Smart Bar – Chicago 1985

These days, any sign of life from Sonic Youth is welcome news  – even this self-released live album from the summer of 1985. It documents one of the first shows the Youth did with Steve Shelley on drums. You can hear them gear up for a major lurch into greatness, midway between the feedback scum rock of their early days and the creative breakthrough of Evol, Sister and Daydream Nation. They give a taste of glories to come with primitive versions of "Expressway to Yr Skull" and "Secret Girl." But the peak is the early ballad "I Love Her All the Time" – noisy, emotionally alive, jittery with excitement for the future. It's a map to the territory Sonic Youth were just starting to explore.

From The Archives Issue 1170: November 22, 2012