Sonic Youth: “Brother James”

I dug up an old tape this morning of SY’s “Hold that Tiger”, a live show (bootleg?) from Japan in the late 80s. The vinyl copy is still in my mother’s basement with about four-hundred other choice albums from my collector days. The tape is scratchy, the sound quality sucks, but there is a song on it called “Brother James” which has always appealed to me. I don’t think they ever put it on any studio album.

It was something of a live favorite of theirs since 1985 or so, way before I or anyone really cared or knew who they were. The first time I heard them – thanks, Joe! – I thought it was utter crap. I was still into the likes of the Red Hot Chili Peppers in 1989-90. Then something clicked and I fell geekishly in love with this band. Their music was the soundtrack for my first year in college. Since “Brother James” is ostensibly about a trip to hell, I figure it captures perfectly the mood of those few years.

*I didn’t bother uploading one of SY’s 80’s performances of this song because the quality is normally awful. This version, at the height of their “selling-out” period, captures the particular dynamic of this song well. It’s all about Steve Shelley’s primal drumming and Kim Gordon’s indecipherable yowling anyway. The rest, as they say, is noise.

One thought on “Sonic Youth: “Brother James”

  1. Not sure if you ever heard this one, genius

    Did you see the Youth down in the RVA play on Browns Isle was it 1992 or so? Well

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