Yesterday I reviewed the new Lee Ranaldo album for the 405. As part of Matador's promotion of the album they have been asking people to put together playlists of Lee's Sonic Youth songs, so I have done my own. It's quite easy to just put all of Lee's songs back-to-back and have a thoroughly decent mix, but I tried to limit myself to ten. I couldn't manage this and I've had to add Hoarfost in at the end as a bonus, which brings in to 11.
So here is the mix on Spotify, with notes on the tracks in play order.
'Mote' from Goo, 1990
I started with this because it has the familiar "bell chime" guitar sound right at the beginning; a sound which over the years has become very assocaited with Sonic Youth. It's achieved by Lee fitting a pick-up behind the bridge of his guitar, so the high pitched untuned 'tinkle' gets amplified.
'What We Know' from The Eternal, 2009
This is a big rock song, with pounding beats and a great riff and chorus too.
'Eric's Trip' from Daydream Nation, 1988
Perhaps Lee's masterpiece. An almost literal trip with the words and music threatening to get out of control, I always love the way it ends mid-story - "theres something moving over there to the right, like nothing I've ever seen".
'In the Kingdom #19' from EVOL, 1986
This is probably the track that got him known as the 'spoken word guy', this is a story set against a squall of guitars and car racing fx.
Pipeline/ Kill Time, from Sister, 1987
Another total classic from the equally classic Sister LP. A progression from 'In the kingdom 19' and a blueprint for 'Eric's Trip'.
Wish Fulfilment, from Dirty, 1992
Lee was all over the double Daydream Nation album , but this was his major contribution to the similarly epic Dirty.
karen Koltrane, from A Thousand Leaves, 1998
An unusually dream-like song with some tasty guitar work near the end, pulling new sounds from his instrument many years into Sonic Youth's career.
Rain King. from Daydream Nation, 1988
More psych trippiness from Daydream Nation but a bit downbeat this time. The words are pure magic again.
Skip Tracer, from Washing Machine, 1996
Mainly included because Washing Machine gets overlooked, but also for the line "The guitar guy played real good feedback, and super sounding riffs." The most 'spoken-word' he had been for quite a while.
Karen Revisited, from Murray Street, 2002
A folky melody for a pretty 3 minute song which turns into an 8 minute bliss-out - it just rings in the air.
Hoarfrost, from A Thousand Leaves, 1998
I love this song, but it didn't fit the flow