After leaving Hüsker Dü, Bob Mould recorded two solo albums and then launched a new trio, Sugar. The two full-length Sugar albums should Mould at his poppiest, and the EP at maybe his heaviest.

For the 20th anniversary of the debut, Copper Blue, all three were reissued with bonus tracks. Almost all of the Besides collection is covered in the bonus tracks, although the "Campfire Mix" of "Believe What You're Saying" is not on these reissues. If you're a Sugar completist, hold on to Besides. If you've got the original albums, there's not a ton of music on here you don't already have. But the DVDs are a nice little upgrade, so that's really the treat here.

In the UK, all three were released separately with a bonus DVD each. In the US, Copper Blue and the Beaster EP are one release and the Beaster DVD is dropped. If you're going to upgrade, go with the imports. The DVDs are NTSC and region-free, so you'll be able to play them with no problems.

cover art
Copper Blue

Back in 1992 I wrote:

After two solo albums, Bob Mould returns to the power trio format by creating a new band, Sugar. Copper Blue kicks off with a roar ("The Act We Act"), and proceeds to deliver 10 powerful and catchy pop songs, played with post-punk power. A real highlight is a change of pace for Mould. "If I Can't Change Your Mind" is "blasted" out on acoustic guitar, backed by drums and bass. The comparison is inevitable, so I'll make it: Mould has basically recreated Hüsker Dü's roar with Mould's new cleaner solo album sound.

Along with the still-brilliant album, the reissue adds the appropriate B-sides to the first CD, including "Needle Hits E" (which is as good as anything on the album, and better than some), and the acoustic-only version of "If I Can't Change Your Mind". A terrific live session for the BBC is also included. The second CD is a blistering concert from the first Sugar tour that's been long bootlegged (it's the Cabaret Metro show from July). Even though it's been available, it's still a great choice - Sugar sounds amazing. The DVD adds three official videos and some TV appearances.

tracks: "The Act We Act", "A Good Idea", "Changes", "Helpless", "Hoover Dam", "The Slim", "If I Can't Change Your Mind", "Fortune Teller", "Slick", "Man On The Moon"

bonus tracks (B-sides): "Needle Hits E", "If I Can't Change Your Mind", "Try Again", "Clownmaster"

bonus tracks (BBC Radio Session): "If I Can't Change Your Mind", "Hoover Dam", "The Slim", "Where Diamonds Are Halos"

bonus tracks (Live at the Cabaret Metro, July 22, 1992): "The Act We Act", "A Good Idea", "Changes", "Running Out Of Time", "Helpless", "If I Can't Change Your Mind", "Where Diamonds Are Halos", "Hoover Dam", "Beer Commercial", "Slick", "Anyone", "Clownmaster", "Tilted", "Armenia City In The Sky", "JC Auto", "The Slim", "Dum Dum Boys", "Man Moon"

DVD Contents:

  • Promo videos for "Helpless", "Changes" and "If I Can't Change Your Mind"
  • TV appearances: "Helpless" (Late Show UK), and two interviews.

cover art

Back in 1993 I wrote:

After Sugar finished the Copper Blue sessions last year, they had studio time left over. They used the resulting time to record Beaster (released Easter week), a dark, powerful album full of religious imagery. The six songs build to a frenzy on the two middle cuts, "Judas Cradle" and "JC Auto" (short for Jesus Christ Autobiography), and closes down with a startling ballad "Walking Away", with just Bob Mould's vocal and a church organ for accompaniment. A solid second effort.

The Beaster reissue is the thinnest of the three. There are no bonus tracks, but the attached DVD is very good. Apart from the video for "Tilted", you get four songs from a 1993 show. Weirdly enough, none of the songs are from Beaster. Still, the performance is really good, even though it's a short clip.

YouTube: "Tilted".

tracks: "Come Around", "Tilted", "Judas Cradle", "JC Auto", "Feeling Better", "Walking Away"

DVD Contents:

  • Promo video for "Tilted"
  • Live recording from Finsbury Park, June 1993: "The Act We Act", "A Good Idea", "Changes", "The Beer Commercial"

cover art
File Under: Easy Listening

Back in 1994 I wrote:

File Under: Easy Listening (or FU:EL, get it?) is Sugar's second full-length album, and it's another doozy. After the first two songs (which are good, but nothing special), FU:EL delivers eight gems in a row. The first of these, "Your Favorite Thing", is another punk/pop masterpiece. Sugar even try lighter songs and end up giving the album more balance. FU:EL ends with "Explode And Make Up", one of the most powerful songs Bob Mould's ever come up with. It's not the loudest, but it's one of the most emotional.

The File Under: Easy Listening adds B-sides and the live album The Joke Is Always On Us, Sometimes, which was originally included in the deluxe edition of Besides, the Sugar rarities album. Like Copper Blue, the DVD consists of promo videos and TV appearances.

tracks: "Gift", "Company Book", "Your Favorite Thing", "What You Want It To Be", "Gee Angel", "Panama City Motel", "Can't Help You Anymore", "Granny Cool", "Believe What You're Saying", "Explode And Make Up"

bonus tracks (B-Sides): "Mind Is An Island", "Frustration", "Going Home", "In The Eyes Of My Friends", "And You Tell Me", "Believe What You're Saying"

bonus tracks (The Joke Is Always On Us, Sometimes): "Gift", "Company Book", "Hoover Dam", "After All The Roads Have Led To Nowhere", "Where Diamonds Are Halos", "Slick", "Going Home", "Running Out Of Time", "Frustration", "Changes", "Can't Help You Anymore", "Helpless", "If I Can't Change Your Mind", "In The Eyes Of My Friends", "Clownmaster", "Gee Angel", "Explode And Make Up", "The Slim"

DVD Contents:

  • Promo videos for "Your Favorite Thing", "Believe What You're Saying" and "Gee Angel"
  • TV appearances: Sugar profile from MTV and Bob Mould and Lou Barlow perform "Believe What You're Saying" on MTV.