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Saturday, July 9, 2011

Sonic Youth - Master Dik EP

Released : January 1988
Genre : Alternative rock
Length : 19:22
Label : SST Records (US), Blast First (UK)

A must-have for diehard S.Y. fans, though I doubt most of the band's biggest fans have even heard it. It was apparently their final release on SST (right before leaving for pseudo-indie Enigma), and they wanted to pull out all the stops by releasing the most baffling, obnoxious 12" possible. There are so many little in-jokes and spoofs in these grooves, but the most obvious is the title, a spoof on the haughty Masterdisk mastering studio in NYC.
Side A is the "beatbox version" of "Master-Dik." This means it uses a drum machine instead of Steve on drums; some of the samples are also apparently a bit different. It's very similar to the "non-beatbox version" version tacked onto the end of CD copies of Sister; in other words, it's fuckin' wickedly hilarious. It is generally viewed as a creation of S.Y.'s pop culture skewering alter-ego Ciccone Youth.
The Youth were subjected to countless grueling interviews while on the road, even before making it big overground. "Under The Influence Of The Jesus And Mary Chain" is just an interview snippet in which the band is asked by a French interviewer (via a translator) if they were influenced by said floppy-haired limey douchebags. There is some atonal feedback, someone laughs, and then Lee blithely proclaims "No, not at all!" It's a priceless moment, summing up why almost every U.S. indie band in the '80s despised JAMC.
"Beat On The Brat" is a throwaway Ramones cover. "Florida Oil Drums" is some heavily-reverbed oil drums being whacked. "Westminster Chimes" is simply church bells; Lee was always fond of recording these while on tour, and he often worked snippets of them into S.Y.'s live shows between songs, and on his own solo albums. There are some bratty live recordings from the band's appearance on Swiss radio in July '87 ("Max Roach, ladies and gentlemen!"). "Our Backyard" is a "field recording" of the band's backyard, apparently. The very last "song" is a 4-second snippet of cars driving by.

Tracks

1. Master-Dik
2. Beat on the Brat
3. Under the Influence of The Jesus & Mary Chain / Ticket to Ride / Master-Dik (version) / Introducing the Stars
4. Ringo / He's on Fire / Florida Oil Drums / Westminster Chimes
5. Chinese Jam
6. Vibrato / Guitar Lick / Funky Fresh
7. Our Backyard
8. Traffick


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