Listening to Bob Mould’s second solo album, “Black Sheets of Rain,” in 1990 on the family living-room CD player whilst home from college, my mother christened Mould as “that guy who screams.” Had she heard his first solo outing, 1989’s “Workbook,” with its largely acoustic backing and meditative vocals, she might have formed a different opinion. Including his debut, Mould has made fifteen solo albums, as well as contributed songs to causes he considers worthwhile (most notably “Can’t Fight It,” his contribution to the Red Hot series, 1994’s “No Alternative”). He vacillates between acoustic, electric, and electronic approaches to his recordings, which makes sense when you consider he was the frontman of punk rockers Hüsker Dü, and has eclipsed that with his own solo work (in volume of releases if not in audio volume), and has also become a club DJ.
Mould’s way around a melody, his thoughtful lyrics and earnest, plain-spoken tenor make him an artist to see, whether in solo electric form, as he is appearing at the Old Town School of Folk Music, or with a full band (frequently including opener and local favorite Jason Narducy on bass). His “Live At ATP” recording is an important document of his band’s live show from 2008 (including a couple of Hüsker Dü numbers), and I had the pleasure of seeing him play live at Riot Fest a few years ago. But seeing him play in the comparatively intimate environment of the Old Town should be a real treat.
In his 2011 memoir, “See A Little Light: The Trail of Rage and Melody” (co-written with Michael Azerrad), he spends a lot of time on his at-first-closeted, then later fully liberated homosexuality, which also makes sense when one considers that his writing is informed by his personal relationships, and his memoir details what seems to be all of them, barring an occasional one-night stand. As he writes in the book, at the age of fifty he had “gradually got out of my handcuffs and learned how to celebrate my freedom.”
The book is a fascinating read, not only for his personal reflections on his post-Hüsker Dü output but also for his time in the band, including the machinations of record labels and managers. Most mind-blowing for me was the almost casual mention of an “extravaganza” of a show that included the Hüskers, Black Flag, D.O.A., 45 Grave and the Descendents. That would have been a helluva lineup to see back in the day.
Bob Mould’s most recent full-length record, “Blue Hearts,” was released in 2020, featuring Narducy on bass and regular accomplice Jon Wurster on drums and percussion. Mould considered all of the songs on the album to be “protest songs” and a close listen proves his point; it’s brimming with Mould’s vintage rage.
There aren’t a lot of things that would make me wear a T-shirt that says “I Heart BM” on it. Branson, Missouri perhaps, but Bob Mould for sure.
Bob Mould Solo Electric (with special guest Jason Narducy) is at Gary and Laura Maurer Concert Hall, Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 North Lincoln on October 25, 8pm. $65 general public; $63 Members. The concert is sold out; click here to be added to the waitlist.
Craig Bechtel is a freelance writer and has also been a Senior Staff Writer for Pop’stache. He is also a DJ, volunteer and Assistant Music Director for CHIRP Radio, 107.1 FM, and contributes occasionally to the CHIRP blog. As DJ Craig Reptile, you can hear him play music on the FM dial or at www.chirpradio.org most Sunday nights from 6pm to 9pm. He previously worked in radio at KVOE AM and Fox 105 in Emporia, Kansas, and served as a DJ, music director and general manager for WVKC at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, where he also won the Davenport Prize for Poetry and earned a B.A. in English writing. Craig has been working in various capacities within the hotel and meetings industry for over twenty years, and presently works at a company that uses proprietary systems to develop proven data strategies that increase revenue, room nights and meeting attendance. In his spare time, he also fancies himself an armchair herpetologist, and thus in addition to a wife, son and cat, he has a day gecko and a veiled chameleon in his collection.