Tuesday, June 30, 2015

hark! the village wait

Steeleye Span harkened back to the sound of British townships with their folk rock interpretations of traditional medieval melodies.  Ashley Hutchings had recorded four albums with Fairport Convention including their eponymous debut and three classic albums in 1969 (What We Did on Our HolidaysUnhalfbricking, and Liege & Lief) before deciding to leave the band. A fatal accident was the impetus for the change:   "We were totally fractured, in more ways than one. People were asking us about the future, but we couldn't conceive of planning one."

Hutchings formed Steeleye Span with the intention of pursuing a more traditional folk sound.   Maddy Prior looks back:  "Terry and Gay Woods were looking to form a band with Ashley Hutchings. They were staying in the same house Tim and I were living in, and they asked ‘Do you want to join the band?’ We had some rehearsals and thought, ‘Let’s give it a go’, but it’s not always a good idea to get involved with people you don’t really know. Ashley had just left Fairport after being in a bad car crash and was still struggling with it. He was like the referee between two couples - and the ref was poorly - but we did get on well, but then Terry and Gay did leave, so maybe we didn’t!”

Taking their name from the traditional song Horkstow Grange, they recorded their debut album 'Hark! The Village Wait' at Sound Techniques in London with producer Sandy Roberton.   The sessions featured  Tim Hart on lead vocals, vocals, electric guitar, 5 string banjo, electric dulcimer, fiddle, and harmonium;    Ashley Hutchings on electric bass;    Maddy Prior on lead vocals, vocals, 5 string banjo, and step dancing;    Gay Woods on lead vocals, vocals, auto-harp, concertina, bodhran, and step dancing;    Terry Woods on vocals, mandola, electric guitar, 5 string banjo, concertina, and  mandolin;   with  Gerry Conway and  Dave Mattacks on drums.   

Gay Woods remembers:   "It would have been late ‘69. I remember because it was wintertime and it was snowing and all the rest of it...I was married to Terry Woods then and he went over to England and met Ashley Hutchings and Ashley was wanting to form another band after Fairport because he had left them and wanted to do his own thing and Terry joined up. I went over to get a job as a typist - the old story so Terry said that I could sing, because I had always sung here in Ireland with my brothers and with Terry. I came from a singing family so they said, ”Oh well, do you want to sing?". It was all very casual, there was no record deal, nothing. We just did it - like the way kids do nowadays. We had to set up in Ashley Hutching’s bedroom and sing a few songs and see what we wanted. Then Tim and Maddy were asked and they decided to give it a go and that was how it formed. Terry Woods and me moved down to a place in Wiltshire and Ashley moved down south and Tim and Maddy came into it whilst they were doing the folk club gigs...There was definitely a project. Ashley Hutchings and Terry Woods were the mainstay - Terry had a huge repertoire of songs and a huge energy as well for playing. He was really into it. So was Ashley - he was the sort of driving force - the English connection. So we got a record producer and we got a deal - RCA and we were just astonished. I got a job as a typist and I had it about a week but I think that was the catalyst. When I went off to work down in London, they got the deal. I got a lovely phone call one day saying 'Gay, we’ve got the deal- you’ve got the job'. I was out there like a bullet!...Well it was very folk clubby, although Fairport had done ‘Liege and Lief’ but before that in Ireland ‘Sweeney’s Men’ had brought in Henry McCulloch to play electric guitar with them. I had been to the Cambridge Folk Festival in 1968 to watch them and they were booed off the stage for applying an electric guitar but they got on and they did their short set but audiences were certainly reluctant to see electric music going into traditional folk music stuff...I think it has a certain identity about it that no one else captured at that time certainly. It has to do with the songs we chose how Ashley Hutchings plays the bass - I love bass playing. I think it’s an integral part in that change of how traditional music was carried on, particularly with the instruments Terry Woods used. As well as that the two women singing - the collision of nasally English singing and throaty Irish singing - just a big bowl of ingredients that made it sound like it did with traces of sweetness. Although I have to say the people weren’t sweet to each other whilst they did it...Then the fighting started because there were some clashes of personality so that was the end of that!"


'Hark! The Village Wait' 
full album:


1 A Calling-On Song 1:12 (Hutchings)
2 The Blacksmith 3:40  (Traditional)
3 Fisherman's Wife 3:14 (MacColl)
4 Blackleg Miner 2:47  (Traditional)
5 Dark-Eyed Sailor 5:58  (Traditional)
6 Copshawholme Fair 2:34  (Traditional)
7 All Things Are Quite Silent 2:39  (Traditional)
8 The Hills of Greenmore 4:01  (Traditional)
9 My Johnny Was a Shoemaker 1:11  (Traditional)
10 Lowlands of Holland 6:00  (Traditional)
11 Twa Corbies 2:06  (Traditional)
12 One Night as I Lay on My Bed 3:30  (Traditional)

Monday, June 29, 2015

the hour of bewilderbeast

Badly Drawn Boy fueled the fire and caused a rockslide that left us wanting more with the blistered bewilderment of this dark labyrinth of disillusion.  Damon Gough grew up in the area of Bolton, Lancashire and after studying at  Leeds’ College of Music, he met up with Andy Votel to form Twisted Nerve Records.   

Gough reveals:   “In some ways the isolation of living in a village made me veer towards being a solo artist, in a strange way, because I was used to being on my own...I was in a couple of bands, but always had the mentality of being a solo artist, perhaps because of that village isolation...That definitely had some influence on the route I took, and my mum and dad being self-employed – running their own small business – probably gave me that attitude of doing it for myself, starting my own record label ... I was living in this commune with a few friends up past Blackburn. They all decided to move to Chorlton so I moved with them and I really started to take making music seriously. I met Andy Votel one night DJ-ing and Andy had this ambition to start a record label. I had reams of ideas from hours spent in my bedroom playing guitars and keyboards. Andy was one of the first people I played some of my ideas to: he showed some belief in me and decided to start a label called Twisted Nerve Records. I had the stupid name, he had the label ... There was a cartoon called "Sam and his Magic Ball" in the 70's. In one episode, the main joke was a character who was a really bad drawing. He was really upset because all the other characters were finished. I made up the moniker based on him. It was only intended to be for the first EP but it became so notorious that I ended up having to stick with it."

Badly Drawn Boy released five EP's (EP1EP2EP3It Came from the Ground, and Once Around the Block) before recording his debut album for Beggars Banquet subsidiary XL Recordings.   'The Hour of Bewilderbeast' was produced by Badly Drawn Boy, Gary Wilkinson, Joe Robinson, and Ken Nelson at Parr Street Studios in Liverpool.  The sessions featured Badly Drawn Boy (Damon Gough) on vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, piano, lead guitar, bass guitar, keyboards, drum machine, tambourine, handclaps, whistling, slide guitar, harmonica, Wurlitzer electric piano, lead keyboards, organ solo, drum machine organs, percussion, crash cymbal, vibraphone, xylophone, harp, string arrangement, and sound effects;     Matt McGeever on cello and handclaps;   Sam Morris on bass, keyboards, French horn, and handclaps;   Ian Smith on drums, electric guitar, percussion, vibraphone, and handclaps;   Joe Robinson on drum programming, loops, theremin, effects, and sound effects;  Andy Votel on drum programming, effects, piano, keyboards, strings samples, and samples;   Adrian Dacre, Andy Williams, and Spencer Birtwhistle on drums;   Sean Kelly on drums and handclaps;   Ian Rainford, Sophie Williams, and Derrick Santini on handclaps;   Jez Williams on electric guitar and slide guitar;   Jimi Goodwin on bass;   Martin Rebelski on Wurlitzer electric piano, clavinet, and keyboards;  Gary Wilkinson on keyboards, drum programming, sirens, and noises;   Paul Taylor on string arrangements;   the Northern New Orleans Brass Band on horns;   Clare Hewitt on backing vocals;   Robin File on electric and acoustic guitar;   Matt Wardle on piano, organ, synthesizer, keyboards, and vocals;  Sean Mcann on bass guitar;   and Dave Verner on drums and percussion.   

Gough says:   "'Bewilderbeast' was about the search for a relationship or series of relationships that I encompassed into one for the cycle. I've got my security and fan base and everything I wanted, but it's still tough. A lot of that got on the record ... Basically, it's a way of describing someone as human and vulnerable no matter how much they come across as being confident and cocksure."

The album cover art was designed by Andy Votel, based on  The Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci.  It originally included an image of Woody Allen; but had to be redone when a suit was filed.  Also, the song  "Magic in the Air" was remixed when Taja Sevelle claimed they copied her song "Love Is Contagious".

'The Hour of Bewilderbeast' reached number thirty-six on the US heatseekers album chart, twenty-three on the US independent albums chart, and thirteen in the UK, where it also won the prestigious Mercury Prize, beating out The Doves who had played on his album.  Gough would express:   "I always assumed I was never going to win because good things don't happen to good people normally ... It was very exciting and I will always be grateful for it starting my career. People talk about it being an Achilles heel or an albatross, but I think it’s just a coincidence that the acts that receive it are not the kind of artists who tend to stay in the charts. They make records in their own time and space."



"Once Around the Block"


"Pissing in the Wind"

"Another Pearl"

'The Hour of Bewilderbeast' 
full album:



All music composed by Badly Drawn Boy (Damon Gough).

1. "The Shining"   5:18
2. "Everybody's Stalking"   3:39
3. "Bewilder"   0:48
4. "Fall in a River"   2:17
5. "Camping Next to Water"   3:50
6. "Stone on the Water"   3:58
7. "Another Pearl"   4:27
8. "Body Rap"   0:45
9. "Once Around the Block"   3:44
10. "This Song"   1:32
11. "Bewilderbeast"   3:30
12. "Magic in the Air"   3:43
13. "Cause a Rockslide"   5:55
14. "Pissing in the Wind"   4:19
15. "Blistered Heart"   1:50
16. "Disillusion"   5:19
17. "Say It Again"   4:41
18. "Epitaph"   3:50

Sunday, June 28, 2015

tonight's the night

Neil Young opened up tired eyes and sent chills up and down the spine standing on the sound of this shaky searching salutation.  In the wake of the deaths of Crazy Horse guitarist Danny Whitten on November 18, 1972 and roadie Bruce Berry on June 4, 1973, Young recorded a live album of new material called 'Time Fades Away' during the tour for his blockbuster album 'Harvest'.  His next project directly dealt with the deaths of his friends.  Most of the album was recorded during August and September of 1973 at Studio Instrument Rentals in Hollywood' with The Santa Monica Flyers (Ben Keith, Nils Lofgren, and the Crazy Horse rhythm section of Billy Talbot and Ralph Molina).   "Come on Baby Let's Go Downtown" was recorded live with Crazy Horse at the Fillmore East in New York in March of 1970; and "Lookout Joe" and "Borrowed Tune" laid down at Broken Arrow Ranch in December 1972 and  December 1973, respectively.  "Lookout Joe" features his 'Harvest' band The Stray Gators (Jack Nitzsche, Tim Drummond, Ben Keith, and Kenny Buttrey) while "Borrowed Tune" is Neil solo.   The album was produced by David Briggs and Neil Young with Tim Mulligan.  

'Tonight's The Night' credits  Neil Young on vocals, guitar,  piano, harmonica, and vibes;    Ben Keith on pedal steel guitar, vocals, and slide guitar;   Nils Lofgren on piano, vocals, and guitar;   Danny Whitten on vocals and electric guitar;   Jack Nitzsche on electric piano and piano;   Billy Talbot and Tim Drummond on bass;   Ralph Molina on drums and vocals;  Kenny Buttrey on drums;  and  George Whitsell on vocals.    Reprise was not happy with the dark tone of the album and did not want to release it.  In the meantime, Young recorded and released 'On The Beach' , but continued to pressure the record company to put out 'Tonight's The Night', which they finally did in June of 1975.    The album went to number sixty-one in Canada, forty-eight in the UK, forty-two in Australia, and twenty-five in the US.  Along with  'Time Fades Away'  and  'On The Beach' , it is part of what is called Young's "Ditch Trilogy".  

Young would confess:     "The album 'Tonight's the Night' is the best I have ever made. It's recorded live. On one side there are four songs recorded in one take without stopping. In a hall belonging to Studio Instrument Rentals in LA. The owner of the firm, Ken Berry, is the brother of the former roadie Bruce and he let me use that hall. The atmosphere was so relaxed that we began recording immediately. And it's the most honest thing I have ever done. The guys I'm playing with at the moment make me feel relaxed and that's why I can be so honest. But I think the public thinks I'm trying to trick them ... Tonight's the Night is like an OD letter. The whole thing is about life, dope, and death. When we played that music we were all thinking of Danny Whitten and Bruce Berry, two close members of our unit lost to junk overdoses. We played Bruce and Danny on their way all through the night ... All of these things happen to people, so I figured it happened to me so I'll write about this, and I'll just write from my heart, and if other people have this happen to them they'll relate to this."

"It's odd.  I don't know why, it was a subconscious move, I think Tonight's the Night is the most grand example of that resistance [to success]. It was actually recorded in August of '73 at SIR [LA's Studio Instrument Rentals], where we had the party last night. Everything on Tonight's the Night was recorded and mixed before On the Beach was started, but it was never finished or put into its complete order till later. Everybody said that Harvest was a trip. To me I'd happened to be in the right place at the right time to do a really mellow record that was really open, 'cause that's where my life was at the time. But that was only for a couple of months. If I'd stayed there, I don't know where I'd be right now, if I'd just stayed real mellow. I'm just not that way anymore. I think Harvest was probably the finest record that I've made, but that's really a restricting adjective for me. It's really fine, but that's it."

 "Tonight's the Night didn't come out right after it was recorded because it wasn't finished. It just wasn't in the right space, it wasn't in the right order, the concept wasn't right. I had to get the colour right, so it was not so down that it would make people restless. I had to keep jolting every once in a while to get people to wake up so they could be lulled again. It's a very fluid album. The higher you are, the better it is. And it really lives up to that, a lot of records don't … you should listen to it late at night...Those mixes were a little unorthodox. Like it's real music. Sometimes I'd be on mic and sometimes I'd be two feet off it. Sometimes I'd be lookin' around the room and singin' back off mic…we'd have to bring it way back up in the mix to get it. And you can hear the echo in the room. We were all on stage at SIR just playing, with the PA system and everything, just like a live thing.

"I got tired of … I think what was in my mind when I made that record was I just didn't feel like a lonely figure with a guitar or whatever it is that people see me as sometimes. I didn't feel that laid back – I just didn't feel that way. So I thought I'd just forget about all that … wipe it out. Be as aggressive and as abrasive as I could to leave an effect, a long-term effect, that things change radically sometimes, it's good to point that out ... At SIR, when we were playing, and these two cats [Berry and Whitten] who had been a close part of our unit, our force, our energy, were both gone to junk, both of them OD'd. And now we're playing in a place where we're getting together to make up for what is gone and try to make ourselves stronger and continue. Because we thought we had it with Danny Whitten. At least I did. I thought that a combination of people that could be as effective as groups like the Rolling Stones had been … just for rhythm, which I'm really into. I haven't had that rhythm for a while and that's why I haven't been playing my guitar: because without that behind me I won't play. I mean, you can't get free enough. So I've had to play the rhythm myself ever since Danny died. Now I have someone who can play rhythm guitar, a good friend of mine...Nils is a lead player, basically. And when I use Nils – like on Tonight's the Night I used him for piano, and I played piano on a couple of songs and he played guitar. In the songs where he plays guitar he's actually playing the way Bruce Berry played guitar. The thing is I'm talking about him and you can hear him. So Nils just fits in – he plays that hot rock'n'roll-style guitar...It's just that there was a lot of spirit flyin' around when we were doin' it. It was like a tribute to those people, you know? Only the ones we chose no one had really heard of that much, but they meant a lot to us. That's why it gets spooky. 'Cause we were spooked. If you felt that I'm glad because it was there...The first horror record, a horror record …"

'Tonight's The Night'
full album:


All songs written by Neil Young except where noted. 

Side one
1. "Tonight's the Night" (with the Santa Monica Flyers) 4:39
2. "Speakin' Out" (with the Santa Monica Flyers) 4:56
3. "World on a String" (with the Santa Monica Flyers) 2:27
4. "Borrowed Tune" (Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Neil Young) 3:26
5. "Come on Baby Let's Go Downtown" (live from the 1970 tour with Crazy Horse) Neil Young, Danny Whitten 3:35
6. "Mellow My Mind" (with the Santa Monica Flyers) 3:07
Side two
1. "Roll Another Number" (with the Santa Monica Flyers) 3:02
2. "Albuquerque" (with the Santa Monica Flyers) 4:02
3. "New Mama"   2:11
4. "Lookout Joe" (with The Stray Gators) 3:57
5. "Tired Eyes" (with the Santa Monica Flyers)  4:38
6. "Tonight's the Night" (with the Santa Monica Flyers) 4:52

Saturday, June 27, 2015

a live one

Phish tweezed out some groovy gumbo with the bouncing brouhaha of this dionysian dogmatagram.   After forming in Burlington, Vermont in 1983, the group had developed a following with their improvisational performances, drawing comparisons to The Grateful Dead as well as Frank Zappa.  After four increasingly successful albums (Junta, Lawn Boy, A Picture of Nectar, Rift, and Hoist), the quartet finally decided to release their first live album.  'A Live One' was produced by Phish, taking each of its twelve songs from a different show in 1994.  The album features Trey Anastasio on guitars and vocals;   Page McConnell on keyboards and vocals;   Mike Gordon on bass guitar and vocals;   and  Jon Fishman on drums and vocals.   "Gumbo" was performed with The Giant Country Horns:   Peter Apfelbaum on tenor saxophone,  Carl Gerhard on trumpet,  Dave Grippo on alto saxophone,  James Harvey on trombone,  and  Michael Ray on trumpet.

Anastasio:           "There is absolutely a connection [with  the Grateful Dead]. We do share fans. I think its an energy thing and a sense of adventure. There's a similarity with the Dead shows because of the risk in improvisation. They do it. We do it. And you never know what's going to happen... I've seen the Dead once in the past seven years, but I saw them a lot when I was in high school. Personally, I've always listened to a lot of different kinds of music. I was just watching an old Zappa video on the bus last night. I always loved Zappa's compositional sense and his bands. We draw on bluegrass and the harmonies of traditional American music. And there's jazz. I just did a short, three-night tour with Michael Ray, who was a trumpet player with Sun Ra and did horn arrangements for Kool and the Gang.  He also came out and jammed with us on a couple of occasions. As far as the Dead, I like the sort of spirituality and transcendance thing they get into when they write and improvise...[The erratic nature of improvisation is] not as much of an on-off thing [for us] as it is with the Dead.  But it ensures that each night is different. We try to let the spontaneity take over. We just played Dallas the other night, and the last 65 minutes of the show were completely improvised. It wasn't planned, but it happened, and we just took off.  If it wasn't for nights like that, I wouldn't be doing this. I'm not traveling eight months out of the year just to sit in hotel rooms."

McConnell:        "The Grateful Dead is a very important band for us and for a lot of other bands. It's not that we deny their influence. But if there's a constant comparison all the time, I think that you're probably feeling... He was probably feeling frustration but you know, we've really all been to a lot of Dead shows and have all been influenced by the Dead, but lots of other bands also...We practice a good bit. Not so much for this tour, because we've been in the studio working on the new album since February. But usually before we go on tour, we spend anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months alone in bar in Vermont, practicing, and then we do different listening exercises...Suppose the 4 of us are the band and I start to play a phrase, then you hear what I'm playing and you start to play a phrase that goes along with. And everybody box in together and there's this litlle pattern whatever it is. And then we all aknowledge that we're all listening to each other, and we've all achieved the pattern, we say "Hey!". And that signifies the next person starts. And now you. It's your pattern. We're all focusing on you and then we say "Hey!" again, it just keeps going around and we call that the 'Hey!' exercise. It's one of the things we do. I mean that's avery simple exercise, but we practice listening to each other, trying different kinds of music, different kinds of groups, trying to offer suggestions to each other...The jazz? we all... the thing is maybe I sort of brought the jazz element to the band but we all listen to jazz. Now maybe Mike brought the bluegrass element to the band but we all listen to bluegrass. So, you know, we all played in bands in high school. We all had our own high school bands, we all had this idea pal, it was gonna be, you know, we've got a band. So we've got similar background, we appreciate each other."

Gordon:         "It borrows on some of the same philosophies as well as philosophies from other groups. You know, there’s the Frank Zappa influence and groups not found in pop music, but in other styles. But it takes a certain philosophy of jamming, in allowing the music to be, allowing the group mind to develop and the music to take on its own thing where the individuals aren’t controlling it, which the Dead definitely believe in. It adds a consciousness where some of the jamming is on more of a conscious level, and we’re making decisions, as a band, to suddenly switch the jam in a different direction.   We actually practice jamming exercises, and I think it’s the sort of thing that the Dead have never believed in – to practice jamming. But, with us, we’ve found that it’s listening exercises because, if a gig is good, it’s always that we’re hooked up as a unit and we’re listening to each other and are very aware. If it’s ever a bad gig, it tends to be when different band members are in their own worlds and aren’t aware of each other. So we do exercises in our practice room at home to make sure that we can hook up and that each person can hear each band member and react to each other. As a result, if we’re jamming, it’s possible that we’ll suddenly change the tempo to three times the speed, switch keys, and go off on a different… someone once described it as a herd of buffaloes that were going fast through a field and suddenly took a left turn together. But there are other people who actually described it, this sort of new direction in improvised music that we’re taking, as being sort of the coming together of a Dionysian and Apollonian values where the ecstasy of the Dionysian ritual is combined with the consciousness and thoughtfulness of the Apollonian ethic and combined into a new art form. In terms of modern music, some people have said that’s what’s happening with us...My theory is that ideally, if music is a meditation, and if everyone is accepting the moment and has faith in the moment and in the music as carrying us without letting the ego get involved too much, that there will be those moments when I’ll be standing there and another note will appear in the bass line, if it’s a pattern, and it will have come from somewhere else. Music will sort of metamorphosize, and the other people will hear it."

Fishman:          "[There's] one hundred and fifty [songs in our repertoire]. We pick some up to build a set list in which there’s some singing, good different grooves and feels. Then we actually perform 30 or 40 percent of this set list, because we change it according to the feeling onstage ... I saw [the connection with the fans] at my first Grateful Dead concert in the ‘80s. It is really a group thing. There is a higher purpose to the whole thing. Music suggests higher ways of living. I like the feeling we have on tour with people following us. I wish we would play more gigs. We used to play 180 gigs a year, now we only play about 90."

'A Live One' went to number eighteen on the US album chart and was certified platinum.



'A Live One' 
full album:


All songs written and composed by Trey Anastasio, Tom Marshall, except where noted.

disc one
"Bouncing Around the Room" – 4:08
"Stash" – 12:31
"Gumbo" (Anastasio, Jon Fishman) – 5:14
"Montana" (Anastasio, Fishman, Gordon, McConnell) – 2:04
"You Enjoy Myself" (Anastasio) – 20:57
"Chalk Dust Torture" – 6:48
"Slave to the Traffic Light" (Dave Abrahams, Anastasio, Steve Pollak) – 10:46
disc two
"Wilson" (Anastasio, Marshall, Aaron Woolf) – 5:07
"Tweezer" (Anastasio, Fishman, Gordon, McConnell) – 30:55
"Simple" (Gordon) – 4:53
"Harry Hood" (Anastasio, Fishman, Gordon, Brian Long, McConnell) – 15:11
"The Squirming Coil" – 12:30

recording dates
"Stash," July 8, 1994, Great Woods Center for the Performing Arts, Mansfield, MA
"The Squirming Coil," October 9, 1994, A. J. Palumbo Center, Pittsburgh, PA
"Harry Hood" October 23, 1994, Band Shell, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
"Tweezer," November 2, 1994, Bangor Auditorium, Bangor, ME
"Chalk Dust Torture," November 16, 1994, Hill Auditorium, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
"Slave to the Traffic Light," November 26, 1994, Orpheum Theatre, Minneapolis, MN
"Montana," November 28, 1994, Field House, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT
"Gumbo," December 2, 1994, Recreation Hall, University of California, Davis, Davis, CA
"You Enjoy Myself," December 7, 1994, Spreckels Theater Building, San Diego, CA
"Simple," December 10, 1994, Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, Santa Monica, CA
"Wilson," December 30, 1994, Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
"Bouncing Around the Room," December 31, 1994, Boston Garden, Boston, MA

Thursday, June 25, 2015


Sonic Youth hit the majors to rock the road with the whirlwind, heat, and flash of this liberating titanium exposé.   The critical acclaim afforded their previous album 'Daydream Nation' led to a deal with Geffen Records.  Lee Renaldo recalls:  "Daydream Nation was our last record on an independent label, Goo was the first record on a major, so it was a transition in a lot of ways. Daydream brought us to the top of the heap of the indie-college market and recognition by all of our peers; Daydream kind of capped off everything we set out to do when we started as a band, in terms of like wow, wouldn't it be great to make a record that a lot of people liked and listened to?   We satisfied a lot of those goals by the time we did Evol, Sister, and Daydream and at that point the question is where do you go from there? Of course you want to keep making good records, but I think there were certain aspects to the indie rock situation at that point where we were pushing the envelope a little bit too far. We weren't happy with the distribution we were getting, and a few other things. So for a lot of ways it made sense for us to jump to a major label right then, and it made sense in terms of challenging ourselves to put ourselves in new situations. Obviously if we'd stayed in the world of independent releases we would have, for a time at least, been, like, at the very top of the heap there where we were with Daydream. Instead, you jump into this major-label environment and you're kind of on the bottom again and you have to scrap a little harder for your position, and I think that was a challenge we all were interested in...I see it more than anything else as a record that signified our transition from being on an indie to a major. One thing that people commented on when it came out was how much the music was like songs. Some people didn't expect that and some people said, 'oh, they're on a major now, they're writing songs.' And for me, I think of the group as one in which there's always this pendulum swinging back and forth between writing shorter, more concise pieces until we get kind of sick of it and then writing pieces that get more sprawling and experimental and explore in different directions. We were at the end of that mode when we were making Daydream, which had all these long, structurally sprawling pieces on it, so I think the pendulum was naturally swinging back towards making a record of songs. It happened to coincide with switching to a major label.   I see it as a record where we were trying to create more discreet, individual songs...It was a chance to make a record that was all these discreet pieces that didn't flow together in that organic way that some of our previous work had...I think the thing that makes Goo  more accessible that way is that the production values are much higher. That was the other thing we were certainly experimenting with, with that record is that we finally had a real serious recording budget, where we could go into the same kind of studio that any big band would be able to go into and work in. That was a bit of a difference because it sort of took us out of the ghetto of having to work really quickly in really dirt-cheap studios. It put us in the same bracket as anybody else. That was definitely interesting to have a serious budget."

'Goo'   was recorded in New York City at Sorcerer Sound Recording Studios and Greene St. Recording and featured  Thurston Moore on vocals, guitar, and production;   Lee Ranaldo on guitar, vocals, and production;   Kim Gordon on vocals, bass guitar, and production;  and  Steve Shelley on drums, percussion, and production;     with    J Mascis on backing vocals and additional production;    Don Fleming on backing vocals, additional production, and additional percussion;   and   Chuck D providing additional vocals.   Nick Sansano was involved in production, recording,  additional engineering, and additional percussion; while  Ron Saint Germain handled production, engineering, mixing.   Dan Wood, John Herman, and Judy Kirschner were assistant engineers.  Howie Weinberg did the mastering and Jim Waters did additional recording.     The working title for the album was 'Blowjob?', which the band submitted to the executives at Geffen just to shake them up.  

Shelley said at the time:  "It was just something different to do. As opposed to repeating yourself time after time. We just wanted to write short songs that rocked. As compared to Daydream's long, drawn out songs kinda soft focused, ya know? It developed a really great mood, but in one way we wanted to change that for this album. Do something different basically...It doesn't feel that much different from what we've always done. Except for people are always asking us, like: 'How does it feel now that you're like big stars or now that you're on a major label?' And it doesn't feel like anything. It just feels like...it's like...ya know, there was yesterday, and here's today, and then there's tomorrow. They all just kinda go in a row; It's like there's no big change or anything. Ya know?"

'Goo' charted at number ninety-six in the US, seventy-one in the Netherlands, thirty-two in the UK, and twenty-two in New Zealand.  

Moore muses:    “The major companies have seen indie and alternative music which started about 12 years ago become proven successful through companies like SST and Rough Trade.   And the A&R people in the majors are the same age as the people running the indie labels. They are all in their late 20s or early 30s, so their sense of history is quite different from what went before.  But they also know you can’t just pick up really weird off-the-edge underground bands – there’s no reason to anyway. The only purpose for being on a major label is if you have a lot of sales and your indie can’t deal with the number of records you should be selling...They get the album we give them but they don’t own the music. We have total artistic control but we don’t exploit that by putting some nudes or something on the cover. I guess we could – but they wouldn’t distribute it, so what’s the point? ... They thought it looked like a bootleg and a bit of a bad move but we always wanted to use one of Ray Pettibon’s drawings because he’s one of our favourite artist. This was the right time to do it, now that we are corporate...That was another reason why we used the cover - Reagan’s return to another era which was supposedly so safe and sound. That picture is about the bad seed. It’s based on photography of teenagers who actually did kill their parents and hit the road. They are the other side of his supposedly safe era...In the future there may be more crossover between artists and politicians, even though most people who get involved in the arts are people like myself who aren’t particularly articulate. We have another form of communication...But punk and hardcore, as much press as it got, was not exploited the way hippies were. Hardcore was huge but if it had been exploited it could have been massive maximum rock’n’roll – and it was totally independent of corporations...It’s important people know that music is a free thing and not to be dictated by anyone.”

Gordon considers:   "It was Raymond Pettibon who once said that Hippie and Punk were just opposite sides of the same coin...We may have gone to a major label, but when we went on tour with Neil Young, we learned pretty quickly that we weren’t part of the mainstream – his audiences hated us! And being on a major label didn’t change us. We pretty much continued to do what we wanted to, including a lot of experimental stuff. Geffen never really promoted us, but in return they never pressured us either, or told us we had to go back and edit a song to turn it into something commercial. It was only when we signed with Matador that I realized in some ways that 'These are our people,' and not the other guys...There’s such a thing as art that’s entertaining or that presents itself as entertainment – art that is kind of showbizzy. Entertainment lives in its own context, outside a museum, and it’s usually more about escapism, whereas I’ve always considered art to be more confrontational ... [For the song  "Tunic (Song for Karen)"], I wanted to put Karen Carpenter [who died of anorexia] up in heaven playing drums and being happy. This whole thing about teenage girls cutting themselves and that being associated with anorexia and girls being conditioned to having such a big desire to please – I'm just curious, because of [my daughter] Coco, at what point do girls start getting their sense of self-worth and [need to please] people, and why don't they have anything else? ... I was trying to put myself into Karen’s body. It was like she had so little control over her life, like a teenager – they have so little control over what’s happening to them that one way they can get it is through what they eat or don’t. Also I think she lost her identity, it got smaller and smaller. And there have been times when I feel I’ve lost mine. When people come and ask me about being famous or whatever and I don’t feel that, it’s not me. But it makes me think about it. The music is definitely about the darker side. But I also wanted to liberate Karen into heaven."


full album:




All music composed by Sonic Youth (Thurston Moore, Kim Gordon, Lee Ranaldo, Steve Shelley).

1. "Dirty Boots"   5:28
2. "Tunic (Song for Karen)"   6:22
3. "Mary-Christ"   3:11
4. "Kool Thing" 4:06
5. "Mote"   7:37
6. "My Friend Goo"   2:19
7. "Disappearer"   5:08
8. "Mildred Pierce"   2:13
9. "Cinderella's Big Score"   5:54
10. "Scooter + Jinx"     1:06
11. "Titanium Exposé"   6:27