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Smart Bar - Chicago 1985 (Live)

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iTunes Review

Recorded to a four-track cassette in August 1985 at Chicago's Smart Bar, this live album captures Sonic Youth on the cusp of its transformation into one of alternative music's most heralded groups. A large portion of Sonic Youth's then-recent album Bad Moon Rising is featured, along with early renditions of future EVOL tracks "Secret Girl" and "Expressway to Yr Skull" (listed as "Madonna, Sean, and Me" on EVOL), shedding light on where Sonic Youth was headed. "Kat 'n' Hat" is a rare performance of a tune that never made it to a proper album, while "Ghost Bitch," "I'm Insane," and "Brave Men Run (In My Family)" marinate in the thick syrup of discordant, feedback-drenched guitar work. "I Love Her All the Time," in particular, benefits from the improvised live setting. The gig is one of the first to feature new drummer Steve Shelley, and his technique comes in handy on the early tunes "The Burning Spear" and "Brother James." 

Customer Reviews

Come On!

It's Sonic Youth. Need I say more.

New to sonic youth

I'm fairly new to this band, this was my first album from the band on LP too. I can dig it but it's pretty out there. Give it a shot. Since l listened I've been able to get into more of their discography

A great live SY gem from the 80's

I've actually had this bootlegged for years but it's nice to see it available to buy. I perosnally have listened to this album and for years and its one of my fav's when it comes to this band. If you're into SY and you love their early work and want to hear how they would have sounded live in the 80's this is the perfect album. But if you're new to SY and your not sure where to start to get into SY you might want to skip this album and do some research.


Formed: 1981 in New York, NY

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Sonic Youth were one of the most unlikely success stories of underground American rock in the '80s. Where contemporaries R.E.M. and Hüsker Dü were fairly conventional in terms of song structure and melody, Sonic Youth began their career by abandoning any pretense of traditional rock & roll conventions. Borrowing heavily from the free-form noise experimentalism of the Velvet Underground and the Stooges, and melding it with a performance art aesthetic borrowed from the New York post-punk avant-garde,...
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