Sonic Youth - Death Valley '69

Artist: Sonic Youth
Song: Death Valley ‘69
Album: Bad Moon Rising (1994)

Sonic Youth began way back in 1980 in the downtown disaster unit of NYC. First three records (Sonic Youth, Confusion is Sex, Kill Yr Idols) began in 1981 on the Neutral label started by Glenn Branca. They then signed to Gerard Cosloy’s Homestead imprint releasing Bad Moon Rising and the Flower/Halloween 12” to universal intrigue and acclaim. They switched labels to release records (Sister, Evol) on SST, the Southern California label overseen by Greg Ginn of Black Flag, while Mr. Cosloy went on to join Matador Records with Chris Lombardi. Concurrently they established a relationship with Paul Smith and Blast First Records in the UK co-releasing the Homestead and SST titles and culminating with the massive end of the decade double LP Daydream Nation, since added to the National Recording Registry at the Library of Congress.

Bad Moon Rising is an album of inspired contradictions. Chilling yet pastoral, artful yet politicized, it documents a band at odds with its own impulses and the culture that spawned them. You can hear Sonic Youth struggling to define their identity in a medium that turned its back on such pursuits long ago. The album closer, "Death Valley '69" (with vocal contributions from Lydia Lunch) is the group's most rewarding dalliance into straightforward rock to date and a promising sign of things to come. But the song is epilogue to a conflict between posture and innovation. Over the next three years--climaxing with 1988's Daydream Nation--Sonic Youth would pursue the latter of these impulses with peerless results. But Bad Moon Rising is arguably their first essential release. It marks a crucial turning point in the band's history--the moment when an experiment became an institution. --Matt Hanks


The video for "Death Valley '69" was filmed in 1985 and was the first music video by Sonic Youth, directed by Richard Kern. The video features the majority of the band in various states of bloody dismemberment interlaced with live footage of the band. The video is the only one to feature both the recently departed drummer Bob Bert, and then new member Steve Shelley.
Sonic Youth never talk about bikes, but at 1:08 minutes of this video there’s a bike…

Video bicycle

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