Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Two (musical) notes

1. I'm embarrassed to admit that I missed most of the developments in modern rock from roughly mid-1994 until about late 1998, for reasons which will shortly become apparent. I'm currently in the process of trying to catch up on that period, which is also coinciding with my re-discovery of Sonic Youth. I had followed the band avidly through high school and up through Dirty, but after that I kind of lost track until Lips dropped their very good Rather Ripped on me a couple years back.

At any rate, I recently bought another copy of Daydream Nation to replace the cassette that had long since disappeared into the ether, and that has set me off on a mini-SY binge that has ultimately led me to 1995's Washing Machine. My question to you (or at least those of you who are Sonic Youth aficionados) is why the fuck haven't you repeatedly been telling me that this is a must-own album? The dissonant experimentalism crossed with a songcraft and, well, warmth has made it damn near impossible for me not to dial it up daily. I'll put it this way - Washing Machine just replaced Daydream Nation in the CD changer. And you know that says something.



2. The reason I missed out on the mid-90s musically was due to my obsession with Phish and Phish-related music. In retrospect, it's not something with which I'm particularly proud. These days, it's hard for me to get excited about them. Their studio albums are famously blasé, and even the copious live recordings I've managed to acquire over the years have lost their ability to convey the "you had to have been there" vibe of a Phish show.

The one exception to that has been my meh audience recording of the December 30, 1997 show at Madison Square Garden which I've thrown on from time to time. From beginning to end, the show crackles with the quintessential energy that propelled the best shows the band performed. From the surprise opener of Robert Palmer's "Sneakin' Sally thru the Alley" to an epically funky "AC/DC Bag" kicking off the second set to the scorching half-hour encore, the show is a gem. These days, I don't typically recommend any Phish recordings to anyone unless they ask. But now that they've released a dank soundboard/audience matrix of this show in their Live Phish series, I'm saying that if there's one piece of Phish to own, this is the one.

15 comments:

dr said...

I went to the SXSW record release show for Washing Maching.

I was in the second-class, you didn't buy a wrist band line. SY came out, looked at the lines, and declared that the non-wristband line could go first (this never happens) and didn't have to pay (this never ever happens). Pretty sweet.

dr said...

(take that in the spirit of, 'I need a miracle')

lex dexter said...

sorry Wobs.
yeah, Washing Machine is very much a return-to-form, not that SY have any bad records per se. It's the first major alb, says me, since DayDream Nation, and at the time was a key signal to those of us who worried the Geffen Records thing was making them alternately too concessionary or too reactionary.

also, whether or not it was explicitly written in light of J. Garcia's death, "the Diamond Sea" is most certainly the Dead-y-est SY song ever.

and "skip tracer," jesus. wow, i got a pull out my deeply-loved 2xLp apparently.

lex dexter said...

oh and Wobs, i'll see you in Hampton for the Phish reunion, right?

lex dexter said...

feel free to skip ahead to Murray St. and/or Nurse. those are the next "major" SY albs, both featuring the inimicable Jim O'Rourke.

Car Carpet said...

Sister & EVOL, too! for walking around!

wobblie said...

No Hampton for me - I'll be working in Miami at the Higher Ed conference. Although honestly, I wasn't too terribly impressed with "post-hiatus" Phish - the Hampton show already seems a little too "wallowing in nostalgia"-ish for me, although it would provide an opportunity to score some good weed.

wobblie said...

Sister and EVOL are classics, but I caught them in my "first phase" of SY fandom before tuning out. My first cassette copy of Sister actually got loved to death.

evil r + b guy said...

I always thought the Story of the Ghost was a pretty good record in and of itself.

wobblie said...

I still have Ghost on my iPod - it's definitely the most cohesive and musically interesting of their studio work. I even like the Siket Disc of more experimental recordings taken from those same studio sessions.

lex dexter said...

to bring things full circle, didn't Siket work with Sonic Youth around the Washing Machine era?

why yes he did!

http://www.recordproduction.com/real_producers_john_siket.htm

(everything from Blonde Redhead to Cell to Moe. who is this guy?)

wobblie said...

No that's freaky!

robes said...

lex just told me about this thread as i was waking up. clearly i have too much to say about this. i have a parallel ensemble of feelings to you wobs. we maybe crossed many paths without knowing, and so its better to air things out here, where no one can see our faces! i went to phish shows starting in june of 1994 through to basically a show or two in 2001, about 35 total? i can't fucking stand those guys now, although i must say, trey is the real problem. and that i am too arty and serious now to get close. although they did just release that atlanta roxy run from 1993, replete with the secret language jams, and lots of proggy silliness... you can't get some stains out, no matter what.

OK: clincher move...
there was a rumour for a while (mid- to late-90's) verified by sources on both sides, that a joint tour was in the works for phish AND sonic youth. obviously this never transpired, but good god: can you imagine who might be president now, had that garish butterfly flapped its wings?

MarkDilley said...

Thanks! I must get Washing Machine - I didn't know either! Nice find this Saturday late morning.

wobblie said...

Glad we could help, Dilley!