Deluxe Edition 2 CD set features 35 tracks including b-sides and previously unreleased versions. Sonic Youth's second major-label album, produced and mixed by Butch Vig and Andy Wallace (a team that had helped turn Nirvana's NEVERMIND multi-platinum) was not the barefaced bid for mainstream acceptance that surly underground souls grumbled about in the pages of fanzines. While Vig and Wallace give guitarists Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo, bassist Kim Gordon, and phenomenal drummer Steve Shelley a wide-screen panorama for their bizarrely-tuned assaults, DIRTY is probably Sonic Youth's most uncompromising album since 1985's BAD MOON RISING–particularly in the lyrical department. Dropping the deliberate obscurantism, Philip K. Dick references, and smart-alecky snottiness, Sonic Youth brackets a slew of pointed political attacks ("Youth Against Fascism," "Swimsuit Issue," and the Jesse Helms-bashing "Chapel Hill") with two passionate tributes to the band members' murdered friend, Joe Cole ("100%" and "JC"). That DIRTY is Sonic Youth's most commercial-sounding album makes it that much more subversive.
After spending the 1980s terrorizing the underground alternative scene with their oddly tuned guitars and inventive song structure, this New York City art-punk band started the next decade with a major label deal and a determination to make rock loud and sexy for all concerned.
The album itself remains one of Sonic Youth's best balances of experimentalism and accessibility.
Any doubts as to the continuing relevance of Sonic Youth upon their jump to major-label status were quickly laid to rest by Goo, their follow-up to the monumental Daydream Nation. While paling in the shadow of its predecessor, the record is nevertheless a defiant call to arms against mainstream musical values; the Geffen logo adorning the disc is a moot point – Goo is, if anything, a portrait of Sonic Youth at their most self-indulgently noisy and contentious, covering topics ranging from Karen Carpenter ("Tunic") to UFOs ("Disappearer") to dating Jesus' mom ("Mary-Christ"). Even Public Enemy's Chuck D joins the fracas on the single "Kool Thing," which teeters on the brink of a cultural breakthrough but falls just shy of the mark; the same could be said of Goo itself – by no means a sellout, it nevertheless lacks the coherence and force of the group's finest work, and the opportunity to violently rattle the mainstream cage slips by.