Unsung Classics, Part 7
Now, before I commence, I will make the assumption that you have heard of the Foo Fighters. It’s hard not to have done so, which I believe is no bad […]
Now, before I commence, I will make the assumption that you have heard of the Foo Fighters. It’s hard not to have done so, which I believe is no bad thing; they are a great rock band who have pumped out some excellent records over the years. But if you take a moment to listen to this week’s album, you will see exactly who Dave Grohl got his ideas from; remember, good artists borrow, great artists steal.
Copper Blue by Sugar, 1992, Rykodisc
Formed by ex-Hüsker Dü frontman/guitarist Bob Mould, Sugar are one of those bands that have to be almost excavated from the annals of music history, but my, what a worthy discovery they are. During their time, Bob Mould wrote some of his finest material to date, and Copper Blue is the zenith of this power trio’s efforts. It moves on from the hardcore punk of Mould’s former band into songs that are both tightly constructed and yet utterly ecstatic explosions of melody and the loud, beautiful guitars at which Mould excels. His backing of David Barbe and Malcolm Travis on bass and drums respectively are no slouches, but it is undeniable that the star of the show here is the Hüsker alumnus, whose powerful, nasal vocals and crunching Fender Stratocaster slice through the mix.
Brisk opener ‘The Act We Act’ sets things up nicely, setting the tone for what is to come – thick, cascading guitars that growl but are shot right through with eminently hummable melodies, and of course, Mould’s bitter lyrics; “Hours slipping by as you watch / The worlds collide / Now you’re nothing more / Than another passerby.” There are plenty of outstanding rock songs here – the Pixies-esque ‘A Good Idea’, ‘Changes’, ‘Helpless’, and the snarling ‘Fortune Teller’ punch out of the speakers like lightning bolts comprised of melody and ear-snagging hooks. However, there are also enough twists and turns to prevent it from repeating itself; ‘If I Can’t Change Your Mind’ is almost Beatle-esque, while ‘Hoover Dam’ chimes along like a ballad, but with energy and skittering synths, culminating in a soaring guitar solo. The album’s closer, ‘Man On The Moon’, is such a brilliant song that it’s hard to avoid repeating it again and again, such is its sheer euphoric rush of harmonious, sky-scraping guitars and thunderous drumming.
Copper Blue is that rare beast; it is as catchy as hell, but wholly original and inspiring. And, to further the point about the Foo Fighters I made earlier, here is a quote from Mr Grohl himself, which he made at a Bob Mould tribute concert;
“If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t be making music the way I do, or play guitar the way I do.”
There you have it. So, if you’re fan of the Foos, or any rock band in that vein, or even if you just like great songwriting, then you need this album. Why, you ask? Because you’re going to love it.