There aren't too many musical artists in my lifetime who have been more underrated than Bob Mould. His output over the last 25 years has been stunningly consistent, yet other bands with nearly identical sounds always seemed to get more pub.
Husker Du of course became cult faves of college radio in the mid-1980's, but never quite achieved the popularity of fellow Minnesotans The Replacements. While I have no issue with the justified deification of Paul Westerberg, it wasn't really until I was in college that I ever knew Husker Du as anything other than "the band from the '80's with the goofy name." Honestly, in terms of cultural significance, they could have gone side by side with Scritti Politti for all I knew.
Here's an awesome YouTube discovery. Husker Du ripping though "I Apologize" from a 1985 concert in Indianapolis. That shitty "bouncing off the walls" mix could only be coming from the Patio! Part of me still wishes technology hadn't evolved in the past 10 years, because based solely on VHS audio quality, this sounds eerily close to Guilty Feat at the Emerson.
Once Mould left Husker Du, he went away from the harder edges and embraced his inner pop star with Sugar. Again, I never heard anything from this band when they were active. They were one of those bands whose CDs I saw in Karma, and I honestly thought they were a metal band simply due to the fact that they titled an album File Under Easy Listening. When listening to "If I Can't Change Your Mind," I can't help but wonder how I never heard it at the time, yet the Gin Blossoms would be beaten into my cerebral cortex with an almost identical sound a year after Sugar's first album.
Of course the Gin Blossoms could never touch Mould in the ever important "shred your face off" demographic.
In fact, the first legitimate exposure I had to Bob Mould was when he had already decided to go the solo route. I remember distinctly hearing "Who Was Around?" on a CMJ sampler in 1998 and being fascinated by someone who up until then, was most famous in my mind for writing the theme for "The Daily Show."
After an ill-advised foray into dance-rock, Mould returned to the rock path in 2005 with Body of Song. "Paralyzed" is another standard 4-minute chunk of perfection. The vocals still show their teeth and you get the feeling that few other musicians can continually crank out song after song with hooks that stay buried in your brain. Like Bob Pollard, you get the impression that Mould could brush his teeth and have another perfect chorus ready to record by the time he spits.
Bob Mould - Paralyzed (mp3)