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Sonic Youth - Dirty

  by Jon Rogers

published: 23 / 5 / 2003

Sonic Youth - Dirty
Label: Select Label
Format: CD X2


Worthy re-appraisal and re-evaluation with additional B sides and "rehearsal recordings" of Sonic Youth's much under-rated 1992 album, 'Dirty'

This double-album from New York's pioneers that made art-rock cool to listen to re-releases 1992's 'Dirty' plus a whole load of b-sides and so-called "rehearsal recordings" from the recording sessions. As one that never thought 'Dirty' was ever that bad as some made out at the time, the question that hangs over this is why the need to apparently re-evaluate the album and, more importantly, why now? The first is easy to answer. Followers of the band that produced the masterpieces of 'Sister' and 'Evol' as well as 'Daydream Nation' saw the Youth having been compromised and affected by signing to a major label. The argument ran that they'd taken the corporate major-label dollar and now the company demanded its pay-off. And look at the previous 'Goo' - some great tracks but nothing to rival previous achievements. No one actually bothered to consider that maybe the band had taken the cash and still gone on to do what they'd actually wanted to anyway. They'd been around long enough to know what they were getting themselves into. And that's not a defence of the big record labels, they can be just as bad as any corporate organisation that puts commercial considerations as the be all and end all of its decisions. But why now? Probably it has something to do with the success of 'Murray Street' and the current interest in American bands that can play the odd chord or two. 'Dirty' itself though is the closest the band get to making any sort of coherent stance. Before Kim Gordon had made feminist statements in songs like 'Flower', but these had never been at the forefront. Now with 'Swimsuit Issue' she made her feelings perfectly clear and forthright: "Don't touch my breast". 'Youth Against Fascism' a straight-ahead, unambiguous rant also needs no explanation. For the most part songs were drenched in bucketloads of guitar thrash. There was textures too. 'Shoot' rumbles along, containing the ominous threat of menace around the corner, like David Lynch's 'Lost Highway'. The single 'Sugar Kane' found a great scruffy pop hook and ran with it, having fun on the way. The last quarter of the album falls down though. 'Nic Fit' is like some Oi band on helium. Fortunately it only last 59 seconds. 'Crème Brulee' could have been sidelined to the outtakes. With this expanded version included are 8 former B-sides which see the band in playful mood - especially on their version of the New York Dolls' 'Personality Crisis'. Then there is a whole load of (largely) instrumental tracks from the recording sessions at the time. Most can be filed under the heading 'Work in Progress' and what sound like vague jam sessions that experiment with ideas, but need to be worked-up into something more substantial. Hardened fans can listen and try to spot snatches of songs that would later appear fully-dressed on the finished record. If the re-packaging is meant to mean a re-assessment of the album it's difficult to see what these extra recordings will add. Sceptics aren't going to be persuaded by what largely amounts to unfocused doodling. Flicking through say Picasso's notebooks isn't going to convince the unbeliever of his genius. Viewing 'Guernica', his horror painting of the Spanish Civil War, will. This deluxe edition is unlikely to win over any new converts but will keep hardened fans happy.

Track Listing:-
1 100%
2 Swimsuit Issue
3 Theresa's Sound-World
4 Drunken Butterfly
5 Shoot
6 Wish Fulfillment
7 Sugar Kane [Clean]
8 Orange Rolls, Angel's Spit
9 Youth Against Fascism
10 Nic Fit
11 On The Strip
12 Chapel Hill
13 JC
14 Purr
15 Creme Brulee
16 Stalker
17 Genetic
18 Hendrix Necro
19 The Destroyed Room
20 Is It My Body
21 Personality Crisis
22 The End Of The End Of The Ugly
23 Tamra
24 Little Jammy Thing
25 Lite Damage (Rehearsal Tapes Version)
26 Dreamfinger (Rehearsal Tapes Version)
27 Barracuda (Rehearsal Tapes Version)
28 New White Kross (Rehearsal Tapes Version)
29 Guido (Rehearsal Tapes Version)
30 Stalker (Rehearsal Tapes Version)
31 Moonface (Rehearsal Tapes Version)
32 Poet In The Pit (Rehearsal Tapes Version)
33 Theoretical Chaos (Rehearsal Tapes Version)
34 Youth Against Fascism (Rehearsal Tapes Version)
35 Wish Fulfillment (Rehearsal Tapes Version)

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