. . .
As I mentioned before, Sugar recorded a shit-ton of songs during the Copper Blue, and while some of them — “Needle Hits E,” “Try Again,” “Clownmaster,” — ended up as b-sides (and eventually on Besides) — there was a whole batch that Bob Mould felt hung together as a follow-up.
And so, in April 1993 — Easter week — Sugar released what Mould called Copper Blue’s “evil twin,” the Beaster EP. Which, I should point out was only 14 minutes shorter than Copper Blue, but calling it an EP skirted the issue of it being the official follow-up to Copper Blue. Which 30 years later, is really a distinction without a difference, but at the time was important, because there was no way Beaster was going to sell as well as Copper Blue.
Anyways, Beaster was bookended with two atmospheric songs, “Come Around” and “Walking Away,” and in between those songs, some of the most awesomely unhinged music of Mould’s career. And that’s really saying something, as you can imagine.
And with a massive Malcom Travis kickdrum lead in, “JC Auto” basically explodes out of the speakers, Mould’s guitar in yawlping scraping mode while also underscoring the melody of the first verse.
I’m on a holiday wasting my time away
Writing a book on you born on a holiday
In the december snow wasting my time away
Writing a book on you born on a holiday
And then, for a verse, both the guitars and vocal melody get almost pretty — almost — and the you realize that he’s stealing from his own “Poison Years,” as well as doing a bit of call-and-response to boot.
Somewhere in this song
A little clue to something (clue to something)
Parts of it seem over now
You expect a real solution (real solution)
I’ve got to go with what I know
Taking it on holiday away
And in case you think it’s an unconscious steal, it’s not because — as Genius tells me — the first letter of each word in “Parts of it seem over now / You expect a real solution” spell out “POISON YEARS” and well done, Bob. Meanwhile, Bob’s moved on, back into noise mode for the next verse, but keeping the call-and-response:
I’ve done my share of drugs (they drag me down)
I’ve done my share of speed (it kept me up)
I’ve had the strangest love (it’s all I need)
I’ve had the things I need (I need it now)
And just when you think that the song is going to be alternating those two parts without either one really seeming like a chorus, it hits another gear, guitars bouncing against each other like heated molecules as a million Bob Moulds are singing.
When there’s nothing left to all
The colors that you sprayed upon it
Passing judgment on my life
You never really got it right
I can’t believe in anything
I don’t believe in anything
Do you believe in anything
Do you believe me now
But of course, Mould finally gets to what I think is the chorus without waiting for your answer to his questions, and it is awesome.
Look like jesus christ
Act like jesus christ
I know I know I know I know know
Here’s your jesus christ
I’m your jesus christ
I know I know I know I know
Honestly, Mould didn’t even know where it came from, saying “Just the notion of somebody who can do now wrong who eventually gets hung for doing no wrong. I think that everyone feels like a martyr sometimes.”
In any event, Mould’s screaming of that chorus against some of his more roaring guitars dominates the back half of the song, making it clear that while he wasn’t sure what it all meant, he also felt every single word of it, especially on the repeated “I know I know I know I know” which ratchets up the tension to unbearable levels and just glides there until the end of the song, obviating even the need for a guitar solo.
Did you miss a Certain Song? Follow me on Twitter: @barefootjim
The Certain Songs Database
A filterable, searchable & sortable somewhat up to date database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.
Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)
Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page