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Baker's Dozen

Flip Your Wig: Bob Mould's Favourite Albums
Nick Hutchings , June 18th, 2014 10:55

With his new, eleventh solo album Beauty & Ruin just released, the Hüsker Dü and Sugar man gives Nick Hutchings his top 13 records

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Following the publication of See A Little Light, Bob Mould's 2011 autobiography, the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles hosted a tribute show, where the likes of Dave Grohl, Ryan Adams and No Age acknowledged their debt to Mould by playing from his back catalogue of three almost separate careers with Hüsker Dü, Sugar and his solo output. Stretching back to Hüsker Dü's first gig in New York City, when Mould let out one of his characteristic cathartic yelps, indicative of the hundred miles-an-hour, full disclosure nature of the landmark Minneapolis band, he's come to terms with his legacy to the alternative music scene; not so much a godfather to grunge as its sometimes kindly, sometimes irascible uncle.

Talking to Mould now, shortly before the release of his brand new solo album, Beauty & Ruin, I felt like I'd known him for years, and our conversation racked up a few, moving from the old days to his recent busy schedule. In 2012, when he reissued the Sugar albums and played Copper Blue in full, I saw him play in-store at Rough Trade East in London, with the moment when he looked around and advised many of his greyer-haired fans against stage diving later at the Hammersmith Apollo serving as a gentle reminder of his longevity. Hot on the heels of that came a new album, Silver Age, and if he was feeling his years, that record showed he hadn't lost any of his rage.

This year he reissued his first solo album, Workbook, marking its 25th anniversary. Candidly he told me: "Boy those songs are hard. The mechanics, the articulation of the parts, the different voices. I can't sing that high any more - I can't play that well any more. My playing's gotten really lazy, I try and keep it simple these days, going back to that fingerpicking, really accurate phrasing I don't like that."

Back to the present and Beauty & Ruin, itself a very expansive set. "It's much wider, deeper, got a lot more going on, a real wide variety of tempo," says Mould of the album. "The song cycle is much more thought out - it's less of a party and more of a big statement. I think it's growth - some people are gonna think, 'Oh, you went back to that thing'; well, I am that thing - at the risk of sounding like I'm tooting my own horn too much, I've actually done that a couple of times before".

If Mould seems comfortable in his own skin, it's perhaps for the first time. He joked that when he met his hero William Burroughs he had been taking notes on how to enjoy later life. "In the 90s, spending time with him in Lawrence, Kansas and just watching how he was surrounded by people that really helped him enjoy the end of his times: kept him informed, kept him engaged, kept him protected from the wrong people even to the point where he had his main house and would eventually annexe the adjacent properties to eventually create something like a bunker, similar to 222 Bowery."

Cheekily I suggested that his current band mates, Jon Wurster of Superchunk and Jason Narducy, did this for him. "I think so, we all work together well. We have a great time. The great thing about working with them: we all live in different cities, similar to Sugar, so when we get together it's an occasion, you know, to make a record is like, 'Yeah, we're gonna get together to do this thing.'"

Discussing his Baker's, our conversation turns first to Mould's stack of 7"s from the 60s that he often gorges himself on - on one record by Free, the grooves are so worn he can hear the next song bleeding in - and, after deliberation of his album choices and some suggested but summarily tossed out, including Cheap Trick's In Color and The Who Sell Out ("we don't wanna go there, that's too easy"), we were in…

Beauty & Ruin is out now on Merge Records, with Mould currently on tour in Canada and the U.S.; head to his website for full details. Click on his image below to begin scrolling through Bob's choices


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William Alves
Jun 18, 2014 3:40pm

Pretty straightforward, pretty normal. Nick did not press him to put some Actress or Flying Lotus?

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Jun 18, 2014 5:41pm

"How about one guilty pleasure?"

I'd say Foo Fighters is a pretty guilty pleasure too, heh.

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Jun 18, 2014 6:11pm

In reply to Jeff:

spot on...

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Jun 18, 2014 6:25pm

this is why bob mould is so great...he can take things so everyday and worn and make them shine. a real storyteller and one of the great americian songwriters.

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Jun 18, 2014 6:41pm

He seems to like bands that make a watered down version of a genre he helped to create.

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Jun 18, 2014 8:22pm

Really enjoyed reading that. Thanks again Quietus. Still waiting for that Autechre Baker’s Dozen though ;-)

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John Deol
Jun 18, 2014 9:23pm

Great article

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Jun 18, 2014 10:20pm

Wow, to read Bob Mould talk about the obvious influences (Beatles, Byrds, etc.), and then to talk about electronic music (The Avalanches, Daft Punk, Sasha and Digweed) - that really, really surprised me. I wonder if he's heard Burial? In one of his very rare interviews, Burial talked about his favorite tracks, which one can imagine were all garage and dubstep tracks - except for one: Husker Du's Chartered Trips. At any rate, Zen Arcade's one of my favorite albums ever...

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Jun 19, 2014 4:44am

Wait why can't he listen to New Order?

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Jun 19, 2014 6:39am

Some really pleasant surprises on here - especially Garbage and Foos.

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Jun 19, 2014 9:01am

In reply to Auteur55:

Probably because, after Power Corruption & Lies, every record they made was/is a complete joke?

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Jun 19, 2014 11:22am

Americans seem to constantly rave about Loveless whereas on this side of the world
the tendency is to prefer Isn't Anything, at least among people who followed music closely in the late 80s. Also, is Bob getting his dates mixed up? Glider came out in early 1990 and Discovery in 2001.

Anyway, Husker Du were the best American band of the 80s. Zen through to Warehouse are all sensational records and would love to see young people hear them properly through deluxe reissues if it ever happens. I'll stick with my SST hard as a rock gatefold vinyl copy of Zen Arcade! New Day Rising and Flip Your Wig are phenomenal albums. Sugar was essentially watered down Husker in my view. Not even close to Husker's brilliance. J Mascis put it best when he said Sugar was "grunge for adults".

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Liberty Belle
Jun 19, 2014 2:09pm

In reply to Deiseboy:

Totally disagree. Copper Blue & Beaster are great great albums. FUEL not so much.

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Jun 19, 2014 3:24pm

Funny a clown who's made more than his share of dogshit dance influenced solo records can't listen to New Order... ooops. Of course, he's the same guy who hasn't made a decent ROCK record since SST was respectable so... "Pro" wrestling is love though, right! Fuck the Beatles.

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Jun 19, 2014 3:25pm

What do we mean "we," white man? Garbage! Foo Fighters! Bob Mould gives happy bears a VERY bad name!

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Jun 19, 2014 3:27pm

Dipshit from Mpls and no Prince, huh? Same people who don't listen to Prince thank Husker's Warner Bros records are better than dogshit too, small world.

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You're Illiterate
Jun 19, 2014 5:38pm

In reply to Camille:

I have no idea what you're trying to say.

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Juan Carlos Whyte
Jun 21, 2014 5:11am

No Replacements?

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Sicky Billis
Jun 21, 2014 6:37pm

Is this the same story that ran in Nylon Guys? Double dipping: one story two cheques!

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John Doran
Jun 21, 2014 9:17pm

In reply to Sicky Billis:

No it's not. I don't know who the Nylon Guys are but this article has only appeared here. What is probably confusing you is that when Bob Mould is asked what his favourite albums are by other publications he probably tells them as well what his favourite albums are, meaning that they will be the same albums. YOU FUCKING MUPPET.

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John Doran
Jun 21, 2014 9:20pm

In reply to John Doran:

Unless of course someone's ripped our article off in which case you have my unreserved apology and someone else is about to receive a phone call.

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Jun 22, 2014 3:47pm

In reply to John Doran:

You're completely correct. My mistake. Apologies.

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John Doran
Jun 22, 2014 5:44pm

In reply to :

That's ok, and I'm sorry for shouting. I am mentally ill and depressed - not that it's a valid excuse for beastly behaviour.

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Jun 22, 2014 9:31pm

No Buzzcocks?? =/

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Jul 5, 2014 4:38am

"or that jam - the 13-minute thing - 'Dreams Reoccurring'.

We did an hour-long version of that in Norman, Oklahoma, just one note, that was kind of like a Glenn Branca thing to do. It's fun."

Please tell me there's a recording of this!?

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Mar 22, 2015 5:29am

Love bob!!

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