bad moon rising will always have priority of place among sonic youth albums in my brain and ears. i first heard it as a college freshman in fall 1985, probably through/with my radio station buddy david grubbs (very shortly thereafter of squirrelbait and subsequent gastr del sol fame).
it was unlike anything i had heard before -- or since, frankly. of course the title was going to evoke creedence clearwater revival as sure as the cover photo, flaming pumpkinhead scarecrow against a post-industrial backdrop that could just as easily be cleveland's flats or tremont as it could be jersey, warned: this is not kid's stuff, we are playing with fire here, we are going to light up your head.
here was a purportedly guitar-based rock album that was at the same time eschewing song structures and nearly anything remotely like conventional electric guitar sounds. loosely stitched together with lou reed metalmachinemusic noiseloops and cut-and-spliced stooges were these incantations about how brave men run in my family and society is a hole, all set against a chiming swirling holy electroguitar din. i mean, how were they getting those sounds? this was not mere i-heard-her-call-my-name or gang-of-four feedback-drenched guitar, this shit was sounding like swarms of killer bees, power transformers on their last hum, frozen snapped windshieldwiper blades, railroadspike windchimes, fortyfoot chinese gongs or tibetan trumpets.
today we can look back on 25 years of this band's existence and take stock...