The Coulda-Shoulda-Woulda Files: Building The Perfect “Beaster”

Dec 27th, 2006 // 10 Comments

beastercover.jpgTime for yet another installment of the Coulda-Shoulda-Woulda Files, where we blow the dust off of a forgotten favorite and give its lack of chart success a once-over.

Artist: Sugar
Album: Beaster, 1993
What happened: Normally, we try to keep the Coulda-Shouldas to a standout track or single, but Beaster is an EP, so we may as well bend the rules a bit (besides, thanks to the holidays, we have about six readers today, which is one-half our average). Recorded during the same sessions that yielded 1992′s stone-cold perfect Copper Blue, this 30-minute song-suite angrily weds religion and romance, and it features some of Bob Mould’s most spleen-busting howls; by the end, you almost expect to hear him collapse on the floor.
Why it should have been a hit: With lyrics like “Here’s your Jesus Christ/I’m your Jesus Christ” Beaster wasn’t going to experience the same breakthrough Mould experienced with Copper Blue; it’s just too damn dark. But even at his most bleak, Mould is still a wiz at the big-guitar hooks, and “JC Auto” and “Judas Cradle” stand up with some of his finest Hüsker moments (and, like so many C-S-W entries, it can be had for a dirt-cheap price on Amazon).

Sugar – JC Auto [MP3, link expired]
Sugar – Judas Cradle [MP3, link expired]


  1. noamjamski

    Here’s a Coulda-Shoulda-Woulda: How was “Hoover Dam” from Copper Blue not the biggest song in the world? That song to me is the definition of hit single. That chorus is pure anthem, meant to play through the expanse of arena rafters.

  2. Jude

    Yep, agreed on “Hoover Dam”. Big, majestic, etc…But holy shit this thing went straight to the cut-out bin right quick. Never could understand why. Understandably, these tracks don’t really fit on Copper Blue–if only because they’re TOO sonic. This is one loud-ass e.p. I always play it. Love the way “Come Around” washes over you; the way “Feeling Better” incorporates horns(?!) and uplifts. Not to mention, “Tilted” for all its BLISTERING. A keeper.

  3. Bon Jour, Pee Wee

    What about ‘File Under Easy Listening’?

    I miss Sugar.

  4. Pop Cesspool

    This album cover predated the one for Metallica’s “Load,” didn’t it? I’ll take bloody rope over bloody sperm any day.

    (“Black Sheets Of Rain” is another tip-top Mould disc that seems all but forgotten.)

  5. Chris Molanphy

    Seriously. Right up there with the Breeders in the category of best side-projects ever. Both full-length albums were mad catchy and true ’90s alt-pop highlights. Beaster was more of a challenge but still of a piece with the other two. Never understood why Mould wouldn’t keep it going - he was bound to score a serious hit eventually.

  6. Slappy McJackass

    Maybe the best show I ever saw was Sugar on the Copper Blue tour. Damn, they were loud and awesome. (Seriously, Dinosaur Jr. is the only band I’ve ever seen that is louder.) Bob Mould had the most amazing guitar sound… The whole concert was like a coulda-shoulda-woulda showcase, Sugar headlined with Grant Lee Buffalo and Sub Pop’s underappreciated Hazel. Great, great show.

  7. J DTZR

    Didn’t “Beaster” go to #1 in England?

  8. BlimpyMcFlah

    Sugar had loadsa hits here in UKsville, but the 30 minute concept record about Jeeeeeeeeeeeesus was a bit dodgy to my mind. i got it out the libraRY and taped it. Great songs but Jesus?

  9. Feh Am Legend

    Indeed. That pretty much off all of Sugar’s output is around 2 bucks in any used bin you look at is a huge mystery to me. Explode and Make Up is the a of the great bitter breakup anthems. And, yeah, Feeling Better has a really ambitious arrangement for such a catchy song.

  10. Ned Raggett

    Easily my favorite thing Bob Mould ever did, actually. I think it’s near flawless.

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