Friday, January 17, 2014

The Moore the merrier

As a fan of both lists and Thurston Moore, this was a great find: his favourite 38 songs of all time. It's a fascinating selection, for a number of reasons.

First of all, while there are representatives from the New York scene that gave birth to Sonic Youth - Lou Reed and Patti Smith, plus no wave outfits Mars and Teenage Jesus & The Jerks (both stars of the influential Eno-produced No New York compilation) - the omissions are striking: no Ramones, Television, Suicide, Swans or Talking Heads. In their place are some slightly surprising inclusions: Archie Shepp, Billie Holiday, folkies Jackson C. Frank and Anne Briggs, Beach Boys ('Hang On To Your Ego'), David Bowie ('Five Years') and Sparks ('Equator').

Secondly, the weight given to hardcore (particularly DC hardcore) is notable, particularly given the relative lack of leftfield experimentalist stuff. None of it particularly grabbed me other than Minor Threat's straight-edge manifesto 'Out Of Step', which is head and shoulders above the rest - though the inclusion of the Untouchables' 'Nic Fit', covered by Sonic Youth on Dirty, was also very welcome.

And then there are his choices of tracks for Nirvana, Dinosaur Jr and Mudhoney: 'Dive', 'Little Fury Things' and 'In N Out Of Grace' respectively. 'Dive' and 'Little Fury Things' wouldn't come close to being my picks for those two bands, but 'In N Out Of Grace' - which I'd forgotten kicks off with the same Peter Fonda sample from The Wild Angels as Primal Scream's 'Loaded' - is superb, a neat illustration of why both their appearance at the 10 Years Of ATP festival and last year's Vanishing Point album were a disappointment.

Finally, it was a reminder of some classic British punk songs (none of which were from the Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Buzzcocks or Wire) - 'Hong Kong Garden' by Siouxsie & The Banshees, 'Public Image' by Public Image Ltd and 'New Rose' by The Damned - as well as a timely nudge to investigate other acts I know shamefully little about: Captain Beefheart ('Electricity'), The Slits ('Love Und Romance'), Bush Tetras ('Too Many Creeps').

Moore was asked to make the selection by The Fly, who are naming him as a Living Legend at their annual awards next month. Not that he's resting on his laurels, with his black metal supergroup Twilight due to release a new album in March. That said, they won't be taking up any more of his time, given that they've already split.

What of Moore's estranged wife and Sonic Youth bandmate Kim Gordon? Well, she's keeping herself busy too, what with her new band Body/Head, an appearance in HBO series Girls, and chatting to artist Raymond Pettibon, the designer of the iconic Goo image as well as the Black Flag logo and several of their album covers (in truth, it doesn't make for the most stimulating or informative interview ever).

Incidentally, Pettibon continues to work on album covers, the latest being for punk supergroup OFF!'s forthcoming second album Wasted Years. Given the personnel involved - Keith Morris (Black Flag, Circle Jerks), Dimitri Coats (Burning Brides), Steven McDonald (Redd Kross) and Mario Rubalcaba (Hot Snakes, Rocket From The Crypt and many others) - it's a wonder I hadn't heard of them before.

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