Today sees the second in the series of  Sugar reissues with the re-release of ‘Beaster’.

On the face of it it looks a fairly unremarkable release – a 6 track mini LP with an additional (short) DVD.

Yet ‘Beaster’ is a remarkable record. Recorded in the same sessions that produced ‘Copper Blue’ it nevertheless has its own distinct character – and, yes, the clue is in the title.

Musically the record follows a distinct arc. The calm, looped start of ‘Come Around’ features lots of acoustic guitars. But things quickly go loud and electric thereafter and the emotions are raw and all over the place. ‘Tilted’ (the record’s single!) is a headlong, desperate rush apparently always on the verge of tripping over itself in its haste.

Things bottom out with ‘Judas Cradle’, the record’s bleakest point, all howling guitars and anguished screams. ‘JC Auto’ (probably Sugar’s finest moment) sees things still desperate but with an edge of hope as a counterpoint to the bleakness of ‘Judas Cradle’.

‘Feeling Better’ is next – but the title is not entirely accurate. Sure, spirits are on the up, but there’s still an air of desperation about the extended finale touching on the deranged.

Only with the closing redemptive ‘Walking Away’, principally Bob and an organ for backing, does ‘Beaster’ regain its composure and a certain serenity.

Which all might suggest that ‘Beaster’ is a tougher listen than it actually is. Because as ever with Bob’s work, melody is at its core (even on ‘Judas Cradle’).

The DVD is reasonably exciting in Sugar fandom as the four live tracks from a Finsbury Park support with the Cure have never seen the light of day before. Although David Barbe talks in the booklet about it being one of the worst Sugar gigs, on DVD it comes over as a reasonable video. But only four songs from the set seem to have survived – and none of these are from ‘Beaster’ – the first three songs from ‘Copper Blue’ and the ‘Beaster’ like ‘Beer Commercial’.

To complete the set there’s also the video for ‘Tilted’.

So in terms of the overall package it’s perhaps not as essential as the ‘Copper Blue’ reissue (a live set would have been nice). But, in terms of the main attraction, this actual record is every bit as important as ‘Copper Blue’ – indeed, arguably more so.

Purchase without delay either in a good record shop or online.

Not a video as such but if you’ve never heard of Sugar – watch this:

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