER, FILE UNDER: EASY LISTENING was a bit of a letdown. Nevertheless, it still has more than its fair share of classic Sugar songs including the poppy "Your Favorite Thing" (which borrows slightly from My Bloody Valentine's "Blown A Wish"), the singalong "Believe What You're Saying," the dramatic "Explode and Make Up," and the clever toetapper "Gee Angel." David Barbe steps up front (for better or worse) with "Company Book," which, if nothing else, did prove once and for all that Sugar was more than "Bob Mould and The Two Other Guys."
Ultimately, though, Sugar will be best remembered for COPPER BLUE and BEASTER and rightfully so. While FU:EL has plenty of pop, it has very little of the conviction and intensity that made those two albums so memorable. In the meteoric career of Sugar, FU:EL was little more than a vapor trail."
"While certainly not as good as "Copper Blue," "File Under: Easy Listening," nevertheless, stands up on its own. I enjoyed reading the fifteen prior reviews, because they're all over the place for what I consider to be an all-around solid album. Additionally, no one seems to agree with me that "Panama City Motel" is clearly the best track on the album, and as good as anything on "Copper Blue."
FU: EL consists of a number of good songs ("Gift," "Company Book," "Believe What You're Saying," and "Explode and Make Up"); one very good song ("Your Favorite Thing" -- elevated by that catchy guitar riff); and one great song (the aforementioned "Panama City Motel"). The album flows well, and is alot more accessible than the preceding "Beaster." As I've said with other bands I've already reviewed, I can't understand why Mould would disband Sugar at this point, after only two albums and an E.P. (and a "B-Sides" album, which doesn't really count), and go solo with largely inferior releases.
I wanted to talk about two songs. First, "Company Book" is the only David Barbe offering for the band (I understand the B-Sides album has others). Although not as good a songwriter or singer as bandmate Mould (and, indeed, most of the previous reviewers don't like this song), I still think Barbe has something to offer, and I would have liked to hear other Barbe songs on future albums that were not to be. In sparse lyrics, Barbe tells of the conformist life of a long-time "company man," with the concluding stanza: "In the epilogue the company man/ Takes his company life with his company hands/ In his revelation he decrees/ Extinction of faceless robots like himself/ Spawned from the company book." Not bad.
As I've mentioned, I feel "Panama City Motel" ranks among the best of Sugar's offering. Like the superb "Hoover Dam" (which, if I had to choose, is my favorite song on "Copper Blue"), the story within the song is told from the perspective of a tourist, this time one without much money in his pocket. Mould's harmonies with himself and acoustic guitar playing were never better. I just love the refrain every time I hear it, about bargaining for a cheap hotel room: "But senor I only have ten dollars/ Can't you give me a room for the night?/ We argue about currency and then/ He says I can stay for the night/ In this Panama City Motel/ I am out on the freeway again." Almost a vignette as opposed a rock song.
Please Sugar, re-unite!"
Engineer - Jim Wilson (tracks: 1.9 to 1.14) /Mastered By [Compilation] - Toby Mountain (tracks: 1.1 to 1.17)/ Mastered By [Original] - Howie Weinberg (tracks: 1.1 to 1.17) /Mixed By - David Barbe (tracks: 2.1 to 2.18) , Jim Wilson (tracks: 1.15 to 1.17) , Lou Giordano (tracks: 1.4 to 1.5, 1.7 to 1.8) , Tom Lewis (tracks: 2.1 to 2.18)/ Producer - Bob Mould (tracks: 1.1 to 1.3, 1.6, 1.9 to 1.14) , Lou Giordano (tracks: 1.1 to 1.3, 1.6)/ Recorded By - Timothy Powell (tracks: 1.4 to 1.5, 1.7 to 1.8) , Wally Fleming (tracks: 1.15 to 1.17, 2.1 to 2.18)
Besides contains a QuickTime version of the video for the File Under:Easy Listening track "Gee Angel." that is playable on both Macintosh and Windows.
The bonus disc titled, The Joke Is Always On Us, Sometimes, is a concert from the 02 Nov 1994 show at First Avenue, Minneapolis, Minnesota from which Gee Angel's (Rykodisc RCD5 1040) live b-sides (tracks 1.15 - 1.17) come from.
Tracks 1.4, 1.5, 1.7 & 1.8 recorded 22 Jul 1992 at Cabaret Metro, Chicago
01 Needle Hits E (3:21)
02 If I Can't Change Your Mind (Solo Mix) (3:21)
03 Try Again (4:42)
04 Where Diamonds Are Halos (Live) (4:17)
05 Armenia City In The Sky (Live) (3:26)
06 Clownmaster (3:20)
07 Anyone (Live) (2:43)
08 JC Auto (Live) (6:02)
09 Believe What You're Saying (Campfire Mix) (3:52)
10 Mind Is An Island (3:39)
11 Frustration (5:20)
12 Going Home (2:41)
13 In The Eyes Of My Friends (3:35)
14 And You Tell Me (5:03)
15 After All The Roads Have Led To Nowhere (Live) (3:21)
16 Explode And Make Up (Live) (4:41)
17 The Slim (Live) (6:26)
01 Gift (4:11)
02 Company Book (3:27)
03 Hoover Dam (3:08)
04 After All The Roads Have Led To Nowhere (3:41)
05 Where Diamonds Are Halos (4:20)
06 Slick (4:03)
07 Going Home (2:13)
08 Running Out Of Time (2:28)
09 Frustration (4:37)
10 Changes (3:43)
11 Can't Help You Any More (2:58)
12 Helpless (3:03)
13 If I Can't Change Your Mind (3:04)
14 In The Eyes Of My Friends (3:11)
15 Clownmaster (2:43)
16 Gee Angel (4:17)
17 Explode And Make Up (4:39)
18 The Slim (8:36)
Links to donwload:
"There is an elite group of artists in the world whose B-sides, the so-called "throwaways" that for some reason didn't make it on to their albums, stand with anything on those albums. Bob Mould is just such an artist. BESIDES collects the studio cuts and live tracks that backed the singles from COPPER BLUE and FILE UNDER: EASY LISTENING. From the studio gem "Needle Hits E," to scorching live versions of "JC Auto," the Who's "Armenia City In The Sky, and the harrowing "The Slim," BESIDES completes the picture of Sugar with the hard melody of the studio and raw emotion of the live stage. It also provides more insight into the songwriting talents of bassist David Barbe, who is represented by four tracks, including "Where Diamonds Are Halos" and "Frustration."
A must for fans, BESIDES is also powerful evidence that there is even more to Sugar than can be fit into an album or captured in the studio.
BESIDES also features a special bonus. The CD contains an extra CD-ROM track, containing a QuickTime version of the video for the track File Under:Easy Listening track "Gee Angel." The video is accessible on both Macintosh and Windows machines, provided that they are properly configured for CD Plus."
"This is good, solid stuff! It's hard to believe that these are B-sides, although there are some that are much better than others. What I always liked about Sugar, is that they never got flashy or over-produced. They just play great music, and that's the case with most of this CD too. It definitely has its strong parts: "Needle," "If I can't Change Your Mind," "Believe" but this is worth having. The funny thing is that this was my first Sugar disc. I built from here, so it was good enough to get me hooked!"
"I think it's just criminal that "Needle Hits E" was left off Copper Blue. It would have made a great album even greater. But at least we finally got it here. Mould also delivers with "Mind Is An Island," "Going Home" and "After All The Roads Have Led To Nowhere." Additionally, "Armenia City In The Sky" is an agreeably groovy cover. Probably the most illuminating aspect of this album is that it finally gave us a decent look at bassist David Barbe's songwriting abilities. For all the talk of Sugar being something more than just Bob Mould and some hired guns, the band's three proper releases up to this point had been dominated completely by Mould except for Barbe's just-OK "Company Book." Barbe has four songs on Besides, and they're all pretty good. I would argue that "In The Eyes Of My Friends" and "When Diamonds Are Halos" deserved better than a B-sides compilation. Barbe doesn't have nearly the voice that Mould does, but as long as he stays within his limited range, he sings well enough. I was never able to see Sugar live during the band's limited life, so the bonus live disc (which came with a limited number of copies) is particularly gratifying."
Sugar was an alternative rock band of the early 1990s led by former Hüsker Dü vocalist/guitarist Bob Mould. Ex-Mercyland (http://flagpole.com/Music/ThatBeatInTime/Mercyland/2006-11-22) bassist David Barbe (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercyland) and ex-Zulus/ ex-Human Sexual Response (http://www.rockinboston.com/humansex.htm) drummer Malcolm Travis rounded out the trio. Mould envisioned Sugar as a similar musical venture to Hüsker Dü except with him writing all the songs and calling all the shots. Their sound was more radio-friendly than that of Hüsker Dü, though with similarly-dark undertones.Their first live show was February 20, 1992, at the 40 Watt Club in Athens, GA, after a few weeks warming up in R.E.M.'s downtown practice space. It was a "secret" show, not advertised in the local media, bumping Athens band Roosevelt from headliner to opener. Word got out and the club was packed.Later in 1992, the band released the album Copper Blue, which was named Album Of The Year 1992 by the NME. The following year they released Beaster, an EP of darker material recorded during the Copper Blue sessions. The single "If I Can't Change Your Mind" was a moderate UK hit.After an aborted attempt to record a second full-length, the band regrouped and File Under: Easy Listening was recorded quickly in the spring of 1994, and was released that fall. A B-side collection, Besides, followed in 1995. Mould broke the band up later that year because Barbe wished to spend more time with his growing family and expand his solo career.
Travis then took over the drumming slot in the band Kustomized.
"David Barbe had become a local hero of the Athens music scene by the early '90s, recording constantly and playing in his second high- profile trio, Buzz Hungry. Another great opportunity came when former Husker Du frontman Bob Mould called. Mould, also a producer with a fondness for three-piece bands, asked Barbe to join his new trio Sugar. Surprisingly, Barbe initially declined the offer.
"It was an amazing opportunity, but I thought I should just stay at home and get a job and take care of my family," he says. "Rather than being jealous or wanting to keep me at home, Amy totally encouraged me to do it. I was still very reluctant, and Bob knew that."
Once Barbe joined Sugar in '92, even more bands wanted to record with him, and as his performing and recording ventures increased, free time for his family vanished. Sugar recorded and toured to support three albums, including Copper Blue and Beaster.
During their File Under Easy Listening tour in '94, Barbe says it was becoming increasingly obvious he needed to leave the band. "I had three children, ages 1, 3 and 5, and I really needed to be home with them. Raising children was the most important thing to me, and even though the Sugar touring was as family-friendly as possible, I was still gone a lot. What's the point of having a family if you're never together?"
When Barbe considered his future, he realized he could much more easily see himself in the control room, making records, than "acting like Mick Jagger in yellow football pants prancing around on stage, well past the point of productivity." As much fun as touring had been in the past, he says, "I had the revelation that that part of my life was coming to an end. It wasn't the point of running away from something, but walking toward something else."
When he discussed the matter with Mould, he was surprised to find that Mould also realized that his life was being consumed with being in Sugar. As producer, manager and frontman of the band, Mould worked constantly. So, the trio quietly decided to call it quits, but kept it to themselves.
"Those last few months were easily the best shows we ever played. We were finally free of having to worry about anything and just had fun." The final Sugar show, in January '95 in Japan, was heralded by a dramatic earthquake. "We started it," he jokes. "I hit a low E on the bass."
Copper Blue LP (Rykodisc, 1992)
Beaster EP (Rykodisc, 1993)
Bob's Full House (Pseudo Indie Label,1993)
File Under: Easy Listening LP (Rykodisc, 1994)
Besides compilation LP (Rykodisc, 1995)
The Joke Is Always On Us, Sometimes. Live disc, incl. w/ Besides
http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=48528325 the new band of Malcolm Travis