Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Oliver: Sonic Youth - Pipeline/Kill Time; Lucky Sperms - Walking the Cow (8 December 1991)

A double burst of Sonic Youth related selections.  One coming from the group themselves, the other from a one off side project with Mike Watt from fiREHOSE.
Peel in the early 90s may have claimed not to be one for nostalgia, but he'd evidently had his memory tickled of Sonic Youth's 1987 album, Sister, around this time as tracks from it got played on both his shows that weekend.  Pipeline/Kill Time is, as its title suggests, a song of two halves, starting out with an urgent attack as Lee Ranaldo tries to set up a meeting with someone who he has a "pipeline straight to the heart" of.  There's an unmistakably druggy edge to the lyrics with talk of passivity, not worrying that "I'm not moving, doesn't mean I don't care" and the speedy freakiness of the guitar and drum patterns.  Things get a good deal more macabre as the Kill Time section is heralded by the clanging guitar note, like the body's own cloister bell, reflecting dark substances entering the bloodstream.  The trip itself is represented by prolonged feedback, so much of it that Peel was moved at the end to remark, simply, "Wierdos".  For all that, it's the compelling nature of the opening half, which does such a good job of laying the ground work for the more challenging second half that sees it included.  And I like the radio static finish at the end. Edit - having listened to the song again, the
day after posting this, the drug analogy might be too obvious.  Some of the lyrics point towards a mutual suicide pact. The mentions of glass wrapped round a chain and the feelings of guilt and futility in the spoken word section.  All before concluding with that superambiguous whispered "Shoot. Kill. Time".

Peel encouraged the Sonic Youth completists to get down to finding the 7" EP, The Man which saw Sonic Youth team up with Mike Watt to cover the evergreen Daniel Johnston standard.  They give Johnston's typically bucolic take on his schizophrenia/bipolar disorder a really appealing country feel
featuring an ostrich necked bassline that moos like Johnston's metaphorical cow.  It astonished me
just how many artists have covered this song: TV on the Radio, Eddie Vedder, A Camp (Cardigans singer, Nina Persson's side project) and fiREHOSE themselves.  It shouldn't work, and that applies to most of Johnston's music, but it does. One of the few given the label who is truly a savant first and an idiot, second.

Johnston's hopefully going to feature a lot on this blog, not least in more of the December 1991 posts.

Videos courtesy of Kibalcic23 (Sonic Youth), lujmroku (Lucky Sperms) and Christine Colaianni (Johnston).

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