Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Sonic Youth: How one band helped change my life

The year I was fourteen (1990-1991) was not a great one. Let's just say I hit adolescence, with all the pain, angst and trouble that brings. However, I'm still in touch with some of the people I became friendly with during that time, and as a secondary teacher (High School teacher for US readers) I can at least reassure those I teach that it will get better.

If there was one thing I got out of that miserable year, it was my introduction to 'indie/alternative' music -and this was in pre-Nevermind times. For my fourteenth birthday, I got the Rolling Stones' Hot Rocks 1964-1971, The Sex Pistols' Nevermind The Bollocks, Here's The Sex Pistols and erm, The Clash's Cut The Crap (yeah, I know, but I didn't have someone to advise me). Bought for me on cassette (this was 1990, remember) by my long-suffering mother, but requested by me, this was the start of it. Then the following month, staying with a friend in London who was a year or so older (and that's significant when you're in your teens), played me Jane's Addiction's Ritual De Lo Habitual and Sonic Youth's Goo.

From it's cover alone, with it's pop art sleeve and the droll 'I Siole my sister's boyfriend. It was all whirlwind, heat and flash. Within a week we killed my parents and hit the road' this was something else. Then I heard 'Dirty Boots.'

Sonic Youth -'Dirty Boots.' mp3

In time, of course, I heard other Sonic Youth albums, particularly Sister and Daydream Nation.

From Sister (released in 1987)

Sonic Youth -'Schizophrenia.' mp3

From Daydream Nation (released in 1988)

Sonic Youth -'Rain King.' mp3

Whilst on holiday in Italy last week, it occured to me that I could do a Sonic Youth cover versions posting. I know I've posted these first two here before, but they really are classics:

Sonic Youth -'Superstar (the Carpenters cover).' mp3 (This can be found on the Various Artists If I Was A Carpenter album. This dates from 1994).

Sonic Youth -'Into The Groove(y) (Madonna cover).' mp3 (This was originally a 7" as Ciccone Youth (Jeez, do I have to spell this out? Ciccone was Madonna's maiden name) and then released on the Ciccone Youth's The Whitey Album, which is still available, and on the 1995 Sonic Youth compilation Screaming Fields Of Sonic Love.

Sonic Youth -'Hotwire My Heart (Crime cover).' mp3

(I don't know much about Crime but their original version of this track came out in 1976, and they were part of the seventies New York Punk scene. This can be found on the aforementioned Sister album)

Finally I mentioned the Daydream Nation album earlier. This has recently been re-issued with fantastic sleevenotes (yes, this is why I buy albums as opposed to just downloading them. Plus I have a concentration span of more than two seconds) and a second disc of live performances and four cover versions:

Sonic Youth -'Within You Without You (The Beatles cover).' mp3

(This was originally recorded for an NME Charity compilation, Sergeant Pepper Knew My Father to raise money for the then fledgling UK charity Childline. A whole host of artists, including The Fall doing 'A Day In the Life' covered songs from The Beatles' Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band Perhaps most famously, was the double a-Side of Billy Bragg doing 'She's Leaving Home', and Wet Wet Wet doing 'With A Little Help From My Friends.')

Sonic Youth -'Touch Me Me I'm Sick (Mudhoney cover).' mp3

(This was a cover of the seminal mudhoney single, in this case recorded for a split Sub Pop single with Mudhoney covering the youth's 'Halloween' (from Bad Moon Rising on the other side).

Sonic Youth -'Computer Age (Neil Young cover).' mp3

(This was from a 1989 compilation called The Bridge, in which various artists covered Neil young songs and the proceeds went to The Bridge school in California, whihc Young has long been a patron of. The album also feaures Loop doing 'Cinnamon Girl' Flaming Lips doing 'After The Goldrush' and Psychic TV doing 'Only Love Can Break Your Heart' (which of course would be covered a year or so later by saint etienne in a radically different form again))

Sonic Youth -'Electricity (Captain Beefheart cover).' mp3

(Cannot claim any knowledge about this. Any info gratefull received etc..)

All these tracks are available so if you like what you hear then please go and buy them. If you are looking for starters on how to get into Sonic Youth, I suggest you get the compilation Screaming Fields Of Sonic Love, Goo, Daydream Nation and Sister. If you buy Evol, make sure you get it on vinyl, it literally lasts forever...

Sonic Youth's official website is here, whihc has even more mp3s.


Anonymous said...

pretty sure the Beefheart cover is from a tribute LP in the late 80s.

Anonymous said...

yeah, here it is: Fast 'n' Bulbous, released 1988.

Ed said...

wow! Thank you...whoever you are!


Anonymous said...

superb post ... and i'm not even a SY fan. merci!

Ed said...

You're welcome. Result, I guess!

mark said...

i agree with this guy:

Anonymous said...
superb post ... and i'm not even a SY fan. merci!

Michael said...

Caught up with the blog after the Guardian recommendation, 17 Seconds, and finally have something to comment on rather than just being an avid reader and occasional listener.
Always rated Sonic Youth - seeing them supported by Teenage Fan Club a long time ago still sticks in the memory bank (Daydream Nation tour?). Anyway, what about their John Peel Fall Covers Session?

Ed said...

Mark -thank you, guess this post seems to have touched some folk out there.

Michael -haven't heard their John Peel Fall covers session, no doubt to my shame, will have to hunt that one out.

Hmm, maybe I should do a post of songs The Fall have covered?

Anonymous said...

Re: Sonic Youth covers.

The Beefheart cover "Electricity" first appeared on "Fast N Bulbous: A Tribute To Captain Beefheart", which was released on Imaginary Records in 1988.

Anonymous said...

Check out www.eggcityradio.com to download Sonic Youth's Fall covers Peel Session.

Ed said...

Thank you! Will do so...


Anonymous said...

First of all, re: "Hotwire My Heart" CRIME was from SAN FRANCISCO, not NEW YORK!!!!

secondly, I always thought it was a subtly brilliant move to have Lee Renaldo sing "Within You Without You" which was George Harrison's tune - since Lee is kinda the George of SY with Thurston & Kim in the foreground.

Thanks for the tunes and a great blog.


Ed said...

Whoops! Like I said I know next to nothing about the band, and evidently just proved it!

Glad you like the tunes and the blog.


Drunk Country said...

Be carful, though. Fast n Bulbous is a patchy album at best - really does the great man a disservice.

Ed said...

Will bear that in mind, guess the thing about the re-issued Daydream Nation is it means we don't have to investigate to hear their cover.


Ian D.Matthews said...

How about Sonic Youth covered by other people? I heard a great version of Bull in the Heather today by The Go! Team...

Ed said...

Pretty sure I have posted that before, but happy to do so again.