Sunday, April 05, 2020

Radio gaga

I've said it before but I'll say it again: Sonic Youth were an incredibly important band not only in terms of what they produced but also in terms of what they promoted. With their own music, they turned generations of fans on to everything from hardcore punk and no wave to improv and musique concrete - and with their signposting on record and in interviews, they directed devotees to discover the work of legions of other artists.

Thankfully, that hasn't changed with the band's demise, with Thurston Moore talking through his 38 favourite songs of all time, chatting to Fucked Up's Damian Abraham about his musical inspirations and most recently opening an experimental music shop; Lee Ranaldo revealing his 13 favourite albums in conversation with the Quietus and inviting people to check out what's in his Amoeba bag; and now Kim Gordon taking the opportunity, while filling in for Iggy Pop on 6 Music on Friday night, to pay tribute to some of the artists and songs she holds most dear.

Make no mistake, her playlist was extraordinarily good from start to finish. The opening sequence - The Fall's 'Gut Of The Quantifier', Nina Simone's cover of Leonard Cohen's 'Suzanne', an out-there Alice Coltrane track and The Stooges' 'Ann' (well, it was only polite) - set the standard sky-high and it never really dropped.

Television and DNA you could have predicted - likewise Neil Young, represented by the incredible 'Cortez The Killer'. But there were also some stone-cold classics (My Bloody Valentine's 'When You Sleep', Mazzy Star's 'Fade Into You'), underappreciated gems ('Shame' by PJ Harvey, 'Something On Your Mind' by Karen Dalton), a smattering of tasters from the leftfield (Islaja, Brigitte Fontaine singing "The earth is a cake" in French) and several tracks that have given me the prod I shouldn't really have needed to investigate particular records further (Heron Oblivion and solo LPs from Nico, J Mascis and Eleanor Friedberger).

It wasn't hard to understand what Gordon heard and liked about Talk Normal - and why she's employed members of the band in her own. And while her selection of tracks by Cardi B and Charli XCX may have raised a few eyebrows a while ago, it helped to make more sense of last year's debut solo LP No Home Record - which, in turn, meant that I enjoyed the work of artists I'd previously assumed wouldn't be for me.

The Aimee Mann track was dull, and I took an instant dislike to Stina Nordenstam's artful mangling of 'Purple Rain' - but just two duds in a two-hour tracklisting was pretty good going.

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