329. silver rocket

Silver Rocket may well be the perfect Sonic Youth nugget. On one level, it’s a ripping cool pop song about riding a silver rocket, I guess, or perhaps heroin. On another, it’s a metaphysical hand grenade that blows a gaping hole through the reality barrier into the next nineteen dimensions. And it accomplishes all of this in barely three minutes.” (Philip Random)

SonicYouth-1988-liveBLUR

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347. whatcha gonna do about it?

“It’s the noise that hooked me on this Small Faces nugget. Only 1966 and it’s already in evidence, tearing up the dimensions. The whole song‘s a blast really, sub-two-minutes of sheer fun and spite. Definitely not a love song.” (Philip Random)

SmallFaces-1966-live

373. the murder mystery

“The raw, reductive simplicity of the Velvet Underground is one of the foundation blocks of everything that has mattered since 1965, musically or otherwise. But their story is not remotely complete without a chapter or seven devoted to their more avant concerns, which Murder Mystery illustrates rather nicely, coming across like premeditated murder of all conventions, expectations, intentions. John Cale was gone by 1969, but you can’t help but feel that when he heard it, he thought, man, I wish I’d had a piece of that. Deadly and mysterious and not entirely unmusical.” (Philip Random)

VelvetUnderground-1969-hangingOut

403. what a day

“The first time I even heard the name Throbbing Gristle, it forced a reaction. Like a strong (not necessarily bad) smell had suddenly filled the room that you couldn’t not notice. Which is rather how What A Day sounds. Go ahead and dismiss it as noise, but good luck ignoring it. I like to think of it as a top 40 single from an alternate reality where lying is illegal, punishable by death. So if someone’s stupid enough to ask you how your day went and it truly sucked, you’d be compelled to unleash.” (Philip Random)

ThrobbingGristle-posing

405. ad nauseum

Fad Gadget’s Ad Nauseum is 1984 in a nutshell. A bitter gagging bile finally coalescing as full-on meltdown into noise … and yet it’s fun and artful, musical even. And it will forever remind me of old friend Carl who never failed to be in ownership of a rusting boat of a car (always GM product), which he’d recklessly plow through traffic, the music cranked loud, his hatred of all other drivers voiced even louder. Yet he never hit anything … until that one time he side-swiped a fire truck, and he was drunk. That didn’t go over well. In fact, I’m guessing it all sounded like the end of Ad Nauseum.”

FadGadget-1984-blur

441. total trash

“The song part of Total Trash is cool enough, but part two is what makes it essential – the noise part, what happens when the various rules of music break down and pure escape velocity takes over. I remember seeing Sonic Youth perform this live in maybe 1991 and having one of those profound and prolonged WOW moments that I can’t help calling religious. I remember thinking, they aren’t really playing this music, they’re just channeling it, deflecting it, aiming it, wrestling with it. It’s like they’d punched a hole in a cosmic dike and suddenly it was all just about containment. But not even that. Because this kind of flood can’t be contained. All you can really do is ride it, keep moving, keep playing, because if you don’t, you’ll get dragged under, and where’s the glory in that?” (Philip Random)

SonicYouth-1988-live

448. hit the hi-tech groove

“Was I cool enough to be hip to Pop Will Eat Itself in 1987? I think so. Or maybe it took until 1988. Those were weird days, and seriously, I wasn’t the cool one, it was the people I was hanging with. By 1987-88, I was deep in a negative hole of my own making (though the Reagan Administration had helped), which was manifesting musically as NOISE, and also looking backward, digging through old records, because I couldn’t afford cool new ones. Which by 1987-88 meant Hip-Hop if you were even half paying attention. And I was, I guess, I just wasn’t buying much, because I was so broke. Which reflects now in how woefully misrepresented that form is on this list. Because it’s all there (Guideline #1). Except I did buy Box Frenzy. Or maybe somebody just gave it to me, no doubt because they’d decided Pop Will Eat Itself weren’t properly cool anyway, being white guys, and long-haired geeks at that (Grebo was the name of the scene). But I’d pretty much given up on cool by the end of high school anyway. Lucky me.” (Philip Random)

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536. the need

Mysterious live performance from somewhere in Europe, 1983. Chris + Cosey (late of Throbbing Gristle) exploring strange sonic regions via the nebulously labelled CTI – European Rendezvous album. This was the kind of thing you’d record off the radio back in the day, late night weirdness, the DJ never telling you who it was. Maybe a decade later, you’d finally figure it out.

Chris+Cosey-1983

559. expressway to yr skull

Evol (the name of the album in question) is love spelled backward, which is pretty much what was going on in 1991, Vancouver’s Pacific Coliseum, as Sonic Youth warmed up Neil Young + Crazy Horse, choosing not to pander even slightly to all the aging hippies in the house, but rather to deliver unto them a profound and beautiful and sustained NOISE. The climax came with Expressway to Yr Skull, which actually starts out kind of nice, but then ‘We’re Gonna Kill – The California Girls – We’re gonna fire the exploding load in the milkmaid maidenhead.’  The hippies were very confused, angry even, but I just laughed. The times, they just kept a-changing.” (Philip Random)

SonicYouth-1991-liveCHAOS