Goo (album)

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Sonic Youth Goo.jpg
Studio album by Sonic Youth
Released June 26, 1990
Recorded March–April 1990
Studio Sorcerer Sound Recording Studios and Greene St. Recording, New York City, New York, United States
Length 49:23
Label DGC
Sonic Youth chronology
Daydream Nation
Singles from Goo
  1. "Kool Thing"
    Released: June 1990
  2. "Disappearer"
    Released: 1990
  3. "Dirty Boots"
    Released: April 1991

Goo is the sixth studio album by American alternative rock band Sonic Youth. It was released on June 26, 1990 by record label DGC. The album was Sonic Youth's debut release on a major record label, after the band signed to Geffen Records following the release of Daydream Nation (1988).

Goo was recorded over a short period in early 1990 at Sorcerer Sound Recording Studios and Greene St. Recording with Daydream Nation producer Nick Sansano and additional producer Ron Saint Germain. The album's sound diverged considerably from their earlier material and is often considered "their most accessible album",[1] with elements of experimental rock,[2] garage punk,[3] alternative rock[4] and hard rock.[5]

Lead single "Kool Thing" charted in the United States, United Kingdom and Ireland. Two other singles—"Disappearer" and "Dirty Boots"—were also released from the album, although neither were as successful as "Kool Thing".

Upon its release, Goo was a moderate commercial/marketing success, peaking at No. 96 on the Billboard 200 in the United States and charting in the Netherlands, New Zealand and the UK. Critical reception to the album was positive. To support its release, Sonic Youth toured Europe and North America twice in 1990.[6] Following the mainstream breakthrough of alternative rock and grunge, the band toured Europe again in fall 1991 with Nirvana, Dinosaur Jr., Babes in Toyland and Gumball.[7] The latter tour was chronicled on the documentary 1991: The Year Punk Broke, directed by Dave Markey.


Following the release of Daydream Nation in 1988, Sonic Youth were interested in signing with a new record label. By the middle of 1989, the top contenders for the band's new label were A&M Records, Atlantic Records and Mute Records.[8] Between late 1989 and early 1990, Geffen Records announced its interest in signing the band.[9] Sonic Youth eventually signed a five-album deal with Geffen for an estimated $300,000.[10] However, the band was disappointed when they discovered that the albums would be released on the newly created Geffen sub-label, DGC.[11]

Although Sonic Youth's contract had no routine industry stipulation to recording demos for its albums, the band recorded a series of demos in November 1989 to give DGC an idea of what material they were producing, as well as to form a basis for the album.[12] The demos were recorded at Waterworks Recording with Jim Waters as an engineer, and Don Fleming and Dinosaur Jr. frontman J Mascis assisting production. During these sessions, Goo was known under the working title Blowjob?, a name based on Raymond Pettibon's artwork and the band's desire to test Geffen's sense of humor.[13] All songs that would later appear on Goo were recorded except for "Scooter & Jinx". Several songs written by guitarist Lee Ranaldo were recorded in their embryonic forms, including "Mote" (originally titled "Bookstore") and the instrumental "Lee #2".


Although Geffen initially suggested that the band work with producer Daniel Lanois on the record, the band chose to produce Goo by itself with Sansano (who produced Daydream Nation) as an engineer. At Sansano's recommendation, the band chose to record at New York's Sorcerer Sound Recording Studio. Meanwhile, Mascis convinced Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley to buy a larger drumkit.[14] While the new songs were already arranged, the band and Sansano incorporated new recording techniques whenever they could, such as hanging microphones from the studio's catwalk and isolating Shelley in a drum booth. Sonic Youth considered hiring David Markey to film a documentary of the album's production, but due to recurring problems during recording ("It took us forever to get final takes", Ranaldo recalled), the band abandoned the idea. Once basic tracks were completed, the sessions moved to Green Street studio in order to finish the song and perform album mixing.[15] By the time the album was completed, its cost came out to $150,000.[16]


The album's lead track, "Dirty Boots", evokes old blues slang in its declaration that "It's time to rock the road/And tell the story of the jelly rollin'/Dirty boots are on/Hi de ho".

The second track, "Tunic (Song for Karen)", is about Karen Carpenter, a pop drummer and singer who died from anorexia nervosa. It imagines her in heaven, happy, playing the drums again and meeting new friends Dennis Wilson, Elvis Presley and Janis Joplin.[17]

The album featured the single "Kool Thing", on which Chuck D from the rap group Public Enemy guested.[18] The song is purported to be about the disillusionment that bass player Kim Gordon experienced after interviewing LL Cool J for Spin the previous year. "Are you going to liberate us girls from male, white, corporate oppression?" Gordon asks in the song. The album version of "Mary-Christ" fades out with a portion of the intro to "Kool Thing". This is because in the recording session for "Mary-Christ", the band went right into "Kool Thing", but this take of "Kool Thing" was not chosen for the album. "Kool Thing" was featured prominently in Hal Hartley's independent film Simple Men.

"Mildred Pierce" is one of the first Sonic Youth songs ever written. It is also one of the few to use standard guitar tuning.[19] The title came from the Joan Crawford film of the same name, based on the novel by James M. Cain.

The album's title derived from the song "My Friend Goo", a portrait of a friend who "sticks just like glue". According to the Sonic Youth website, a considered title was "Blow Job?" for a while.[20] This was also the working title for "Mildred Pierce".


The cover is a Raymond Pettibon illustration based on a paparazzi photo of Maureen Hindley and her first husband, David Smith, who were witnesses in the case of the Moors murderers Ian Brady and Myra Hindley, driving to the trial in 1966.

In 2008, Scottish band The Twilight Sad released a rarities compilation titled Killed My Parents and Hit the Road. The name and album artwork, which featured a reworking of the Goo cover in the style of previous Twilight Sad artwork, were homages to Goo. According to vocalist James Graham, the Goo pastiche was the idea of guitarist Andy MacFarlane. Graham commented, "[The Twilight Sad] were playing in America with Mogwai [...] and Thurston Moore [came] to the gig. So we were thinking 'fuck' and hoping he didn't see the merchandise table. They haven't sued us though. Yet."[21]


Goo was released on June 26, 1990 by record label DGC.

A two-disc/four-LP deluxe edition of the album was released in 2005 with outtakes, demos and live tracks.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4/5 stars[22]
Blender 5/5 stars[23]
Chicago Tribune 2.5/4 stars[24]
Christgau's Consumer Guide A−[25]
Entertainment Weekly B[26]
Los Angeles Times 4/5 stars[27]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[3]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 3/5 stars[28]
Select 4/5[29]
Uncut 4/5 stars[30]

Goo was generally well received by critics. Rolling Stone's review was very favorable, calling the album "a brilliant, extended essay in refined primitivism that deftly reconciles rock's structural conventions with the band's twin passions for violent tonal elasticity and garage-punk holocaust", finishing the review with "Rock & roll, or what's left of it, may never be the same".[3]

Other reviewers were less favorable. AllMusic called the album "a defiant call to arms against mainstream musical values" that "nevertheless lacks the coherence and force of the group's finest work".[22] Trouser Press panned the album, writing, "Goo repeatedly strains to be the coolest shit and fails miserably".[31]

Pitchfork listed Goo as the 82nd best album of the 1990s.[32]


In 1991, a long-form music video version of Goo was released on VHS and LaserDisc. A music video for each song from the album was included; the track listing was identical to that of the original album. In 2004, nearly the entire contents of the Goo video were included on the DVD compilation Corporate Ghost: The Videos: 1990–2002; only a short fragment that appeared after the conclusion of "Titanium Exposé" on the 1991 video was missing.

Track listing[edit]

All music composed by Sonic Youth (Thurston Moore, Kim Gordon, Lee Ranaldo, Steve Shelley).

No. Title Lyrics Vocalist Length
1. "Dirty Boots" Moore Moore 5:28
2. "Tunic (Song for Karen)" Gordon Gordon 6:22
3. "Mary-Christ" Moore Moore, Gordon 3:11
4. "Kool Thing" Gordon Gordon, Chuck D 4:06
5. "Mote" Ranaldo Ranaldo 7:37
6. "My Friend Goo" Gordon Gordon, Moore 2:19
7. "Disappearer" Moore Moore 5:08
8. "Mildred Pierce" Moore Moore 2:13
9. "Cinderella's Big Score" Gordon Gordon 5:54
10. "Scooter + Jinx" 1:06
11. "Titanium Exposé" Moore, Gordon Moore, Gordon 6:27


Chart positions[edit]

Chart (1990) Peak
Dutch Top 100 71[33]
New Zealand RIANZ Albums Chart 22[34]
UK Albums Chart 32[35]
US Billboard 200 96[36]


Year Single Peak positions
1990 "Kool Thing" 7 81 24


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  2. ^ Jackson, Josh (February 24, 2012). "The 90 Best Albums of the 1990s". Paste. Retrieved June 24, 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c Fricke, David (August 9, 1990). "Goo". Rolling Stone. Retrieved April 17, 2013. 
  4. ^ Gu, Marshall (October 21, 2014). "Thurston Moore: The Best Day". PopMatters. Retrieved June 24, 2015. 
  5. ^ Deming, Mark. "Dirty – Sonic Youth: Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards: AllMusic". AllMusic. AllRovi. Retrieved April 17, 2013. 
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  7. ^ "Sonic Youth Concert Chronology – 1991". Retrieved April 18, 2013. 
  8. ^ Browne 2008, p. 194.
  9. ^ Browne 2008, p. 195.
  10. ^ Browne 2008, p. 197.
  11. ^ Browne 2008, p. 202.
  12. ^ Browne 2008, p. 204.
  13. ^ " Discography – Album: Goo". Retrieved April 18, 2013. 
  14. ^ Browne 2008, p. 206.
  15. ^ Browne 2008, p. 207.
  16. ^ Browne 2008, p. 210.
  17. ^ Hirshey, Gerri (2001). We Gotta Get Out of This Place. ISBN 0-87113-788-7. 
  18. ^ Browne 2008.
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  20. ^ "Sonic Youth Site Menu". Retrieved April 18, 2013. 
  21. ^ "Words with The Twilight Sad | Muso's Guide". June 19, 2009. Retrieved April 18, 2013. 
  22. ^ a b Ankeny, Jason. "Goo – Sonic Youth". AllMusic. Retrieved April 17, 2013. 
  23. ^ Wolk, Douglas (October 2006). "Back Catalogue: Sonic Youth". Blender (52): 154–55. 
  24. ^ Kot, Greg (September 27, 1992). "The Evolution Of Sonic Youth". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved June 21, 2013. 
  25. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Sonic Youth: Goo". Retrieved April 17, 2013. 
  26. ^ Sandow, Greg (July 6, 1990). "Goo". Entertainment Weekly (21). Retrieved June 21, 2013. 
  27. ^ Gold, Jonathan (July 15, 1990). "Sonic Youth 'Goo' DGC". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 12, 2015. 
  28. ^ Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian, eds. (2004). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. Simon & Schuster. pp. 758–59. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8. 
  29. ^ Brown, Russell (July 1990). "Youth Culture". Select (1). 
  30. ^ "Sonic Youth: Goo". Uncut (101): 121. October 2005. 
  31. ^ Kot, Greg; Leland, John; Sheridan, David; Robbins, Ira; Pattyn, Jay. " :: Sonic Youth". Retrieved April 17, 2013. 
  32. ^ Petruisch, Amanda (November 17, 2003). "Staff Lists: Top 100 Albums of the 1990s | Features | Pitchfork". Pitchfork. Retrieved April 18, 2013. 
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  34. ^ " – Sonic Youth – Goo". Retrieved April 18, 2013. 
  35. ^ a b "Sonic Youth | Artist | Official Charts". Retrieved April 18, 2013. 
  36. ^ a b "Goo – Sonic Youth : Awards : AllMusic". AllMusic. AllRovi. Retrieved April 18, 2013. 
  37. ^ "The Irish Charts – All There Is to Know". Retrieved April 18, 2013. 


External links[edit]