Sonic Youth to reissue bootleg from 1986, ‘Walls Have Ears’

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Sonic Youth to reissue live bootleg from 1986, 'Walls Have Ears'

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(Photo by A.J. Barratt) In 1986, a unique 2LP set titled “Walls Have Ears” captured the performances of Sonic Youth from three UK gigs in 1985. Initially a bootleg release on 2×12″ vinyl, unauthorized and without the band’s consent, this album will officially release on February 9, 2024, through Goofin’ Records.

The album documents Sonic Youth’s dynamic live energy. Tracks 1–7, recorded on October 30, 1985, in London, showcase the band’s raw sound. Track 8 captures the intensity of their November 8, 1985, performance at Brighton Beach, Brighton. Tracks 9–17, from an April 28, 1985, concert in London, where they supported Nick Cave at Hammersmith Palace, feature Thurston Moore, Lee Ranaldo, Kim Gordon, and Bob Bert. Later tracks introduce new drummer Steve Shelley, who replaced Bert.

Stevie Chick, in his book “Psychic Confusion: The Sonic Youth Story,” asserts that “The Walls Have Ears” is a crucial and electrifying document of the group at their live best. Despite being unloved by its creators, this album captures Sonic Youth playing with a violent and ecstatic abandon, proving that sometimes artists are not the best judges of their own work.”

This album marks Sonic Youth’s second UK appearance, building upon their high profile from their 1983 London debut. Despite facing technical challenges and overwhelming volume, the band significantly impacted the audience.

Sonic Youth bootleg gets second chance

“The Walls Have Ears” is a compilation of Sonic Youth’s early classics, including “The Burning Spear”, “I Love Her All The Time”, “Death Valley 69”, and “I’m Insane”. The raw recordings, interspersed with Madonna tape segues and vocal loops, reflect the band’s inventive approach before having a full stage crew. The album also includes an introduction by Claude Bessy, the French punk raconteur, humorously critiquing the indie label scene during their October 30th ULU London gig.

You can now watch a teaser for the album, featuring recovered VHS footage from these iconic 1985 performances.

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