Aha, the first Sonic Youth record that I’ve written about on here. I’m sure that there will be many more.
Sonic Youth are the number one band for me – a mid-level obsession that has been in my life since the very early 1990s. A friend of the younger of my two sisters made me a couple of compilation tapes back in that time, after we’d spent time working together over a summer, packing earrings into ever-larger boxes. On one of these tapes, amongst the much-expected James/Inspiral Carpets/Stone Roses-type fare that was taking over the world at the time, was a strange track called ‘Mary Christ’ by a band I’d read the name of before, but never heard. My mind was blown. This sounded like nothing I’d ever heard before; so energetic, weird and yet listenable. Within a matter of days I was scouring every record shop in the Midlands, picking up every piece of vinyl I could find with the band’s name on it.
This continues still: Sonic Youth could release records of themselves chanting “This record is a rip-off: we are laughing at you” through a wall of laughter, and I’d be in line to buy them. (Some would say that some of the more recent SYR series of releases are not far from this, ho ho). I still obsess about them and I think I always will. On reflection, the 1980s is for me their peak period, and Evol comes a close second to Sister as my favourite album of theirs from this time. (Although, naturally, Daydream Nation is a close third, and Confusion Is Sex a close fourth, and so on…) Evol sums up their weird fascination with Hollywood star fetishisation (see ‘Starpower’, ‘Marilyn Moore’, ‘Madonna, Sean and Me’ – as ‘Expressway To Yr Skull’ is known on the rear sleeve here). This would then blossom into mainstream acceptance with the release of Goo a few years later.
Sonic Youth are the band that have for me gone beyond being something I merely like, and they have now been a constant companion for nigh-on twenty years. That might sound creepy and stalkerish but I’ll tell you this – I’m certainly not on my own feeling this way.