Kill yr Idols / Resurrect yr Idols

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.

Our fear keeps watch over us. (2)

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.

Reasons

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.)

14 thoughts on “Kill yr Idols / Resurrect yr Idols

  1. This is hard, I don’t listen to full albums very much these days. But the one that springs to mind is London Grammar and the album “If You Wait”. Some fabulous tracks, and then track 8, “Interlude”, could go – perhaps onto another album, there’s nothing wrong with it, it just breaks the flow. Similarly track 13 (“High Life”), which sounds a bit like Sade (I like Sade, but not on a London Grammar album); and track 14, “Maybe”. Then the last two tracks can stay ‘cos they’re ace. So the track list is:Hey Now/Stay Awake/Shyer/Sights/Strong/Nightcall/Metal and Dust/Flickers/If You Wait/Help/Darling Are You Gonna Leave Me/When We Were Young/Wasting My Young Years. Less is more.

    • I hear what you’re saying. I’ll reorder the tracks as you say.

      By the way, I don’t expect anybody to listen to A Thousand Leaves – even the really good bits.

  2. I’m really enjoying this, can i say that i really like SY now? Not that i ever didn’t, just never really got a handle on them before. Thanks! This is great.

    One album that needs some serious pruning is the White Album, but i seem to recall that we all took a pop at it on a thread on here, maybe one of Sev’s?

      • Ok. I actually gave the Stones a quick thought last night. Exile all i want to get rid of is Turd On the Run and Just Want to See His Face. Ok, if we’re really being picky, maybe Loving Cup and the two covers. So that’s a whole side then, but still not a bad show for a double album. You’ll have to go later, i think. I could lose half of Some Girls easily, they should have tossed some of those and kept some of the ones from the re-issue instead.

        Now there’s an idea too, which songs from an album would you swap with outtakes or new tracks from the re-issues.

        • Oh! Imagine Some Girls with Everything’s Turning to Gold -the full 9 minute version sitting next to Miss You Disco Version. Or Claudine, So Young, Do You Think on it.

          I’ll lay into the next album after that – Emotional Rescue . so many outtakes are superior…

          I’d probably not touch Exile because I just like everything – even those three outliers that you mention.

          • I like the two covers on Exile just fine, but if we wanted to trim down a side…I never liked Loving Cup much, but it seems to be a fave of a lot of other people – Jack White covered it and someone else i think did too.

          • The long version of Miss You And Everything Is Turning to Gold are really something I wish they had kept up with – rawer and funkier. It’s as if they were trying to avoid the funkier elements in their sound.

      • I seem to remember we had a Pimp that Track series on here awhile ago, but i had a hard time with it because i just don’t know enough about recording to know what to change. Pimp that Album seems an easier prospect.

  3. I think that – many years ago – Carole posted about Led Zeppelin’s “Houses of the Holy”. How it could have been much better if they had discarded some of the tracks chosen for release and included a few that were held over for “Physical Graffiti”.

    • That sounds good – I probably approach Zep the way most people approach Sonic Youth, so I’m glad to hear that fans thinks they have faults.

      I’m not precious about the bands I like. The Stones have been misogynist, bandwagon-jumping, irrelevant, tax-avoiding, phoning it in arses for a long-time but I still love them and me saying the Dirty Work album would’ve made a nice standalone single won’t hurt them at all. 🙂

      BTW One of the weirdest things I saw recently was Lee “Scratch” Perry singing Keith Richards’ praises “I love the Keith Richards”. I’ve since secretly harboured the idea of seeing LSP, KR and Mad Professor doing a live gig. Maybe with Sly and Robbie as well. Nothing but a loose structure… File that under gigs/events you want to see.

  4. I thought I was queen of the over sharing…?! You’ve stolen my top spot with this one, which I found both insightful and amusing. Don’t know enough about either album to know if your are talking sense or utter bollocks. I suspect the former.

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