Sonic Youth – Smart Bar Chicago 1985 (SYR – 2012)

An excerpt from the LP’s liner notes:

“Having now listened to this tape maybe 100 times, I can say this: it’s a killer show. The material was mostly released on the studio album Bad Moon Rising. The album is brilliant, but the material is also so visceral and improvisatory that it greatly benefits from the additional perspective offered by a live recording. Kim’s vocals, more detached on the album, are fierce here. Sheets of feedback insanity on the album which I always assumed to be lucky studio accidents turn out to be actual parts that Lee and Thurston can re-create at will. The album was recorded with Bob Bert on drums, but this show was one of the first after Bob left and Steve took over. Bob’s primal stomps doubtlessly propel the studio versions, but hearing these parts as interpreted by Steve’s systematic pummeling, illuminates the crucial transition to the Evol and Sister albums and beyond. We do get a taste of Evol too, with an early performance of ‘Expressway To Yr Skull’ and the first known live performance of ‘Secret Girl,’ plus an instrumental version of the rarely performed, and never released, ‘Kat ’n’ Hat.’”

Aaron Mullan, Feb. 2012

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