Other than Husker Du my only other exposure to Bob Mould was his band Sugar. So upon hearing that his first solo album, Workbook was going to get the 33 1/3 treatment, I decided to give it a listen.
I didn’t like it very much (except See a Little Light, which is amazing), which means I was curious to see how Walter Biggins and Daniel Couch were going to tackle it and they do it in an innovative way; through letters. Technically this makes it the third book in the series to have an epistolary format ( the other two are Patti Smith’s Horses and Black Sabbath’s Master of Reality) however the previous two presented a criticism of the allbum as a work of fiction. This is more real.
Throughout the book. Biggins and Couch send each other letters speaking about the album, what it means to them and the cultural impact it had on music. The poignant bit in the book is how Couch writes about his experience of the album as a gay Afro American who like alternative rock. For those who don’t know Bob Mould was also gay and he hid it by shouting aggressive songs in Husker Du and then workbook displayed a more sensitive side.
Do not be fooled, the authors had interviewed Bob Mould extensively for this book but it is discreetly done and us readers only discover this towards the end.
On the whole it is a good book, as innovative as it is, I’m not sure that the format works in bringing out the album’s better qualities but it is ok and different than the usual 33 1/3 volumes.