Sonic Youth – Daydream Nation, the first ‘art’,’drone’, ‘grunge’ (call it what you will) album I bought after my earlier discovery of Pixies. A guitar driven album built upon discord, violence and beauty. Thurston Moore described this album as sounding ‘like the 1 train pulling out of Time Square’, such an accurate description as this album screeches and crashes and clashes as it hits your ear drum. A phenomenal album.
My memory is very sketchy as to why I bought this album. There are 3 different stories which may have lead me to the buy the album but 20 years on I can’t remember what came first. So I hope that by writing down all three stories they may jog my memory and make me a happy man for a day or two!!
1. In the 80’s NME, every few months, would give away a free 7 inch single. The single would have 3 or 4 artists on it, generally 2 on each side. The first single was released in 1985 and featured Bronski Beat (Hard Rain), Cocteau Twins (Ivo), The Smiths (What She Said (live)) and U2 (Wire). Very collectable now although I’d just found this single selling for 99p on Ebay!!!
In February 1987 NME added to the free EP series by releasing an single entitled NME’s Hat Trick. This single included Steinski & Mass Media (The Motorcade Sped On), Sonic Youth (White Cross Live In Tallahassee, Florida) and Sly & Robbie (When You're Hot You're Hot)
This was the first time that I’d heard Sonic Youth, the guitar was loud and very aggressive, clashing and battling with the rhythm section. I’d never heard guitar like this before, it wasn’t until I later saw them that I found out that they achieved these sound by de-tuning and jamming a screwdriver under the strings on the fret board! I still have the single, probably under my old bed at my Mum and Dad’s house, scratched to death and over played.
So did I buy Daydream Nation on the back of this single?? Possibly, I first heard Sonic Youth in February 1987 and Daydream Nation was released in October 1988.
2. Snub TV – BBC 2 once aired a music Series called Snub TV. The idea of the programme was to showcase bands that were not mainstream and were being ‘snubbed’ by the likes of The Tube, Whistle Test and Top of The Pops! This programme helped me discover many new bands. I particularly remember seeing Dinosaur Jr for the first time on this show playing Freak Scene. The programme also included Utra Vivid Scene, Spaceman 3, World Domination Enterprises and the Stone Roses.
Sonic Youth appeared on Snub TV with an extended piece where they performed Teenage Riot and Providence, both from Daydream Nation. The piece also included film of the band being interviewed. I remember very clearly Thurston Moore claiming that Sharon Tate’s foetus was king of the hippies!
I videoed this particular show and played it again and again. I loved everything about this band, so much so that I started to copy their fashion, adopted a drop-out attitude and stuck a screwdriver in my lovely Vox Les Paul!!
So did I buy Daydream Nation on the back of this appearance on Snub TV??
3. My friend, Andy Tubb called me and asked me if I wanted to go see Sonic Youth. It was the Daydream Nation tour, Kilburn National Ballroom on 23rd of March 1989. Sonic Youth were being supported by Mudhoney! (Expect the inclusion of Super Fuzz Big Muff in my top 50 soon!)
The gig was brilliant, everything that i expected it to be, loud and sweaty. In between songs, Thurston would put on a tape of The Carpenters whilst they swapped guitars or tuned up. I also remember him asking the lighting man to make him green, ‘I can only play the guitar when I’m green’!!!
The night ended with Mudhoney joining Sonic Youth on stage for the final encore, ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’ by the Stooges. At some point Mark Arm (Mudhoney) leap onto Thurston and pulled his trousers down!!! A very good night!!!
So did I buy Daydream Nation on the back of this gig??? You know what, I don’t know and I don’t really care!! I’ve got the album, and that is all that counts!!!
Sonic Youth on Snub TV 1989