WASHING MACHINE
   
TRACK LIST:

1. Becuz 4:43
2. Junkie's Promise 4:02
3. Saucer-Like 4:25
--
4. Washing Machine 9:33
5. Unwind 6:02
6. Little Trouble Girl 4:29
 
(see notes below re: US vs Euro pressing sequencing)
 
7. No Queen Blues 4:35
8. Panty Lies 4:15
9.   2:49
10. Skip Tracer 3:48
--
11. The Diamond Sea 19:35
 

NOTES

Sonic Youth's eleventh album "Washing Machine" is the first record to almost exclusively feature Kim on guitar rather than bass, and contains some of their lengthiest material since "Goo" and "Daydream Nation", including the epic "Diamond Sea" which drifts onward for an unprecedented 20 minutes, still the longest track on any SY album (excluding the SYR releases). Incidentally, "The Diamond Sea" would prove to be one of the band's most popular songs, and it along with SY's headlining spot on the summer Lollapalooza tour would introduce legions of new fans to their music.

HISTORY

The first show I'm aware of that featured "Washing Machine" material was on March 25th, 1995 in Granada, Spain. Towards the end of a fairly lengthy set they played instrumental versions of three new songs including "Becuz" & "Washing Machine" (the third song's identity is unknown to me). This would later become standard sonic practice -- debuting new material live instrumentally, instead of perfecting the vocal and layout first. At this point they were already in the midst of recording, having set up their own 8-track studio to lay down demos, before heading down to Memphis, Tennessee to work w/ John Siket on 16-track at Easley Studios to finish the album proper. The "Washing Machine" liners state that the album was recorded between January and May '95 -- I'm not sure exactly when they were in Memphis. In any case, the album was probably mostly finished by the time they commenced their first tour since July 1993, a brief run through various Northeast colleges and universities in late April (in fact, the album's cover photograph was taken at the April 28th Amherst, MA show, indicating that the "Washing Machine" concept was already well under way). This brings up a point worth mentioning -- at some point in early '95, Sonic Youth were seriously considering changing their name to "Washing Machine" -- how seriously, I'm not sure, but I do think it was a little more than a gag.

The college shows were more or less a warm-up for the next tour, which was the opening slot on R.E.M.'s "MONSTER" tour, or at least part of it -- this was SY's first tour as an opener since the Crazy Horse debacle in '91 (and for the most part, it went over a lot better). The tour was to begin on May 1st, literally immediately after the college tour, but things came to a halt when R.E.M.'s drummer Bill Berry suffered the effects of an aneurysm onstage in Lausanne, Switzerland on March 1st. Though he recovered fully, there was a period where it was uncertain whether R.E.M.'s tour (their first since 1989!) would continue... in the end, 2 weeks of dates were cancelled (Sonic Youth were to open these shows), and the tour picked up again, with Sonic Youth, on May 15th. It was at this show that Sonic Youth debuted "The Diamond Sea", probably having written in within the 2 weeks prior (and I don't think they were still working in Memphis at this point, so perhaps the LP version was recorded back in NYC?). All of "Washing Machine", except for "Little Trouble Girl", was performed throughout the tour (their standard set length was 7 songs), though most still had working titles: "Thumb" would become "Saucer-Like"; "Jim Carrol" would become "Becuz"; "Voidoid" would become "No Queen Blues"; "Pick Droppa" would become "Skip Tracer"; "New Wave Bass Line" would become "Panty Lies"; and "Kim's Tune" would become "Washing Machine".

The R.E.M. tour found Sonic Youth as openers in front of huge, stadium crowds -- but a mere month later they would find themselves headlining before huge, stadium crowds. The tour: Lollapalooza '95. Supporting acts: Pavement, Beck, The Jesus Lizard, Hole, Sinead O'Connor (later Elastica), Cypress Hill, and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, along with a host of second stage wonders. Sonic Youth's sets on this tour literally covered their entire career, performing an unprecedented total of 33 different songs over the month-and-a-half-long tour. Following Lollapalooza, SY did two shows overseas, one in Barcelona and one in Paris (the latter of which provided 4 songs for an eventual bonus disc included with "Washing Machine"), before returning to NYC to make their 3rd appearance on David Letterman's show on September 22nd, performing the first single, "The Diamond Sea" (sans outro, naturally).

The album was released the following week, after which they embarked on yet another tour in October/November. This time around, the venues were comfortable theatres and clubs, but the set list variation was not affected. While on a 2-day, 3-show stop in NYC, they performed "The Diamond Sea" on another TV show, "The State". The sonic tour wheel did not stop spinning -- an Australian/New Zealand tour in late December took them into the new year, followed by a brief tour of some new territory (Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Phillipines, and Hong Kong) with the Foo Fighters and the Beastie Boys. Less than 2 months later, they were on the road again, for the first real Washing Machine European tour, in March and April. Upon their return home, they made another TV appearance, their first on Late Night w/ Conan O'Brien. They did not, however, play current single "Little Trouble Girl", instead they tore through a furious version of "Junkie's Promise". After 2 more stray shows, they slowed down a bit -- though they did make their first of 3 consecutive annual appearances at the Tibetan Freedom Concert, on June 16th, 1996 in San Francisco. They performed only 4 songs, the inseparable "Bull in the Heather"/"Starfield Road" combo, "Saucer-Like", and a lengthy version of "The Diamond Sea" (which was the standard set closer at virtually every show in '95 and '96). In August '96 they travelled to Hungary and Israel for the first time, and finished this 6-date tour at the Reading Festival in England. After one more show in Spain in November, Sonic Youth's extremely busy 2 years of touring was finished, and the band took a well-deserved break from serious touring in 1997, free to focus on their new studio and a slew of new recordings.

That said, I've completely ignored the album itself! "Washing Machine" is a fairly transitional record in SY's catalog. After a couple of records without any sprawling, lengthy songs (the longest song on Dirty was "Sugar Kane", clocking in at 5:56), "Washing Machine" offers several tracks that break their own previous records. The title track exceeds 9 minutes and, up until then, was the longest track on a Sonic Youth album (prior to its release, that award went to... "The Good And The Bad", from their first release!). While "The Good And The Bad" held that record for 13 years, "Washing Machine" held it for about 45 minutes... the album's closing track, the epic "Diamond Sea", almost reaches 20 minutes (and an "alternate ending" mix actually pushes 25 minutes!). This is all just trivial, really, but it's noteworthy that "Jet Set" really was their last record comprised of really short songs. Washing Machine's first track, "Becuz", originally stretched to 7 minutes... supposedly the label was worried about the accessibility of an album whose lead-off song was "that long", so SY trimmed the coda off and inserted it towards the end of the album, uncredited (the official copywritten title is "Becuz Coda"). The band was so satisfied with their 8-track demo of "Panty Lies" that they felt no need to re-record it in Memphis, and the scratchy intro to "No Queen Blues" was culled from the same demos -- it was mixed in with the 16-track take from Memphis, demonstrating SY's ability to truly shape a song to fit their ideal vision within the studio. For the first time since "Daydream Nation", Lee sings lead vocals on more than one song (and co-vocal with Thurston on "Unwind"). The album also featured some guest vocalists: Kim Deal, along with Lorette Velvette and Melissa Dunn, on the haunting "Little Trouble Girl".

The album was released on double-vinyl, as well as a few double-CD packages: one included a bonus disc w/ 4 live songs from the September 12th, 1995 Paris gig ("Starfield Road" "Eric's Trip" "The Diamond Sea" & "Teen Age Riot"); one was bundled w/ the "Screaming Fields of Sonic Love" compilation. The first single was "The Diamond Sea", with the aforementioned alternate ending version on the b-side, as well as a quirky little ode to narcotics sung by Thurston and Kim, entitled "My Arena". Seven months later, the second single was released, "Little Trouble Girl", with an instrumental version on the b-side, along with the 18-minute studio improvisation "Terry's Carrot".

PACKAGING

The image of 2 fans wearing "Washing Machine" shirts on the cover was taken after the April 28th, 1995 show at Amherst College in Amherst, MA. The shirts were signed by opening act Come. There was actually an MTV news bulletin a short while later calling out for the fans to contact the band to grant them permission to use the photograph for the album cover. The bulk of the album art is presented in polaroid photograph squares -- in fact, it all is! The CD back cover features 6 squares, one of which shows a card w/ a preliminary running order for the album (note that Saucer-Like is still titled "Thumb" at this point), with "Trouble Girl" and "My Arena" listed off to the side under "also"... The proper track list is at the bottom, w/ no listing for track 9. The CD insert folds out to 4 double-sided pages. One side has the album cover, portraits of the individual band members (and Coco, held upside down by Thurston), the house image used for the "Diamond Sea" single cover, and a page w/ 4 pictures, one of which was used for the "Little Trouble Girl" single cover. The reverse of the insert has 2 full-page pictures and 2 pages w/ 4 panels each, all photos except for one credits panel. The disc itself depicts a monogrammed roll of masking tape.

CREDITS/LINERS

Produced by Sonic Youth with John Siket
Recorded by John Siket and Sonic Youth
Mixed by John Siket and Sonic Youth
Recorded at Easley Studios, Memphis;
Mott and Greene Street Studios, New York City;
January - May 1995 (16 & 8 track)
Mixed at Greene Street Studios, New York City, June 1995
Thanks to Dave Harrington
Assistant Engineers: Doug Easley, Davis McCain (Memphis);
Phil Painson (New York City)
Sonik Tech: Jim Vincent
Additional Vocals on "Little Trouble Girl": Kim Deal with Lorette Velvette and Melissa Dunn
Mastered by Greg Calbi at Masterdisk, New York, NY
A&R: Mark Kates
Management: John Silva / Gold Mountain Entertainment
Art Direction & Design: Mike Mills
Photography: Lance Acord
All songs written by Sonic Youth and Published by Sonik Tooth (adm. by Zomba Songs Inc.) BMI
Additional Lyrics on "Skip Tracer" by Leah Singer
Kim Deal appears courtesy of 4AD/Elektra Records
Thanks Bill Ryan, Maurice Menares, Payne's BBQ and Tchutch!

ADDITIONAL NOTES

From FILTER magazine 2006 SY discography self-commentary:

"It was so great to be out of NY recording somewhere else. Things were relaxed there . We ate a lot of barbeque from Payne's. I can't believe the record ever got recorded. It's one of my favorite's. Coko was about 8 months old. She met her first Elvis impersonator there. - KG"

Though not executed quite as extremely as on the previous 2 albums, Lee and Thurston's guitars are once again isolated to their own speakers -- Lee is in the left, Thurston is in the right.

Though "Thumb" (the working title for "Saucer-Like") does appear on the preliminary running order on the back of the album, the title "Trouble Girl" made it all the way to the promotional versions of the CD.

Steve's report from Sonic Death #7:

  • Sorry for those of you who've been waiting..We've been working on Washing Machine,our new lp, that just came out this week(9/26/95)- we recorded this new one in Memphis, TN at Easley Recording, a great studio near Payne's BBQ. John Siket who worked w/ us on Dirty and EJST&NS was our engineer and we produced the sucker. In between writing the songs earlier this year in our practice space and recording demos we ventured out for a few little tours -- maybe some of you caught us doing college shows around the E. Coast.
    (me and courtney are gonna start a band together w/ ex-crucifucks guys. Should be pretty punk. Look out for it. I'm thinking of singing a few songs on the next sonic album so you may wanna get ready for that too as it's bound to be fucking rad. Kill rock stars wants me to do a solo single but i figure...)
    Hey, that was writer's embellishment by Thurston alone w/ the powerbook! But really, after the college shows we went on a leg of theREM tourand some of you went and probably some of you said 'catch you next tmie' and then the next time turned into a mother of a tour: Lollapalooza. Say what you will, you probably never expected to see us on that tour and we never expected to be out there w/ it, but we got to tour w/ Beck, Jesus Lizard,Cypress Hill, Pavement and some other 'alt.' bands and we got to kick it out every night on the stupid-big stage w/ Floydian lights and the moon and stars. But let's get real - as I write this we're gearing up for a fall tour on our own in some rockin' places that you may or may not know... See you there.
Apparently the US version of the 2x12", though the artwork displays the four sides separated as detailed above, actually has "No Queen Blues" as the final track on side 2, with just "Panty Lies" thru "Skip Tracer" on side 3 (which perplexes me as side 2 already greatly outweighed side 1 with the inclusion of 'Washing Machine' and 'Unwind'). I realize now that my double-vinyl version is the European pressing, which plays as labelled above ("No Queen" on side 3).

For more information on songs (including lyrics, who played what, when the songs were first and last performed, and other trivia), please visit the Song Database.

RELATED RELEASES

  • THE DIAMOND SEA -- the first single from "Washing Machine".
  • LITTLE TROUBLE GIRL -- the second single from "Washing Machine".

    RELEASE INFO

    VINYL

    RELEASE DATE
    ORIGIN
    LABEL
    CATALOG #
    09/26/95
    US
    DGC
    DGC2-24825
    NOTES: 2x12" in gatefold.
    09/95
    Europe
    Geffen
    GEF 24825(2)
    NOTES: 2x12" in gatefold. made in germany
     
    CD

    RELEASE DATE
    ORIGIN
    LABEL
    CATALOG #
    1995
    US
    DGC
    DGCD-A-24825
    NOTES: advance promo CD.
    09/26/95
    US
    DGC
    DGCD-24825
    NOTES: CD release.
    09/26/95
    Canada
    DGC
    DGCSD-24825
    NOTES: CD release.
    09/95
    UK
    Geffen
    GED 24825
    NOTES: CD release.
    09/95
    Australia
    Geffen
    GEFD 24825
    NOTES: CD release.
    1995?
    Japan
    Geffen
    MVCG 182
    NOTES: CD release.
    1995?
    France
    Geffen
    GEFD 24825
    NOTES: CD release w/ "Screaming Fields of Sonic Love" compilation
    03/96
    Germany
    Geffen
    GED 24909
    NOTES: came w/ bonus disc w/ 4 live songs. the bonus CD is PRO-CD-4266
    ?
    Europe
    Universal/Geffen
    GED 24825 424 825-2
    NOTES: post-Universal CD reissue
     
    CASSETTE

    RELEASE DATE
    ORIGIN
    LABEL
    CATALOG #
    09/26/95
    US
    DGC
    ?
    NOTES: cassette release.
    09/95
    Europe
    Geffen
    GEC 24825
    NOTES: cassette release.
     

    INFO NEEDED FOR THIS RELEASE

  • Scans of the vinyl/cassette would be appreciated.
  • Please write me w/ anything that's missing!

  • CD insert panels 1 + 2 (cover)


    CD insert panels 3 + 4


    CD insert panels 5 + 6


    CD insert panels 7 + 8


    back (DGCSD-24285)


    disc (DGCSD-24285)


    advance promo CD


    2CD w/ bonus 4-song live disc


    2CD w/ screaming fields


    disc (CDGCD-24825)


    back (CDGCD 24825)


    back (GED 24825)


    cat panel from LP sleeve


    closet panel from LP sleeve


    vinyl gatefold


    vinyl side 1


    vinyl side 2


    vinyl side 3


    vinyl side 4


    vinyl back


    vinyl sleeve 1


    vinyl sleeve 2


    vinyl sleeve 3


    vinyl sleeve 4


    thai cassette


    japanese CD front


    japanese CD back


    japanese CD booklet