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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 12 June 2012
And so the final Sugar album is remastered and follows Copper Blue and Beaster's repackaging. Following those albums was always going to be an issue and at the time this felt like a let down after the sweetness of Copper Blue and the bitter angst of Beaster. So its actually nice to revisit this on its own merits.

File Under Easy Listening (shortened to FUEL at the time and since) isn't as good as those albums. At times when listening again its hard to pinpoint exactly why. Gift starts off proceedings in fine style with a track that could have been on Copper Blue (Bob Mould still plays it live). Its a tour de force of guitar and grunge. Company Book isn't quite the dirge it could be and is David Barbe on vocals. On the remaster it somehow comes out better than I remember it. Your Favourite Thing is the first single and it rocked along nicely enough with great melodies and sounded almost power pop (ok not just almost). The next two tracks, What You Want It To Be - guitar driven pop again but never hitting the heights really and Gee Angel - a single and a good track at that round off side one. Yes side one...you read that right because this was definitely of the era (and read the liner notes and Bob's book for more details) where LP's were still about and bands split their albums into sides. Side One of this is a solid offering. Side two feels different. - confirmed by the liner notes. This was mainly acoustically led tracks like Panama City Motel, Believe What You Are Saying and Can't Help You Anymore. They feel almost lightweight and throwaway (with one huge exception which I will come to shortly). If they were ordered differently or if, as Bob alludes to in the liner notes, some tracks were replaced with some of the more rockier B sides then this might have been a five star album. However, it is only really a four star album for these reasons. It never hits the heights of Copper Blue as a pop record and is nowhere near as dark and menacing as Beaster. Its a piece by itself though and I know some fans listen to this a lot, its certainly easier to listen to than Beaster. For me its a great record. Its not up there with the other offerings. However, it does finish on an absolute killer track - Explode and Make Up. Yes this is acoustic and yes this is raw. Its almost as hard a track to listen to as the Beaster stuff as it just is Bob laying his soul on the line (as he says in the lyrics). It was a hell of a note to finish proceedings (and to all intents and purposes the bands recorded work) on.

I keep mentioning those liner notes and they are included in this package. They cover the albums difficult making and also the bands break up. There is a second CD which is a live one. It was included as a bonus CD on the Besides collection of...err..well B Sides. Its as good a live recording you will hear of the band (although not containing a single track of Beaster I might add). The DVD contains the three promo videos (extremely forgettable), an MTV spot with interviews (short and worth a watch) and a live acoustic version of Believe What You Are Saying with Bob and Lou Barlow - good version. There are also five B Sides included on the first disk. All of which are very good and leave you with a mixed feeling of what if...what if they were included.

Overall the package warrants five stars for the package. The live album is really good and the album itself might be four stars. But the overall remastering (seems to have added something here I think), live CD, liner notes and B sides make this worthwhile (the DVD I could probably lived without if I am honest). This album though suffered from comparisons to its predecessors. Take it on its own merits and its a very good album and worth revisiting. I think it will be on heavier rotation for me now.
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Sugar's final album deserves a fresh listen, and this remaster provides the perfect opportunity. This is admittedly an album of two halves, a louder "Copper Blue"-like first half giving way to a more reflective second, but after listening to the album for the first time in a few years I've realised it is a lot better than I remembered.

It opens brilliantly with "Gift", a "Copper Blue"-esque track complete with guitars that would have sounded at home on "Beaster", one of Sugar's best songs in my opinion. This is followed by "Company Book", written and sung by David Barbe (Sugar's bass player) and although his voice is weaker than Mould's it is an enjoyable if slight song. The album's first single, "Your Favourite Thing", comes next, similar in sound to "Copper Blue"'s "If I Can't Change Your Mind", and it sounds as good as it always did. I've always liked "What You Want It To Be", a song that to my ears sounds a little like Bowie's "Heroes", and the final track on the first half of the record, "Gee Angel" is an enjoyable fast rock track, hewn from the same stuff as "Fortune Teller". The second half is quieter on the whole but still sounds great, and personally I love "Panama City Hotel", "Can't Help You Anymore" and the phenomenal "Explode And Make Up", the only weak(ish) tracks being the almost ballad-like "Believe What You're Saying" and the potential filler of "Granny Cool". When I first heard the album when it was originally released I thought the second half was almost acoustic, even country & western sounding, but it is more electric than I remembered, and when I played the remastered version I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. It has aged well.

The rest of the package consists of a CD and a DVD. As with "Copper Blue" the album is followed by its B-sides ("And You Tell Me", "Mind Is An Island" and "In The Eyes Of My Friends" are my personal highlights here), and the second disk is a live set, however if you previously bought the "Besides" compilation the live CD is identical to the second disk from that collection, and the B-sides are also the same. The DVD contains a few (not very good) videos and some TV interviews - worth a look but nothing remarkable. Once again though the best part for me was the booklet which contains a lengthy interview with the band and some of the other key players and makes for fascinating reading.

All in all it is a fitting swansong to a tremendous band who weren't around for long enough. Not as good as "Beaster" or "Copper Blue" admittedly, but still streets ahead of many.
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on 22 August 2012
If you listen to this album objectively in 2012 it becomes clear that this is Sugar's best album. I really like this album. This will come back into fashion. There will be an American Indie late 80s early 90s revival some time soon and Bob Mould is the Grungefather.
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on 24 April 2010
Bob Mould must have thought he might have had a shot at genuine success in 1994. Sugar's debut album "Copper Blue" had charted top ten in the UK album charts in 1992 and had recieved widespread critical praise. Follow up, mini album "Beaster", although much darker, and exploring the singers complex personal emotions, was again seen as a compelling work by a songwriter hitting top form. Grunge bands including Nirvana, Buffalo Tom, Superchunk and Mudhoney held him and former band Husker Du in a near religious regard, Sugar's record label in the UK, Creation, had began to be established as the hippest in Britain. Surely nothing could go wrong could it?

"File Under Easy Listening" or F.U.E.L as fans know it, was secretly turning into a nightmare for Mould. The Album was re-recorded from scratch after an aborted false start and tension btween Mould and bassist Dave Barbe had began to surfice like the ghost of (certain) bands past. Subsquently the resulting finished album released in September 1994 is a mixed bag to say the least.

Listening to the album now I can't help feeling the record is a missed opportunity. Its not that bad, but too many of the songs seem uninspired and lack the invention and spark of "Copper Blue" or "Beaster". It does have its worthwhile moments, "Favorite thing" and "Gee Angel" capture Sugar's familiar driving pop sound and "Believe In What Your Saying" is a nice acoustic ballad, but often this album really plods; "Granny Cool" and "Panama City Motel" are forgettable and dull. Barbe's sole contribution "Company Book" is also surprisingly average, especially as previous B-Side "Diamonds are Halos" showed what he was really capable of. Mould's lifeless production on this record also hold it back. I am convinced that Lou Giordano(who co-produced "Copper Blue" with Mould) or maybe Scott Litt (R.E.M, Replacements) might just have improved the record's sound considerably.

F.U.E.L was Mould's last Sugar album. The record never sold anywhere near as well as hoped and the band split soon after it's release. Mould returned to being a respected cult musician and Creation records finally found huge chart success not long after with five lads from Manchester who played intelligent pop songs with chopping, driven guitars and emotional lyrics. It's a funny old world.
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on 7 December 1999
File under easy listening is a very good album and contains some great songs: Panama City Motel, Gee Angel, Believe what you're saying, are great songs in their own right. It has more commercial appeal and catchy songs than the real power guitars of the previous two albums. FUEL is a good album in it's own right and well worth listening to. If you've heard it and like it but don't own Copper Blue then go and buy it now you won't belive what you have missed
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on 25 November 1999
Just listen to Explode and Make Up. On judgement day Bob Mould will be exaulted among Angels for this song. It is without doubt one of the greatest songs I have ever heard.
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on 8 January 2002
Breaks into Gift. I played this Album to Death in 1994. An excellent follow up to the smash album "Copper Blue" 1992. I write this in 2002 after searching for new cd's and to find this album has sold 57.000 amazon copies.
See 4 urself. If it was good enough for my Radio show it is good enough for you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Mike Gallie- Highlands of Scotland / Evanton
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on 13 April 2006
Sugar was a band suggested to me by a pal much more into music than I - and I'm grateful he did. Apart from the fact I'd never heard of them (not very Radio 2 or TOTP) and it's a genre I don't think I like, I love this and the other Sugar CDs. They are loud, sometimes grating and best in small doses when the mood takes me (and the volume can be loud, i.e. the car), but also haunting.
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on 30 January 2015
Came on time a good second album!
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on 21 October 2015
Great cd, thanks
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