Thursday, 14 February 2013
Sonic Youth - Smart Bar Chicago 1985
This Smart Bar Chicago 1985 cd takes you right to the heart of the beginning of Sonic Youth's reign as the premier American underground band. This is where the noise meets the rock and the rock is introduced to the pop. I dig Confusion Is Sex and Bad Moon Rising and even though most of the material for this live date comes from Bad Moon Rising, it's different. I always thought Sonic Youth progressed quite naturally but upon hearing this I started to think that perhaps Steve Shelley was the catalyst for a more accessible, fluid and rock Sonic Youth. He was not long in the band when this concert was recorded. He injects new life into these tracks (that were played on Bad Moon Rising by Bob Bert) and you can hear the future Sonic Youth starting to come together. Songs take on a (Can-esque) flow motion that was previously non existent. This is where the No Wave noise and post hardcore sounds begin to be sculptured into something more beautiful and sensual. This is exemplified here on an early version of Expressway To Yr Skull. 1985 was the first time I read about Sonic Youth in Juke magazine. In that article they were discussing Bad Moon Rising, the 60s, Charlie Manson and John Fogerty's comeback. The band were photographed with a scarecrow. This article/image stuck in my brain but it would have been 2 years at least until I first heard their music with Schizophrenia on the airwaves of RRR whilst visiting the big smoke.
Maybe it was the disappointment of m b v that made me buy Smart Bar Chicago 1985 and go back to MBV's original influences. Just before I dug out Dinosaur Jr's You're Living All Over Me, I listened to Isn't Anything. This LP immediately transported me back to the late 80s. Glory days I suppose. My Bloody Valentine were once raw and incredibly melodic. Their other unsung triumph was their wicked rhythm section that was sometimes at the forefront of a tune. There was light, shade, claustrophobia, ecstasy and surrealism. What happened? More to the point do I really care now? The mourning was done some time ago. We've got the old records and they're brilliant as are those of their contemporaneous influences. The aforementioned Dinosaur LP has been cranked up real loud over this last week and its blistering blissful vistas have had me ecstatic. What can I say? Wow! Geez I would love to have been writing at that time. It was so exciting and fertile. The great thing is that, that excitement is contained within some of those records still.
The live Sonic Youth cd has of course had me listening back to their Evol and Sister LPs. Is their anything left to say about those records? Except they still sound fucking awesome in 2013. I don't know where First Born Is Dead by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds fits in to all this but I've been giving that a spin too. That was a fabulous and strange record! They were just a weird little four piece band then. Blixa, Barry, Mick (on drums) and Nick. It's such a sparse LP and so powerful!
All these groups were influences on the young My Bloody Valentine.
So if you ever wondered (I haven't until now) what Bad Moon Rising would have sounded like with Steve Shelley on the skins check out Smart Bar Chicago 1985.
Retromania moves in mysterious ways. I'm in the mid to late 80s now.