Review: Bob Mould – Body of Song
Body of Song is a minor masterpiece. In the ever-evolving world of former Husker Du/Sugar singer/guitarist Bob Mould, sometimes you have to look back to find a reason to move forward, and Body of Song should make everyone happy except the eight CHUD who can differentiate between songs on Land Speed Record, a live version of The Emergency Broadcast Signal.
Bob has a Boblog where he details all things Bob. If you want to visit the homepage of the place Bob went last night for a Taco, check out Boblog (he’s a linker!)
Husker Du isn’t referenced directly on Body Of Song. It’s mostly Sugar and the solo albums. Sugar was a tighter late period Husker Du (Grant Hart was a loose, slappy drummer) where Bob treated his voice so it separated left and right, giving the effect of singing the track twice. On some Copper Blue tracks I swear that’s the case. File Under Easy Listening better centers the vocals. BTW, “JC Auto” on Beaster is a perfect song, Bob’s answer to the challenge of Big Black’s “Kerosene” and the fully realized bedlam hinted at here in there in the post-Husker era.
I have the first two solo albums, and I swear they sound like Gordon Lightfoot turned his amp to 11 for “The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald”, a heretofore unexplored nautical aspect to Bob’s work . Was Mike Watt an influence? (Well, was it? I’m asking.) In 2002 he released the synth-laden Modulate. Body of Sound does carry over a very few club elements but it’s not a dance record. Synths are now a common feature in what calls itself punk.
Here’s a track by track breakdown, but first, Body Of Song is great.
Circles – Bob’s untreated voice. He affirms his status as guitar god and king of the one-man wall of noise. A nice hint of sonic danger. (Shine Your) Light Love Hope – Opens with a dance counterstrike high hat beat and at first I panicked. The guitar kicks in and then it’s all good and I realize PIL did it a quarter century ago and I survived. Bob treats his voice so it sounds like he’s yodeling. My favorite track. Paralyzed – Untreated voice. Nice warm theramin sound. Bob’s best vocals. I am Vision, I Am Sound – Psychedelic like Bob playing with The Dukes Of Stratosphere. 1st album Sugar vocals. Underneath Days – Bob’s great when he belts out a note and holds it. Slight yodel in the vocals too. Nice hint of danger. Could have come from Beaster. Always Tomorrow – Untreated voice. Slight club groove feel but still nicely abrasive. A Sugar tune. Days Of Rain – Nice delay of the killer chorus. Worth the wait. Nice anvil-lite percussion and violin. Best Thing – 2nd Sugar album sound and vocals. High Fidelity – lost Sugar B-side. Bob lives in DC and I swear he got the idea for the cascading pipes from Kay Jeweler Christmas ads. The cheesy pipe organ is great. Missing You – An average Sugar track that should have been made more interesting. Gauze Of Friendship – Highly confessional lyrics with a seafaring quality to the later part. Beating Heart The Prize – Ends with a dramatic bang like Leatherface, the band that replaced Husker Du as my favorite band. Bob could have gone even more over the top on this one and I bet he will live. Great stuff.