Kill yr Idols / Resurrect yr Idols.
A favourite band. An album with some great tunes but a lot of wank as well. Ever wanted to prune it, redo the track listing and even remix it. That’s what this series is about.
I blame the CD for Sonic Youth’s less than stellar albums. Vinyl meant that bands kept their cheese and crap ideas to b-sides or worked out how a song should be while playing it live. CDs meant purposeless, indulgent and intellectual exercises could pad out the extra minutes on a CD. And though Sonic Youth could be fucking arch intellectuals but were rarely boring until the ‘90s.
Okay, Kim Gordon had the non-singing voice of a fallen angel, Lee Ranaldo’s guitar playing led to the founding of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Guitar Strings and Thurston Moore was obviously the sadistic schizophrenic of the music world as he teased with pretty melodies and bubblegum pop sensibilities before pressing you down with a claustrophobic wall of feedback. But I like that sort of stuff.
Now some bands might not even have had enough good songs for an A and B seven inch single but Sonic Youth could often justify a double album sprawl despite being only a step away from turn-the-fucker-off indulgence. For me that happened with NYCG&F, which has never moved me – except to take it to the barely played record shop. However, I came close to losing it with A Thousand Leaves
I love it. I hate. I love it. I hate it
I bought it when I was living with a tempestuous ex. I remember putting the headphones on to not disturb her and closing my eyes. I had Wildflower soul on repeat as soon as it finished. It was like sex with the tempestuous ex. It was like life with the tempestuous ex. The whole album was my relationship with the tempestuous ex. It was great sex. It was misunderstood. It was anxious. It was ugly then beautiful. It was doomed to failure but worth persevering with for a while. There were large parts where you just stopped listening until you heard something nice and we fucked again, forgetting we had just tried to stomp on each other’s dreams. We tried to understand each other but that just made us bored and irritable with each other. It – like us, like me now – overshared without consideration and went nowhere. Harmony. Disharmony.
How judicious use of the tape deck made the album a favourite
When we separated I got back the use of my own tape deck and cut it down to one side of a C-90. My favourite moments, in this order:
The last two minutes of Heather Angel; Sunday; Hoar Frost; Snare, Girl; Wildflower Soul; Hits of Sunshine; Contre Le Sexisme and French Tickler with about two minutes ungainly edited out between 1:30 and 3:30.
I could have edited the album in other ways, it wasn’t that I disliked Heather Angel, French Tickler, Karen Koltrane, Female Mechanic on Duty and The Ineffable Me but I would’ve needed to be in a special place to appreciate them in their entirety (but as I think that special place involves wielding an axe in a public place and/or disinterestedly picking apart animal corpses while in a K-hole I’m not sure, cos they are not things I’ve done). Damn, those tunes get on my nerves. They annoy like noise cos they meander and are gruff like a pissed-up arsehole in a pub whose conversation is fucking hard to follow, especially because you’ve just been conversing with this other beauty.
The beauty being the rest of the album. And my is it pretty – mysterious. alluring pretty. Even the squalling breakdown on Wildflower is pretty and focused and you know it will return to prettiness so you accept the journey. You lose yourself in it. But that’s 40 minutes out of about 70 and a lower hit rate than Washing Machine that had some yawn moments as well.
Start at 4:00 in
To be honest, I wish I could edit Experimental…, Washing Machine and NYCG&F as well. Less is more.
Imagine Experimental as
Side 1: Bull In The Heather, Waist, Starfield Road, In The Mind Of The Bourgeois Reader, Sweet Shine
Side 2: Self-Obsessed And Sexxee, Androgynous Mind, Bone, Tokyo Eye, Doctor’s Orders
No need for the other four tracks. They’d be b-sides that fans would argue about as being good enough for the album but I think they slow it down and are inconsequential.
Anybody else want to do one of these. I’m sure there must be some Dylan, Stones, Beatles, Stone Roses or Bowie Albums that need pruning. (He says mischievously.)