Sonic Youth - Smart Bar -Chicago 1985
When you've been going as long as Sonic Youth have its inevitable you're going to have one hell of a back catalogue of standout performances and recordings. Late last year Sonic Youth began to release some of these shows as a series of original recordings from live shows starting with the 1985 show at the Smart Bar venue in Chicago.
Listening to this release really did take me back to a time before digital recording. The rawness of the cassette, the slight distortions, and the way it struggles with lots of gain and pitch only adds to this album. It was recorded during the tour promoting the Bad Moon Rising EP and features many of those tracks as well as some from the then future release EVOL. It also features the extremely rare song Kat N' Hat that has never before featured on a release and was only played in the summer of 1985.
Sonic Youth are a band with legendary status for a reason. The energy at their live shows is a key reason to why they have such a huge following, but on album and EP releases a lot of that raw energy is lost in the recording studio. This live album gives people a chance to relive those one time experiences and remember where it all started. Smart Bar is without question an album which when turned up load can transport you back 27 years to standing right in the front row.
Normally for live show recordings I would recommend that if it's your first time listening to a band try their greatest hits first, but there are exceptions to the rule and this is one of them. Smart Bar is as solid a Sonic Youth release as your going to get and it captures all aspects of why they're great; musical talent, stage presence and pure energy that absorbs into you and gets you hooked. My stand out tracks are Expressway to Yr Skull and Secret Girl.