Thursday, July 21, 2022

Happy 30th Anniversary to Sonic Youth's Dirty

One of RtBE's favorite albums of all time turns 30 today as Sonic Youth's Dirty was released on July 21st, 1992. 

Back in the days of cassettes, this one stayed in my Walkman for a large chunk of fall 1992 and beyond. I can still vividly remember sitting in my high school library, study hall and home room blasting this loud in those puffy headphones. Sonic Youth and Dirty particularly influenced everything from my love of loud noisy guitars to fashion sense to desire to see other bands like SY (Dinosaur Jr. etc). While other albums were bigger in the grunge era, this one spoke to my young ears and mind the most. 

Everyone has their own favorite SY album, but when asked recently about my personal favorite, Dirty topped the list easily. We will probably set aside a post to go over our list of favorites from the New York noise rock legends at some point in the future, but from the exhilaratingly powerful, bordering on beautiful rock ("Sugar Kane", "Wish Fulfillment", "Chapel Hill", "Purr") to the avantgarde ("Creme Brulee") to the punk rage ("Nic Fit", "Youth Against Fascism") to just flat our dirty as titled rumbling bass line and riffs ("100%") everything just connected on this release.

A major part of the appeal was Kim Gordon's feminist based, confusion-as-sex-as-violence designed lyrics under guttural and breathy vocals ("Drunken Butterfly", "Shoot", "Orange Rolls, Angel's Spit", "Swimsuit Issue", "JC"). She was (and remains) both alluring and scary, capturing the immediate (and sadly future) cultural sexual zeitgeist in a profound way. Thurston had his chugging/slicing riffs combining with Lee's spacey wandering tone, both zig zag up and down fret boards, all the while supported by Steve's strong, but never intrusive drumming that kept everything together.

Years later when I checked out the special edition release and found out "Genetic" was left off this album, I sided with Ranaldo who almost quit the band because of this decision. I am not sure what the band was thinking then, but to be fair the other outtakes of "Stalker", "Hendrix Necro" and "The Destroyed Room" are all top notch, the band was clearly in the groove recording with Butch Vig. We will never know why they left certain songs off or why they didn't release "Sugar Kane" as the lead single, but it all works out eventually (even the dissolution of this great band) and now this gem of a noise rock release turns thirty.  

RtBE are committed fans of SY, reviewing their albums, loving them live over the years and reported on their subsequent individual releases as there have been a lot of them

The first bass line I learned was the Ramones...then Sonic Youth's "100%". When my first band played our first show "100%" made the cut, The Ramones didn't, and this was about 15 years after this album came out. While I was slow to get onstage to play music, the influence of this album still loomed large when I began my live music adventure.  It still looms large today.  

Celebrate the best way possible, buy the album and play it loud. 


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