ALBUM REVIEW: Bob Mould – Distortion 1996-2007

8/10

Bob Mould - Distortion 1996-2007

Bob Mould has been credited with being one of the Godfathers of the Alternative, Grunge and Underground musical movements of the ’80s and ’90s. His founding and participation in the seminal underground group Husker Du introduced this singular innovator to the music world. He would help launch the language that groups like The Pixies, Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, and so many bands would also utilize to become rock icons in their own right. After Husker Du’s implosion, he would create some of the most introspective, unique and engaging solo albums.

Additionally, his post-Husker Du Alternative pop band confection Sugar cemented his place in Alternative rock history. On January 22nd Mould releases his third compilation album Distortion 1996-2007. This third issue of five is part of a year-long celebration of Bob Mould’s legendary creativity and a seminal influence on Alternative music.

Bob Mould titled the expansive boxset five edition project “Distortion” because as he puts it “…it’s called Distortion because it describes the music and it fits the world we live in.”. Truer words could not be uttered to describe the entire boxset collection. This third edition of “Distortion” spans Mould’s career output from 1996 to 2007 including 6 albums from the period some never available on vinyl before this release. The albums include his eponymous 1996 third solo album, referred to by fans as the “Hubcap” album. 1998’s The Last Dog and Pony Show, 2002’s musically controversial Modulate and Long Play Grooves, the latter recorded under the name Loud Bomb, 2005’s Body of Song and a compilation album of his DJ work called Blowoff from 2006.

As with his prior two boxsets, this one is loaded with bonus material. It includes a 28-page companion book featuring liner notes from Journalist Keith Cameron, Death Cab Cutie’s Ben Gibbard and Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino. I found most interesting the bonus tracks that include a demo of “Dog On Fire” which would eventually become the Daily Show theme.

On this boxset, Mould is displayed in the throws of metamorphosis. Listeners can hear him step back from his storied guitar attacks to embrace Techno, Dance and Electronica, oft times challenging both critics and fans. First in the collection Hubcap shows a performer coming to grips with what he is known for, fantastically incendiary guitar work and social commentary, then pulling down the curtain with what at the time he thought would be his last full electric band output with The Last Dog and Pony Show.

The new release continues chronicling his re emergency as an experimental Electronica and Dance proponent with the releases of both Modulate and Long Play Grooves in 2002. These two albums would probably be the most controversial as they were totally removed from what people had come to expect from Mould. Body of Song in 2005 would again capture Mould doing an about-face where he returned to more guitar-based songs with hints of Electronica. The final inclusion on this release besides the bonus tracks is the recordings of his Blowoff sessions which were recordings of his DJ club creations which mostly occurred at Washington D.C.’s legendary venue the 9:30 Club.

This new box set release is the documentation of Mould being undaunted in following his muse no matter where it took him during this period. It is engaging to hear Mould’s musical progression from his more familiar sounds on Hubcap, & The Last Dog and Pony Show while comparing it to the experimentation and almost free-associative vibes of Modulate, Long Play Grooves, and Blowoff. This journey pays off with his critically acclaimed release Body of Song, which would see him create an amalgam of the music he had worked within for the over a decade and the discoveries he had recently made, resulting in his re emergency as the Renaissance Man of Alternative Rock.

Distortion 1996-2007 is definitely a must-have for Bob Mould fans and those who want to experience the genius of Mould’s varied music sensibilities. It is also a great resource for those who want to catch up with the overall Mould discography. There are two more boxsets slated for release this year to round out Mould’s musical odyssey mapping thus far. All the “Distortion” boxsets provide an excellent overview of Bob Mould’s stellar musical career that hopefully has many years to go.

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