Bob's autobiography reminds me a little of the Clash's Rude Boy. Decades ago, when I saw Rude Boy, it struck me how the movie made them look like assholes. And I always wondered whether this was a mark of integrity on their part, or whether they were just clueless about themselves. I feel the same way reading about Bob. (Upon checking the Wikipedia page for it, it appears the band didn't much like the movie.)
Bob is apparently the kind of guy who insists on doing everything himself, because he's the only one he thinks will do it correctly, and then whines about no one giving him enough credit for doing everything himself.
That said, it's still an interesting read. If you're looking for trash talk about Grant and Greg, yeah, you'll get that here. If you're looking for trash talk about other punk bands, you won't find it. Bob is unfailingly polite in his praise of other bands. (Except Bad Brains, who deserve the derision, being the homophobes that they are.)
If you're looking for tons of info on the
rivalry between Husker Du and the Replacements, you won't get much. Basically, Husker Du built a midwest DIY punk community from the ground up. All the Replacements ever did was make great records. And that rankles Bob. There's also some complaining about Twin/Tone rejecting Husker Du's demos while giving the Mats a full album right away. Of course, there's a reason for that. The Replacements' demo tape was shit-tons better than Husker Du's.
Subject-wise, this book isn't just about Husker Du. The time spent on those years feels appropriate to me. He didn't gloss them over. Nor did he dwell on them. It's also obvious that he enjoyed the Sugar years a lot more. (And he says as much, too.)
Bob's writing style is exhausting to read. It all comes out in a rush. At first, I thought this might be on purpose, that the earlier sections of the book would be written to mirror early Husker Du. And the later sections would be written more maturely, to mirror his musical development. That would have been really cool.
But, that wasn't the case. It's just his writing style. I'm not saying it's bad writing. It's not. But it really lacks nuance.
There's one chapter dedicated to his experience writing pro wrestling scripts. I really wish he had intertwined his love of pro wrestling throughout the book, rather than cramming it all into one chapter. Instead of flowing into the book, it interrupts the narrative.
My favorite parts of the book are where Bob is embracing being gay. They're really the only sections where I liked the guy. He's neither pornographic nor coy about his sex life. I'm truly happy for him that he's accepted himself to the point that he can write about it so frankly. Interestingly, he seems much more self-conscious about returning to the Catholic church.
As a counter-point to Bob's autobiography, I read this Bob-less biography of Husker Du. By
Bob-less I mean that Bob didn't contribute to it. If you want the truth about Husker Du, it surely lies somewhere between this book and Bob's.
That's if you can make it though this sprawling mess. Honestly, did anyone edit this? At all? Whole sections are repeated. Seriously. There's a chunk about the Suicide Commandos, including a lengthy quote, that is simply repeated twice. How could anyone miss that? And the storyline jumps about. It's just sloppy.
On the positive side, it's nice to hear the other side of some stories. It makes Grant and Greg look less like the villains from Bob's book.
The author is also, I think, pretty fair in his assessment of various Husker Du records. He's not genuflecting towards everything they recorded. He covers Twin/Tone's rejection, while also admitting that what the Huskers were shopping around at the time wasn't that great. He's even willing to point out that Zen Arcade has a lot of filler. (In the above auto-bio, Bob also admits that Zen Arcade is much more meaningful to fans than it is to him.) Personally, I didn't really start to love Husker Du until New Day Rising. It's nice to know that I'm not the only one who didn't absolutely love Zen Arcade.
The author is also generous in his praise of Bob. But there's also some snideness towards Bob's solo work. More than once he talks about Bob finding his
patented style. But, the context in which it's mentioned always suggests, to my ears, an accusation of a lack of further musical development. Maybe that's just me.
Again, the Replacements are occasionally mentioned, usually in the same context as above. The Mats just made great records while Husker Du was building a community.
So, bottom line, this is a poorly organized book which still covers some important information and viewpoints. I don't recommend it as a standalone read. But it's a valuable counter-point to Bob's one-sided tome.
hey, I didn't realize you were such a Bob Mould fan. Did I ever tell you that Dave Barbe from Sugar was one of my friends in Athens? I used to guitar tech for his band Mercyland, before he joined Sugar. Funny how life works :P