Monday, April 12, 2010

Beautiful Jukebox: The Music of Sonic Youth (Selection 4--He's Why I'm Not Giving Letter Grades)

October 1983

Another EP, but this one's an extended player for real-for real, meaning that no one has ever beat the tight-ass drum for its inclusion on the SY timeline of albums. The first half of the record consisting of two previously released songs and a live version of one of said songs has approximately everything to do with that.

Largely unheard by people who would care until 1995, when DGC tacked it onto the Confusion Is Sex reissue, Kill Yr Idols was initially released only in Germany. This fact is fantastic, as it evokes a vibrant tableau of festive German hoisting steins that feature Kim Gordon's CIS cover art etched onto the side, nary a care in their worlds. It also indicates that the band had to have convened at some point to decide the ideal market for their killer li'l stop-gap.

"Why Germany?"
"Gotta release it somewhere, man."
"Reich and roll!"
"We should really wake Kim up and hear her take on this."
"No, she looks so peaceful!"
"Okay, fine, Germany."
"Is it too late to superimpose a Hitler stache on the cover?"

As one who is herself part German (and who also speaks that language of romance), I say Sonic Youth should have exclusively released every one of their P's (E and L alike) in Germany, right up till the sellout. 'Cause Germany at its best is humanity at its best. Oh sure, you can say the inverse is true as well, and that the atrocities of the nation include many of the world's nadirs. That's fine. No one denies that. (Actually, a lot of people do, but fuck them. I push them off to the same cobweb-coated corner of the room I reserve for the folk who shun Sonic Youth's music and influence. And really, can you name a more repugnant example of homosapien than the Sonic Youth-hating Holocaust denier? Ugh.) But we should also celebrate the beer, the pretzeled bread, the what the fuck is a bratwurst, Kraftwerk, Neu!, and other marvelously influential music acts whose names you are probably mispronouncing right now.

And of course...Germany got Kill Yr Idols first.

"Protect Me You"
"Shaking Hell"

I reviewed these already, I shan't repeat m'self. Age, toil, and an overabundance of stimuli are turning my brain to a mighty paste most certainly, but not all of my faculties are lounging just yet.

"Shaking Hell (live")--On record, Kim's convincing enough, but it's all about proximity. Studio Kim will remove your dress, then flesh...if she's close enough. Live, raw, unfettered Kim? The sheer hellish vacuum she creates via her banshee beseechment leave no maneuver room.

When the Yooz reinserted this into their nightly setlists for 2006's Rather Ripped tour, Kim proved that her 53-year-old self was still able to dip into the reserve of bloodthirst and dredge up howls fit to tame unspeakable horror, even as she herself was decked out heavenly night after night in names, darling, names.

(I almost always end up at the front for Sonic Youth concerts, and it's got jack sprat to do with being recognized, or to show off my Snoopy tees, and jill-all to do with freeing my peripheral vision from having to peep some bored faces of fuck sipping their inferior-tasting lager, texting their blogger friend, or yakking with their buddy about some bullshit that is unrelated to the awesome.)

"Kill Yr Idols"--A screed against Village Voice scribe/"pigfuck" coiner Robert Christgau, whose alleged death via enormous penis would prove but a rumor (and who a decade later would become one of the band's most frequent and articulate defenders in critic society, when the band had distanced itself enough sonically from the pork pounders/bacon bangers they came up amid).

I don't know why no one has edited a YouTube clip showing clips from American Idol under this song. ("Let that shit die!" right as Cowell is smirking at some ridiculous numbnuts. Would be beautiful.)

The song doesn't resemble the speedy, snot-nosed ramble the title might suggest to some till just pre-chorus and at the very end; mainly it just sounds on speed and mucous-coated. While it's very cool to rev up the engine and hear Thurston ravage his young throat, I actually like the less-psychotic approach better. It got the glow like a worm on a slow burn rubber baby buggy bumper cars into walls at 120 mph.

"Brother James"--This one's never really left the setlist and here's why. The word "incontinent" ain't just for the oldsters. I'd also say this one's "tribal," but not just for the riveting stomp and recoil; this is one that brings every subset of SY fan together to celebrate and marvel. New fans, diehards, casuals, jaded jag-offs who've sneered at everything since '88...everyone loves this fuckin' song. Everyone loses their shit, a few of them for good.

"Brother James" is the true birth of true blood. Kim suffuses the sordid saga of Jim Jones the Kool-Aid Cultmaster Balla with red, black and brown, in the process making the first of many songs SY would dedicate to people who really didn't deserve the honor.

"Take my hand you might as well"


"We're goin'/STRAIGHT TO HELL!"


Sweet jumpin' cakes.

"Early American"--Thurston let slip some time ago that he dug this tune a lot outta all the early SY offerings. This is the most you will often hear about this song. It's like a proto-"Ghost Bitch," but better, a sorceress cant snared and blared through a broken-hearted amp. The jarring one-two blow of this and "Brother James" more than hinted at the greatness to come.

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