The Deluxe Edition series are usually found to be re-releasing classic albums and slapping together studio outtakes, b-sides and live tracks. So it was only a matter of time before the good people at Deluxe Edition stumbled onto Sonic Youth, the eighties noise-punkers with a stream of classic albums behind them. But the question is, what were they thinking" First came Dirty
's Deluxe Edition, which was disturbingly unncessary. It wasn't that great of an album in the first place, so why beef it up to a $60 two CD package with outtakes that were taken out for a reason" Okay, so they chose one bad choice. Maybe they'll get it right next time.
Well, they've done it again. Here's Goo
's Deluxe Edition, and while it's definitely an improvement, it's still no Sister
or Daydream Nation
box-set. Jam-packed with b-sides and rehearsals and enough outtakes to satisfy even the most needy of bootleggers, this package has it all in terms of diversity. But is it worth your $60" I'm here to help you out, and I'll try my best to keep things brief.
Sonic Youth - Goo Deluxe Edition
Thruston Moore - Guitar, Vocals
Kim Gordon - Bass, Vocals
Lee Ranaldo - Guitar, Vocals
Steve Shelley -Drums
The Original Album (Released 6/26/90):
is the sequel to the downright epic Daydream Nation
, it doesn't seem to tie it's ends with the masterpiece. Loose, ill-mannered and at times patience testing, Goo
is for the most part DN
's bad twin. Which isn't entirely bad, especially when it comes to the ferocious, gritty and intense performances scattered across the album. But somehow, Sonic Youth have teamed these qualities up with laziness and lack of effort. For the most part, the noisy songs on the album are somehow illegible as to how they could be deemed songs. Songs like Mildred Pierce
would have been alot better if more thought had been put into them, say by adding actual lyrics and vocals. Instead, the Youth just cram 2:14 worth of the same three chord riff and uninspired solos, and finishes off with a massive scream-fest that doesn't play well on the years, unless you enjoy being screamed at. It's also un-enjoyable when 1:05 seconds of sharp, obnoxious and dirty guitar noise - not that quiet, fuzzed hum that made the Youth's previous efforts so enjoyable - gets slapped together to form what is evident as filler. But when these kinds of songs are assembled in-between several songs of purely enjoyable, intellectual and at times (most notable on Titanium Exposé
) even beautifully disfigured hums of feedback, mumbled vocals and a powerful, driving force found in the rhythm section.
These kinds of songs are not rare on this album. Most notably, however, are the two more gargantuan, or best, songs on the album Mote
(fronted by Lee Ranaldo on vocals) and the narrative Tunic (Song for Karen) Mote
falls in at more than seven minutes long, but it seems as though every minute something new comes in to make the song frequently interesting. As Lee gives a decent, if a little dull and uninspired, performance on lead vocals, the music takes on a ferocious yet still maintained toll, which can only lead into interesting paths for seemingly every instrument. As the music hums on at a steady pace, you can get the occasional, and very rewarding, listen of Thruston strangling his guitar into a suiting maniacal mess. After the actual song dies out, you're left gasping for three minutes while various and glorious sounds run through the speakers, creating a frankly peaceful listen. Tunic (Song for Karen)
is undoubtedly the forté of this album. The song features Kim mumbling about Karen's approach on fame and struggle with anorexia, and Kim does a marvellous job of keeping it from getting boring (Kim uses her story-telling voice amazingly well in this song). The music, however, is the real highlight. The abrupt feedback emitting from Lee and Thruston's amps are forceful, yes, but when the song begins to take form things only get better. The slight, comforting and fuzzed tones that come through are something breathtaking, but it's really the chorus that is incredible. The slow, dramatic and messy formula of the music is the perfect compliment to Kim's melancholic and poetic vocal performance. Nothing short of an absolute masterpiece.
This album is filled with miscellaneous moments that bring out a smile in the listener, but the main problem is that they're scattered about. Take the somewhat-title track My Friend Goo
for example. The simple, 1-2-3-4 beats, the lack of variety in chords, and the awesome vocal performance from Kim just make this a real gem, despite the fact that it's truly horrible at heart. But it's mostly the lyrics that bring song it's swift and listenable deliverance. Who doesn't want to hear those amazingly unenthusiastic vocal performances from the guys" Dirty Boots
is mostly a slow and dreary song, but when the rock 'n' roll at heart chorus rolls along it transforms briefly into a fist pumping rock anthem, with the screech of guitar and the wail of "Dirty BOOOTS". And the finale Titanium Exposé
is twenty minutes of punk brutality rolled into a six and a half minute package, therefore rendering more listenable than one would imagine. The song has a beginning, which is absolutely hard-hitting punk rock, a middle, which is the slower, more controlled performances while sporting the same riff and suiting, enthusiastic (from Thruston, anyway) vocals, and the finale which is the most unforgiving section on Goo
as a whole; it sounds like the apocalypse caught on record.
Out-Takes, B-Sides & Rehearsals:
For this section, Sonic Youth have assembled a few hidden gems from the past. Whether it's the unfortunately titled Lee #2
, which is a slower, mellower and somehow interesting continuation to Mote
, or the live gem The Bedroom
("What do you do when your mom is a skinhead"" asks Thruston. "Write a song about it".), which contains a formula that The White Stripes
have copied time and time again. Garage rock at it's finest. But what keeps things interesting is the irrepressable variety that five songs can have to offer. When you first listen to Lee #2
, the calming sense of ballad soothe your soul, but the slacked off musical work and simplicity of That's All I Know (Right Now)
regain your attention. Dr. Benway's House
is the resident noise filler that really doesn't deserve your attention, and Tuff Boyz
is the stretched out filler song that shouldn't even be considered noise. At most, it's an eight year old trying to play his favorite solo but failing miserably. It isn't entertaining at all, and it's no longer a myster as to why the last few songs were out-takes. People didn't want to hear them.
I've always been a fan of 8-track demos, mostly because of thier unique, un-controlled and true sound. Naturally gritty, always edgy and entertaining, it seems that with these kinds of qualities Sonic Youth would've done the whole album in their basement with an 8-track. It's a blessing that Geffen re-released Sonic Youth's basement demos, because they are undoubtedly the highlight of this Deluxe Edition. Whether it be carbon copies of songs (mostly on Tunic
, but the production is nevertheless rawer and more enjoyable. It's also hard to distinguish Animals (Mary Christ)
from the original), two minute songs stretched into epic jams of guitar noise (Blowjob (Mildred Pierce)
) or even songs that had considerable length in the first place but shortened down into mini-epics (Bookstore (Mote)
, which is excellent because it crams over seven minutes of pure energetic noise rock forced into a little bottle-length 4:16). In essence, this really is better than the actual album itself because it has fewer cares and more energy, something that a studio can rarely capture as well as an 8-track. A studio can be confining, especially to a band like Sonic Youth who prefer the primitive way of recording things. Therefore, this was an essential addition to this collection because it can give listeners a more energetic and ambitious way of hearing things. This is how Goo
was meant to be.
And thus, we're left with the final four songs on this reissue. We're faced with what could make or break this Deluxe Edition. What's awesome, however, is that they chose to end the album on a seemingly commercial-esque track, where we get introduced to Thruston as he takes us through the album track by track (but in no particular order). The music is played in the background, which serves as the perfect undercoating to Thruston's whispering, creepy and hoarse commentaries. Too much interesting stuff to mention, you'll have to hear it for yourself. But truly, the best place to end the album would've been the gargantuan, laid back and truly inspirational cover of The Beach Boy
’s I Know There's An Answer
. Truly, this song is a fantastic song that really should've made the album, because it's as good as the peak of Goo
, perhaps even surpasses the greatest moments. Lee leads us into a song that, save for the raw production, is as clean as Sonic Youth get, especially with their pop-influenced vocals. Truly, this is the Youth's best performance on this deluxe edition in and out of itself. Perfect in every sense, it's truly a feast for the ears. The other two songs, however, aren't too great. They're just the same recycled garage rock that was deleted from the album for a reason. Dirty guitars, simple two chord arrangements and an abusive sound don't exactly make for the most rewarding listen, but it's fun for just going crazy.
Well, that's it. If you've stayed with me for this immense and difficult journey, you'd come to the conclusion that this is worth the money for Sonic Youth fans. It's got everything you could ask for, save more maybe a few more live tracks and alternate approaches to songs, but this is absolutely suiting for Goo
fans or Sonic Youth fans in general. You get a good amount of stuff for your money, and a lot of it is fantastic, especially the 8-track album version and a few incredible b-sides, but as necessary there are less great songs on Goo
, songs that can end up wasting your time. It’s evident that Sonic Youth continued in the tradition of half-brained, numbing and simplistic guitar rock with either shrieking or just plain awful singing. But still, among these faults, surfaces a double CD package that is a good purchase for Sonic Youth fans, but probably not the best place to start if you’re new to the band. Purchase the actual album first, then take it from there if necessary.