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Sonic Youth: Goo Reissue

Sonic Youth - Goo

This is a reissue of quite possibly one of the best albums ever. Goo changed everything. It was the end of the Reagan eighties, and music had been so completely commercial and bland for so long that everybody was walking around like zombies.

But the underground had been percolating. Punk had morphed into post-punk, alternative (a real alternative to top 40), and all sorts of fractured genres. People were experimenting with new sounds and that had been happening for over a decade. About the time that Goo came out, it all boiled over into the mass consciousness. Goo helped lead that charge. Goo exploded all over the musical world, throbbing and intense and like nothing you had ever heard before. I remember seeing the video for Kool Thing on MTV's 120 Minutes. It blew me away. It was everything I had been looking for and more.

So this is the second installment of Sonic Youth reissues, the first being Dirty. The band has given it to us in a 2 CD set, with a 4 LP vinyl version on the way. The entire album has been remastered for greater clarity: that is, the noise is more pure now.

They have thrown in great extra's, some you may have heard as b sides on all of the great EP's and singles put out after Goo, like That's All I Know Right Now and The Bedroom. The Bedroom is actually an early version of The Destroyed Room that made it's way to Dirty. The second disc is comprised of mostly 8-track demos and a few extras. These demos are the genuine gift here. They are raw and emotional, uncompressed, full of life and torment.

One of my best live show moments happened at a Sonic Youth show. It wasn't even during one of the songs, it was in between songs. The band was moving into free form sound, each person breaking down their instruments in deconstructivist fashion, intent on destroying the convention of their intended purpose, and there was noise and distorsion and feedback going everywhere. There were strobe lights all over the club - like a dozen of them - and they would flash one at a time in intermittent flashes. Other than that, the club was pitch black. So you would have this darkness that was full of noise, and then a strobe would flash one time for a half a second from the side of the stage. Then it would go dark, then another would flash a second or two later from the back. The result was a timewarp effect of being lost in a swirl of sound and light. I was a few rows from the front of the stage taking it all in with the most amazing awe. They went on like this for a few minutes (but it seemed to last for days) and then launched into their next song. Some of these demos recreate that experimentalist magic.

The 8 track demos are great to listen to in their roughness - Lee's a little off pitch on the high notes, the guitars sound extra dirty and fuzzy, and Winona Ryder even makes her way on to some spoken word bits on Flexi disc interview. These are presumably the songs that were submitted to Geffen back in the day that landed them a contract - and cemented the group in what would turn out be multi-album deal. This was a big shift for the band musically, as they moved into fuzz territory and expanded their sound immensley. I know most scribes tend to point out Daydream Nation or Dirty as the big albums for Sonic Youth - but I think this was their magnum opus. Everything changed with this set of music. They upped the ante on their musical offering, expanding their scope far beyond the sounds they had ever created before (which is no small feat if you listen to the previous albums), took their lyric writing to a new level, and made this the biggest "art project" they had ever done.

The guitar lines on DV2 (Kool Thing) are free flowing and rough at the same time. The enrgy is great. There is a live feel to these tracks, like they all played on them at the same time rather than separate recordings time shifted over days. Mildred Pierce clocks in at almost 9 minutes, in long form free expression and noisy chaos. There's feedback spilling out my speakers and I feel like I'm right there at the show again.

Sonic Youth: Goo reissue Track List
Disc One
01 Dirty Boots
02 Tunic (Song for Karen)
03 Mary-Christ
04 Kool Thing
05 Mote
06 My Friend Goo
07 Disappearer
08 Mildred Pierce
09 Cinderella's Big Score
10 Scooter and Jinx
11 Titanium Expose
12 Lee #2
13 That's All I Know (Right Now)
14 The Bedroom
15 Dr. Benway's House
16 Tuff Boyz

Disc Two
01 Tunic
02 Number One (Disappearer)
03 Titanium Expose
04 Dirty Boots
05 Corky (Cinderella's Big Score)
06 My Friend Goo
07 Bookstore (Mote)
08 Animals (Mary-Christ)
09 DV 2 (Kool Thing)
10 Blowjob (Mildred Pierce)
11 Lee #2
12 I Know There's an Answer
13 Can Song
14 Isaac
15 Goo Interview Flexi

RATING: ***** 5 out of 5 stars

Release Date:
September 13, 2003

Recording Label:
Geffen / Universal Music Company



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