Audio Lore

A Positive Music Blog

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Out of the Vaults # 24 - SUGAR -File Under Easy Listening (Deluxe Edition)

My wife dives into our CD cabinets (The Vaults) and randomly pull out one of the thousands of  CDs. The chosen album will then be given to me and I will talk about the CD for awhile no matter how good, bad, obscure or embarrassing the chosen disc is. Where did I buy it, when did I buy it, what was my first reaction to hearing it, do I still listen to it today etc, etc, etc

One of the things I dislike the most in the world is when people say "Thanks Obama". After 11 years it's just not funny anymore, Whenever someone says it, I cringe. It wasn't too funny to begin but when all those years ago the expression first began popping up it would always give me a little laugh, reminding me of something that happened many years before, 

It was 1992, Husker Du's singer/guitarist Bob Mould had new band called Sugar. I hated them so much. Hated them with a passion.And this was before I had even heard a single note.

The reason why I hated Sugar so much was because I wanted Bob Mould to make up with drummer Grant Hart, grab bassist Greg Norton and do Husker Du reunion. Over the past couple of years Bob Mould had released two solo albums, Black Sheets of Rain and Workbook. They were okay albums but didn't have the buzz saw sound of Husker Du, who's back catalog was always in heavy rotation on my stereo.

Bob Nould (Center) with drummer Malcolm Travis (left) and bassist Dave Barbe (right)
Sugar was going to play the 9:30 club in Washington, D.C. and they didn't even have an album out. Their 7" on Bob's  Singles Only Label (S.O.L.) may have been released already but I can't remember. I planned to go to the show but would be doing so “under protest”. I was hoping they would slip in a Husker Du song or two.

The show was so loud. I don't mind loud but this show was so loud if Sugar had released any recordings it would have been  impossible to tell what song was being played anyway. Still I was pretty sure there weren't any Husker Du songs performed that night. When the show was over I managed to grab one of the set lists. There weren't any Husker Du songs listed on it.

Usually after concerts my ears would clear up within an hour or so. This Sugar show was so loud the next day my ears still had a muffled buzz going on.

"Your Favorite Thing" single
At the time I had a summer job  at a warehouse counting maps.The maps consisted of random things from highway trucking routes to electrical systems in buildings all over the United States   A team of two people would have a list of maps they needed to retrieve ("pick") for an order. Once they had them they would bring them over to me and this other guy who would count them out, wrap them in rubber bands, and box them up to be sent out. About half the warehouse was filled with workers from the temp agency. It was a monotonous job but we made the most of it by having rubber band battles, talking about music and telling each other jokes and stories.

Each day at lunch time there would be a ring over the loudspeaker to let everyone know it was time for lunch. Then after a half an hour there was another ring  saying it was time to go back to work. The day after the Sugar show my boxing partner had called out of work so I was working by myself and honestly getting more stuff done than if I was chatting away with my absent coworker.

That day my ears were buzzing so loud from the show I missed both of the rings.
Flier from a show just a few days after the one in D.C.
When I saw the other workers coming back from lunch  I realized  I would now have to wait until the end of the day before I could get something to eat. Ten minutes later when one of the picking teams brought over an order of maps, one of them asked where I had been during the lunch break. I told him what had happened and ended the story with "Thanks Bob Mould".

Soon that became the catch phrase of the summer. Whenever something went wrong we would say "Thank you Bob Mould".

A couple month later Sugar released their first album Copper Blue. Although it was a very good album I still wasn't over my desire for a Husker Du reunion. Almost immediately after Copper Blue Sugar released a mini album called Beaster. This was more like it. Buzz saw guitars all over the place. Then in 1994 Sugar released their final album File Under Easy Listening before Bob once again decided it was time for the band to call it a day. F.U.E.L was more of a continuation of Copper Blue. Good music with full of hooks under Bob's guitars.

 But it still wasn't Husker Du. 

Eventually I traded the discs back to a used CD store. They also released a collection of b-sides called Besides which I am pretty sure I never picked up. 

File Under Easy Listening Deluxe Edition
In 2012 Merge Records released two deluxe Sugar CD collections. The first was a triple disc containing Copper Blue, Beaster, and Live at the Caberet Metro.The second  a double disc containing File Under Easy Listening with some b-Sides, and The Joke Isn't Always On Us, Sometimes, a live disc which was originally included with the first 25,000 copies of Besides.

On a whim I picked up both of the reissues and discovered a new fondness for the band. I guess I had finally come to terms with the idea there was never going to be a Husker Du reunion. To this day both deluxe disc sets remain in my regular rotation. It's also great to finally be able hear a Sugar live show without my ears buzzing for days. 

Thanks Bob Mould

Here is the video for F.U.E.L.'s "Gee Angel"


  1. I had a similar muffled hearing (loss?) experience after seeing Sugar on the f.u.e.l tour.
    All three releases as fresh and vital to me now as they were when they were released!
    Great memory of a great time, Josh, I look forward to reading many more blog posts ( especially if they're about Bob!).

    1. Here's one from a few years back

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