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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


My Bloody Valentine - Loveless
Oh my god, what a period of time. Two of my favourite bands were also on Creation at the time [alongside Sugar] - the Valentines but also Swervedriver. And they were very different but both great bands. That was a great time. That was when the music industry was on fire. Never will there be that much importance and focus put on popular music again in such a focused way. In the early 90s, there were three weekly papers - everybody knew everybody. Creation had so many things - the Primals and then Oasis and then it got mad after that and then Alan [McGee] let go possession of the label and then things went as they were, and out of that other things come.

Loveless. Yeah, in my top three. A unique record - nothing will come close to that record. I've read countless volumes about the record, I've spent time with Kevin Shields - it seems like it was a lot of work and a lot of tumult was happening in their lives, a lot of experimentation, a lot of happy accidents. When I heard that record I was coming back from a gig with Abbo [Steve Abbott, Big Cat record label boss] and Heather Frith [support act]. It had just came out, late '91, and we popped that record in from start to finish - I'd never heard music sound like that before, the density and the melody.

It had all the ear-marks of things that I love about music and things I do with music, but it just sounded so unique. It had the touchstones, I could hear them right away - you just don't even want to think about it when you're in the moment like that - "Oh, they listened to…" 'cause we do that game with music. As I get older I try to not do that, 'cause it's easy. What does it sound like? "You know, it's a little bit like Astral Weeks, meets Bookends with this kind of…". So I try and do this thing - it's four people, it's male and female vocals together, dense guitars, a lot of tremolo, a lot of effects, a lot of things going in and out of pitch. When you stand in this position in the room it sounds one way, when you stand in another it sounds the other way - it never sounds the same way twice. 

I remember Kevin trying to describe different parts of the process to me and I was just mind-boggled - I mean I knew everything he was saying, but I was like, "Really - this much was happening?" Things like Bilinda [Butcher]'s vocals were so quiet that she'd be really close to the microphone and a lot of that craziness that you perceive is headphone leakage in the microphone - between the verse and the bridge when she stops and it's just like phssswh! It just builds on itself and you can't plan that stuff. You cannot repeat it. Everybody's tried. I tried, they tried. Everybody tries, it's good.

I think we did the ethereal psychedelic stuff with Zen Arcade, the extemporaneous pieces - doesn't the record start with the snippet of it backwards and ends with the whole thing forwards? That's the prologue/epilogue that all good records should have. There were other records, like Sonic Youth's Daydream Nation that really stretched out and was more experimental. Maybe that's the reason people always go back to Zen Arcade as this really landmark thing - it was a record where we really had room to stretch out. The records that followed it - New Day Rising was sort of quick and dirty, "let's not think about how good this record is", too long, and then Flip Your Wig was me and Grant [Hart] taking charge and making a pop record, which is still my favourite Hüsker Dü record - so concise, but that band never had that same experimentation after that.

You should have seen me on the Saturday when the new one [mbv] came out. I was sitting there pressing refresh, refresh, trying to get the fucking thing - only earlier that day they let everyone know and they were in Korea getting ready to do rehearsals for something.

Loveless has a profound impact on me. I still enjoy it every time I hear it. It's a great record, really a masterpiece. And the new record, I sat there until I was able to connect with their website and download it and put it on my studio computer and just sat there and listened to it, and listened to it again. It was funny with the new record, I think I understood it pretty quick. It was like there were three different suites of music: nine songs, three chunks of three songs that were maybe conceived in different periods, 'cause there was stuff that sounded like what I bet was the '95 jungle stuff, and this sounds like it could have been inspired by right after Loveless, like the Glider EP.