Sonic Youth Get "Dirty" Again

Two-CD reissue digs up rare and unreleased recordings

A deluxe two-CD reissue of Sonic Youth's 1992 recording, Dirty, will be released on March 4th. The album will include eleven previously unreleased rehearsals and demos as well as a handful of b-sides. New liner notes, obligatory in the reissue realm, will also be a part of the package, including essays by Sonic Youth guitarists Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo, and a piece by journalist Byron Coley.

"There's lots of sort of weird stuff that we had on eight track tape, like demo things, working out songs," Moore told Rolling Stone earlier this year. "And there's a couple of pieces that never came to fruition during the songwriting of that record that we discovered that we thought were kind of interesting. We weren't too interested in putting live stuff on there, though there is live material out there. But it would take forever to go through it and search for the good stuff."

Among the additional material is "Stalker" (previously available only on the double-vinyl version of the album), and rehearsal recordings of "Little Jammy Thing," "Stalker," and two songs, "Youth Against Facism," and "Wish Fulfillment," that ended up on Dirty in different formats. Eight of the rehearsal songs have never been released: "Barracuda," "Dreamfinger," "New White Cross," "Guido," "Moonface," "Poet in the Pit," "Theoretical Chaos" and "Lite Damage." B-sides include "Genetic," "Hendrix Necro," "The Destroyed Room," "Is It My Body," "Personality Crisis," "The End of the End of the Ugly" and "Tamra."

Dirty marked a new phase for the band. After releasing their first six albums independently, Sonic Youth signed with Geffen and issued Goo in 1990. In the two years that followed, the group played a role in getting Nirvana signed to the label, and Dirty reflects some residual synergy from a joint tour between the two bands. Sonic Youth enlisted producer Butch Vig (who produced Nirvana's Nevermind) to record the album, which featured a (relatively) more mainstream sound for the experimental rock ensemble.

"I do enjoy [digging through old recordings] in a way, but at the same time I find it exasperating because we had to listen to all these things and make choices and there's so much to listen to," Moore said. "And I don't really like to listen to my stuff. When we make a new record, every once in awhile before it's out, I like putting it on, just to sort of marvel at it. But after the years go by, I don't really pull out any of our records and listen to them. There were moments on Dirty that I could hardly even remember where we were at that the point. It was ten years ago."

Sonic Youth will have to dig deeper than ten years for the next two reissues. Universal, which is reissuing Dirty, also has plans to re-release Goo and what is widely considered the band's masterpiece, 1988's Daydream Nation, both with a bonus CD of rare and unreleased extras. A release date has not yet been set for either reissue.

In the meantime, the band continues to plug its 2002 release, Murray Street. A five-date tour of Japan is next, starting with a two-night stand at Tokyo's Akasaka Blitz on February 17th and 18th.

Dirty track listing:

Swimsuit Issue
Theresa's Sound-World
Drunken Butterfly
Wish Fulfillment
Sugar Kane
Orange Rolls, Angel's Spit
Youth Against Facism
Nic Fit
On the Strip
Chapel Hill
Crème Brulee

Bonus material:

Is It My Body
Personality Crisis
The End of the End of the Ugly
Little Jammy Thing
Lite Damage
New White Kross
Poet in the Pit
Theoretical Chaos
Youth Against Fascism
Wish Fulfillment