It’s Tuesday and that means it’s HRH‘s swimming lessons day. Of course, that also means “Hills” for me. Yay. Note the sarcasm. So while she’s paddling away I’m getting my “tough” on for 4 repeats up and down Welland Vale Rd.. And since it promises to be a difficult slog this evening, rain and everything, I’ve queued up a specific monumental Desert Island album from my youth, the amazing ‘Goo‘ album by Sonic Youth.
You really can’t do this album justice in just one blog post, it’s that bloody poignant. Not just for me but the music industry as a whole. I think it’s safe to say that the business of music changed significantly after the released of ‘Goo‘ in 1990.
For my part, I was 18 years old and still in high school and just beginning to get a sense of music beyond what I heard being played by Casey Kasem over the radio. One of my friends at the time was named Jeff and, well, Jeff was a bit odd. The “artsy fartsy” type if you will. He had a penchant for weird drawings and making mixed tapes, of which, nearly every one had at least one track from this particular album and I was all like “Hmm, what in the sweet hell is this?”
It was different than anything I had heard before and, really, when the popular radio songs at the time included ‘Hold On‘ by Wilson Phillips, ‘Step by Step‘ by New Kids on the Block and ‘Poison‘ by Bel Biv Devoe, this was absolutely revolutionary; complete light years away from the rest of the pop pablum being paddled at the time. How could I not be intrigued?
Business-wise, The album was Sonic Youth’s debut release on a major record label, after the band signed to Geffen Records following the release of ‘Daydream Nation’ (1988). The crys of “Sell out!” were widespread, yet it still achieved commercial/marketing success, peaking at #96 on the Billboard 200, while still managing to maintain their artistic integrity; something that was not then believed to be possible. This then also paved the way for future indie bands to do the same like, say, a little known band at the time known as Nirvana. It was possible to work with a major record label and still be cool. Huh.
The record is nevertheless a defiant call to arms against mainstream musical values; the Geffen logo adorning the disc is a moot point – ‘Goo‘ is, if anything, a portrait of Sonic Youth at their most self-indulgently noisy and contentious, covering topics ranging from Karen Carpenter (‘Tunic‘) to UFOs (‘Disappearer‘) to dating Jesus’ mom (‘Mary-Christ‘). Even Public Enemy’s Chuck D joins the fracas on the single ‘Kool Thing‘, which was more than enough inspiration to keep me pushing and powering up my 1st hill repeat despite the heavy feeling in my legs my that point. The other 3 repeats fell on the rocking ‘Mote‘ and – which came to bit of a shock to me, ‘My Friend Goo‘ – which Jeff has a particular gleeful fondness for back in the day. I did not share his enthusiasm for this song back then but it sure as shit helped me up that 4th and last hill repeat. In fact, I’d go so far to say that it was pretty fucking awesome. I guess that’s what age and fresh ear will do for you. Another awesome and often under-appreciated track is the album closer ‘Titanium Expose‘ which was featured in the cult classic film ‘Pump Up the Volume‘ with then heartthrob Christian Slater – not that I ever paid attention to such things. In hindsight, it might have been a tad bit aggressive as a warm down by that point but, hey, I’m not complaining.
All in all, it was a hard-fought victory in less than ideal conditions tonight (8.25k in total) and definitely deserving of a well-earned pork chop dinner when I get home.
Successes: 3rd over all Strava effort on the ‘Welland Vale Rd. Heartbreaker’ segment (1:11).