Sister (Sonic Youth album)
|Studio album by Sonic Youth|
(see release history)
|Recorded||1987 at Sear Sound, New York, United States|
|Genre||Alternative rock, noise rock|
|Sonic Youth chronology|
|Singles from Sister|
Sister is the fourth studio album by American alternative rock band Sonic Youth. It was released in June 1987, through record label SST. The album furthers the band's move away from no wave towards more traditional song structures, while maintaining an aggressively experimental approach. The album was re-issued in 2011 on 180gram purple-marble vinyl.
Like their previous records, Sister wasn't very successful at the time but later on in their career it has been heavily praised by critics, Slant Magazine called it "the last great punk album of the Reagan era, and the first great pop album to emerge from the American underground" listing the album at number seventy-two in its list of the best albums of the 1980s. and Pitchfork Media listed Sister as the fourteenth best album of the 1980s.
Background and recording
Sonic Youth released their third album EVOL in 1986, in October/November during the tour of the album the band began writing material for a new album, except from "White Kross" which was written by at least May 1986 although might have been written earlier. The album was recorded to 16-track in March and April, 1987, at Sear Sound with Walter Sear entirely on analog tube equipment, giving it its characteristic "warm", vintage feel.
Sister is a loose concept album (like its follow-up Daydream Nation), Sister was in part inspired by the life and works of science fiction writer Philip K. Dick. The original titles for the album were Kitty Magic, Humpy Pumpy, and Sol-Fuc but it was named "sister" as a reference to Dick's fraternal twin, who died shortly after her birth, and whose memory haunted Dick his entire life. "Sister" was also the original title for "Schizophrenia", and Moore often introduced it as "Sister".
Musical structure and lyrics
The album features aggressive noise songs such as "White Kross" and "Catholic Block", as well as a menacing noir ode, "Pacific Coast Highway" although moves towards more traditional song structures. Some of the lyrics on "Schizophrenia" were originally written for early song "Come Around" (Your future is static, It's already had it/But I got a hunch, it's coming back to me). "Sister" was the original title for "Schizophrenia", a live recording of the song from 4 June, 1987 at Town & Country in London was released on the B-side of a bootleg 7" single under the title "Sister", the A-side featured their cover of "I Wanna Be Your Dog" with Iggy Pop.
The band used acoustic guitars on some songs on the album for "melodic" purposes, one of the first being "(I Got a) Catholic Block", another was "Beauty Lies in the Eye" which used three or four guitars. "Pipeline/Kill Time", sang by Ranaldo, was written on 5 April 1987, although several lyrics were not included in the final song. Sixth song "Tuff Gnarl"'s working titles were "Sea-Sik" and "Smart and Fast" but the band settled on "Tuff Gnarl" coming from the line "He's running on a tuff gnarl in his head". The song was covered by Mike Watt on his album Ball-Hog or Tugboat? with Moore, Ranaldo and Shelley performing it with him. The band covered Crime's song "Hotwire My Heart" and was put as the eighth song on the album. "Kotton Krown" (or "Cotton Crown") is the first Gordon and Moore duet, although Moore sings it live usually. Last song "White Kross" was the oldest song off the album and was featured on an NME 7", although it may be older. On the European tour in 1987, the band extended the song with five or six minutes of white noise at the end of it, this outro was later named "Broken Eye".
The artwork of the original front cover contained a photograph of twelve year old Sandra Bennett August 23, 1980, taken by Richard Avedon on August 23, 1980, but it was censored for later releases after a threat of a lawsuit. At first the picture was merely covered up with a black sticker, but on later pressings it was removed, only showing a black area. Similarly, a photo of Disney's Magic Kingdom on the back cover was later obscured by a UPC code. Very early promotional posters and pressings of the album do feature these photos, but later ones do not.
Sister was released in June 1987 through SST Records (US) and Blast First (UK) on vinyl, CD and Cassette. After the release of the album the band began their European tour. On this tour, a part of the Master=Dik EP was recorded at a radio session in Geneva. The band toured the US in September and October, they replaced their usual encores of "Hotwire My Heart" and "I Wanna Be Your Dog" with four Ramones covers. The October 14th Chicago, IL show they played on this tour was officially released as Hold That Tiger.
Videos were shot for "Beauty Lies in the Eye" and "Stereo Sanctity". The black-and-white "Stereo Sanctity" video, featuring clips of whirring factory machinery and brief live shots of the band, can only be seen on a rare 1980s SST video compilation entitled Over 35 Videos Never Before Released. Despite not having a real single released from the album a bootleg single of "Cotton Crown" was released in 1993.
In its retrospective review, AllMusic called the album "a masterpiece". Slant Magazine called it "the last great punk album of the Reagan era, and the first great pop album to emerge from the American underground."
Pitchfork Media listed Sister as the fourteenth best album of the 1980s. NME rated it number eighty in their list of the greatest albums ever, and number thirty-seven in their list of the fifty greatest albums of the 1980s. In July 1995, Alternative Press magazine voted Sister the third best album of the decade spanning 1985–1995. Slant Magazine listed the album at number seventy-two in its list of the best albums of the 1980s.
|2.||"(I Got A) Catholic Block"||Moore||3:26|
|3.||"Beauty Lies in the Eye"||Gordon||2:20|
|7.||"Pacific Coast Highway"||Gordon||4:18|
|8.||"Hot Wire My Heart" (Crime cover)||Johnny Strike||Moore, Gordon, Ranaldo||3:23|
|9.||"Kotton Krown[a]"||Gordon, Moore||5:08|
|CD bonus track|
- Sonic Youth
- Thurston Moore – guitar (tracks 1, 2 and 4–10), vocals, Moog synthesizer ("Pipeline/Kill Time"), bass guitar ("Beauty Lies in the Eye"), production
- Kim Gordon – bass guitar (tracks 1, 2 and 4–10), vocals, production
- Lee Ranaldo – guitar, vocals, production
- Steve Shelley – drums, production
- Bill Titus – engineering
- Howie Weinberg – mastering
- Walter Sear – Moog programming
- Lucius Shepard – sleeve illustration
|US, UK||June, 1987||SST Records, Blast First||Vinyl, CD, Cassette|
|US, Europe||1994||DGC, Geffen||CD, Cassette|
|US||2011||ORG Music||Purple marble vinyl|
- This track was named "Kotton Krown" on the original SST/Blast First release, but was renamed "Cotton Crown" on the DGC reissue and subsequent Blast First releases.
- This track was named "White Kross" on the original SST/Blast First release, but was renamed "White Cross" on the DGC reissue and subsequent Blast First releases.
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- "Sonic Youth Catholic Block". sonicyouth.com. Retrieved 11 May 2013.
- "Sonic Youth Beauty Lies in the Eye". sonicyouth.com. Retrieved 11 May 2013.
- "Sonic Youth Pipeline/Kill Time". sonicyouth.com. Retrieved 11 May 2013.
- "Sonic Youth Tuff Gnarl". sonicyouth.com. Retrieved 11 May 2013.
- "Sonic Youth Kotton Krown". sonicyouth.com. Retrieved 11 May 2013.
- "Sonic Youth White Kross". sonicyouth.com. Retrieved 11 May 2013.
- "SISTER". SONICYOUTH.COM. Retrieved 23 April 2013.
- "Sonic Youth Sister". sonicyouth.com. Retrieved 12 May 2013.
- "Sonic Youth Cotton Crown". sonicyouth.com. Retrieved 12 May 2013.
- Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Sister – Sonic Youth : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards : AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved October 15, 2012.
- Christgau, Robert. "Robert Christgau: CG: Sonic Youth". robertchristgau.com. Retrieved October 15, 2012.
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- "Rocklist.net....NME Greates Albums of 60's 70's & 80's". rocklistmusic.co.uk. Retrieved October 15, 2012.
- "Rocklist.net..Alternative Press..". rocklistmusic.co.uk. Retrieved October 15, 2012.
- Sister at Discogs (list of releases)
- Sister (Adobe Flash) at Radio3Net (streamed copy where licensed)