1. Tom Violence 3:05
2. Shadow Of A Doubt 3:32
3. Star Power 4:48
4. In The Kingdom #19 3:25
5. Green Light 3:46
6. Death To Our Friends 3:19
7. Secret Girl 2:54
8. Marilyn Moore 4:04
9. Expressway To Yr Skull 7:19
10. Bubblegum [CD BONUS TRACK] 2:49


"EVOL" was Sonic Youth's fourth album, significant for one fairly obvious reason: the addition of Steve Shelley behind the kit. Steve joined the band in mid 1985, and this is the first album he plays on. EVOL also features the first real "guest appearance" on a Sonic Youth album -- Mike Watt, who contributes bass to "In The Kingdom #19" and the non-LP bonus track "Bubblegum". "Shadow Of A Doubt" became their second music video.

In 2015, the band reissued the original album in CD and vinyl format on its own Goofin' label.


At some point circa June 1985, after the first European Bad Moon Rising tour, Bob Bert left the band and was replaced by ex-Crucifucks drummer Steve Shelley. The 2 drummers actually had a fairly smooth transition -- both appear in the "Death Valley '69" video, and both performed at the June 12th Folk City show (along with King and Theresa from the Butthole Surfers -- four drummers, baby!). Almost immediately, the new line-up began composing material bound for EVOL, probably the first of which was "Expressway To Yr Skull" (aka "Madonna, Sean and Me", aka "The Cruifixion Of Sean Penn"). "Green Light" and "Secret Girl" (or "Girls", depending on which part of the artwork you look at) also surfaced in August and September 1985. Steve's first full-fledged tour with the band was the fall '85 European tour, from which one disc of the "Walls Have Ears" bootleg was taken (the other disc is from the spring '85 Euro tour, w/ Bert on drums). Steve proved fully able to drive the pre-EVOL songs, and some of the most intense versions of "Making The Nature Scene" "Inhuman" and "Flower" were performed on this tour. SY took a break after the tour to finish writing the EVOL material, and recorded once again at Before Christ w/ Martin Bisi in March 1986.

Mike Watt guested on bass for 2 songs recorded during the album sessions, "In The Kingdom #19" (Lee's first solo vocal track on a Sonic Youth album) and the Starpower b-side/EVOL CD bonus track "Bubblegum", a cover of an old Kim Fowley tune. It was then that the "Ciccone Youth" project began to take shape, and SY actually recorded their version of "Into The Groovey" and "Tuff Titty Rap" during the EVOL sessions. These 2 songs, along with Watt's band version of "Burnin' Up" (recorded in May '86) comprised the first Ciccone Youth single (released later that year). Sonic Youth debuted the new EVOL material live on April 12th, 1986 in Austin, TX -- later released officially via Sonic Death. "EVOL" was released on vinyl/cassette in May, and they toured Europe in May and June, performing the bulk of the album ("In The Kingdom #19" and "Bubblegum" were never played live) and choice cuts from the previous records. "White Kross" also made its first appearance (that I know of) at these shows, though it may have existed even earlier... They followed the European tour w/ an American tour in June and July (it was at this point that the "Starpower" single was released, with edits of the title track and "Expressway", as well as "Bubblegum"). After working on the "Made In USA" soundtrack in September and October, they took off for yet another jaunt across the States in November, this time touring with Watt's band fIREHOSE -- eventually the 2 bands worked up an encore of "Starpower" (w/ Watt on bass) and a cover of the Blue Oyster Cult's "The Red and The Black". In late '86 the album came out on CD, including "Bubblegum" and a colourful CD booklet.


The cover features a shot from the Richard Kern film "Submit To Me", of Lung Leg in all her fierce glory. The back cover includes a heart-shaped picture of the band and an out-of-order track list (w/ "Expressway To Yr Skull" titled "Madonna, Sean and Me" -- clearly SY were at the height of their Madonna fandom). The band members are listed, with no instruments assigned (beneath this it reads "guitars, vocals, drum" and "bass" is lost behind the heart-shaped band shot). There's a few production notes + Kern credits beneath this. The vinyl sleeve is double-sided and features all of the lyrics in a cut and paste manner, in glossy silver text. One side features lyrics for "Tom Violence" "In The Kingdom #19" and "Shadow of a Doubt" along with a live shot of a headless Lee, a leaping woman in midair, a drawing of a character from "THE NEW MUTANTS" comic bearing the caption "I'D GIVE MY SOUL TO BE WHERE I WAS A YEAR AGO...IF I HAD A SOUL LEFT TO GIVE" (w/ the Ecstatic Peace! logo at the bottom -- this appeared on a gig poster), and a picture of Thurston holding a sitar w/ eyes drawn on his hands (this was used for the "Starpower" single cover as well). The reverse side has lyrics for "Marilyn Moore" "Star Power" "Green Light" and "The Crucifixion Of Sean Penn" (aka "Expressway"), as well as a lengthy "thanks" list and still photos from 2 horror movies: "Friday The 13th Part 2" (girl w/ the pitchfork) and "Children Of The Corn" (crucified women/policeman). The Blast First and AuGoGo versions have an image blacked out in the upper righthand corner, on the SST version this appears to be 2 women. In Australia this was released in a silver bag w/ Bad Moon Rising and an EVOL era poster. The CD release has virtually the same front and back covers, with the lyrics in a color booklet. The lyrics are reproduced in the same fashion as on the vinyl sleeve, but there are additional photos (and some are omitted). The back cover of the booklet has a color photograph of the band in front of some amplifiers. The disc itself features a close-up shot of Thurston w/ the eyes drawn on his hands. The DGC booklet is the same, with an additional page for Lisa Crystal Carver's liner notes.


guitars, vocals, drum

EVOL produced by
Sonic Youth w/ MARTIN BISI
Engineered by MARTIN BISI
at BEFORE CHRIST, March 1986

Cover Girl - LUNG LEG
a film by RICHARD KERN
band photo by LEE
Love to Carlos

All songs written by Sonic Youth and Published (c)1986 Sonik Tooth (adm. by Zomba Songs Inc.) BMI except "Marilyn Moore" Music: Sonic Youth/Lyrics: Sonic Death/Lydia Lunch and "Bubblegum" written by Kim Fowley and published (c)1986 Kim Fowley Music.

THANKS TO Paul Smith, Gerard Cosloy, Richard Boon, Tony Oursler, Pinko, Liz + Pat, Lyle Hysen, Stuart Swezey, Byron Coley, Suzanne Sasic, Steve Albini, Ingo and Joachim, Mike Watt, Swans, Michael Sheppard, Necros, Dylan Cohl, Terry Tolken, Duane, Jack Brewer, Jimmy Johnson, Judith Barry, Glenn Branca, Tesco V., Butthole Surfers, Lydia L. + Jim Foetus, Bob Bert, Catherine + Nicholas, Ted, Boz, Bruce Pavitt, Mark Miller, Bradley Field, Alan ??, Jez, Jesus + the Mary Chain, PKD, Richard Edson, Don Graham, Meatjoy, Carmel Moran, Lawndale, Igor, Amanda + Cody, Vicki, Bira, Torsten, John Erskine, Stevie McAllister, Wharton Tiers, Jim Sclavunos, Greg Ginn, Chuck Bukowski, Rich, Ray Farrel, Mike Whittaker, Peter Davis, Henry, Jordan Schwartz, Einsturzende Neubauten, Burkhardts, Mick Harvey, Dinosaur, Live Skull, Crucifucks, Tar Babies, Die Kreuzen, Keller, Redd Kross, The Bangles, Edwin ??, Bruce S., Slaughter Joe, Jacko, Paul Schaeffer, The Challenger Crew, Das Damen, Don King, Squeaky, Marcus, Michael + the Berliners, P. Benatar, Mary Emerzian, John + Larissa, Raymond Pettibon, Jack Barron, Kid Congo, Sezame Calkin, Bob XGau, LL Cool J, Lisa Lisa, Arto L., Cagney + Lacey, ??, Ut


It was June, 1986. I was 17 - a New Hampshire native flying to Los Angeles with my best friend Rachel, 16, who dropped out of school to come with me. We didn't have any plans. We claimed our luggage and then the awful realization of our stupidity hit us - we didn't know where to sleep that night (or what to do after that). A kind policeman suggested we stay at a youth hostel. We did and hitched a ride the next day with an Australian named Ian who was going north (because Rachel decided she didn't like Southern California's trees). On the road, Ian pulled a knife and she screamed - then he cut a hunk of cheese. We finally ended up in Hayward, City Of Sin; about 50 used car lots, a cemetery and us. We had to give the landlord three months rent in advance because he thought we were runaways and was scared to have us as tenants. We rode the bus to San Francisco. While we knew some weird life existed (because everyone looked so bizarre), we didn't know a thing about it. We'd seen Sid and Nancy but this was something different, something happening in our time. We asked an employee at a record store to show us the good records. He picked records by SCRATCH ACID, LYDIA LUNCH, THE SWANS and SONIC YOUTH.

Lung leg - fierce! It is a terribly good thing for young girls to have fierce role models. Kim Gordon's bang is over her left eyebrow (making the brow look arched and thick). Rachel and I called her a "wind face." Another fierce female, Kim. Thurston Moore looks like he's about to saying something - and judging by the SONIC YOUTH videos that I've seen, he is. Steve Shelley looks about 12. Lee Ranaldo looks like the kind of guy who would write about car wrecks.

"Tom Violence" - I didn't know what it was about but I knew it was exciting because the world "violence" was in it. "I left home for experience" - me, too! "Carved suk for honesty on my chest." I was loyal to the truth, too. In fact, I spent so much time being loyal to the truth I got fired from Honeybear Yogurt. I had fantasies of Thurston Moore and David Bowie having sex. Why? I have no idea. Rachel and I would elbow each other madly whenever we saw tall guys with floppy blond hair, but they always turned out to be surfers, not Thurston.

"Shadow Of A Doubt" - Didn't have the word "violence" in it - it was violence. Plunging headlong, silently, with great noise all around, to destruction. The bliss of near impact.

"Star Power" - Even the music is in love.

"In the Kingdom #19" - The ultimate hipster response to disaster; "Smoke and flames, All right." Horrible how they ran over the small animal. Actually, I think this story is about states of existence.

"Green Light" - This song and "Star Power" taught me about love. Before hearing these three songs, I thought love had to be on moors and everyone had to be made like beasts and then die. But love can be a beautiful, hazy-green light. Green means go ahead.

"Death To Our Friends" - Climbing and descending. There are all kinds of things you can climb and descend.

"Secret Girl" - I remember listening to this on a walkman by the pool at our apartment complex. I never went in the pool because a family of 12 were in there peeing all the time. Kim Gordon's urgent secrets told with little more than her breath transported me.

"Marilyn Moore" - Begins with Thurston calling his cattle home and getting pissed when they don't come home. Marilyn Moore is like Baby Doll in the moving poster. Housewife or sleazy woman on prescription drugs and welfare...who's not getting any.

"Madonna, Sean and Me" - I wanted to kill the California girls, too. I wanted to fire the exploding load! I wanted to find the meaning of feeling good. This song is, I believe, about getting really, really close to someone - almost inside them. Then I think these really close people in the song went out and did bad things, like the Manson family did.

"Bubblegum" - Rock me like a hurricane! Ride the hyena to the edge! That feeling that anything's possible is all over this album, but it's especially shining here.

These songs say dreams are real. I can't think of a finer guide than "E.V.O.L." for a young person just discovering the wide world. Here are songs of total exploration, no positioning oneself on the dark side or the anti-dark side. Here are songs of total freedom. Give them to your little sister on her birthday.

      Lisa Crystal Carver
      San Francisco
      August 20, 1993


From FILTER magazine 2006 SY discography self-commentary:

"this is the record on which Steve Shelley takes over for drummer Bob Bert. rotting tenement barefoot-in-the-headtrip psyche. Lung Leg as post-wave superstar. features "Shadow Of A Doubt" and the sun-burnt "Expressway To Yr Skull". cover photo by R. Kern. - TM"


this is the record on which Steve Shelley takes over for drummer Bob Bert, rotting tenement barefoot-in-the-headtrip psyche. Lung Leg as post-wave superstar, features "Shadow Of A Doubt" and the infamous sun-burnt "Expressway To Yr Skull." cover phot by R. Kern. liner notes by Lisa Carver.

All vinyl versions feature a locked groove at the end of "Expressway To Yr Skull", hence the song's time listed as an "infinity" symbol on the vinyl label.

Lydia Lunch again collaborates w/ SY, though this time she doesn't perform. She wrote the second verse of "Marilyn Moore".

"FREINDS" typo on back cover is fixed on SST version...

Vinyl etchings (SST/Blast First):

  • Side 1: "Destroy all record labels"
  • Side 2: "Everything turns black to blue"
A copy purchased in North Wales in the late 80s has a peculiar defect - there is nothing printed on the center label and side two doesn't feature any SY songs, just tracks of silence interspersed with melancholy piano music. If you have any information on this mispressing, please contact me! The owner is very curious. Thanks! Update! I've since been contacted by another person who ended up with one of these. He was able to specify that there are 5 tracks on the b-side, and 1/3/5 are blank. 2 and 4 are 'Silent Woods, Op 68 No.5' by Chicago Symphony Orchestra/Jacqueline Du Pre. Side A has SST details on the label, but the record is in a Blast First sleeve.

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.


  • STARPOWER -- 7"/10"/12"/CD5/CD3/Cassette single.
  • INTO THE GROOVEY -- 7"/12" "Ciccone Youth" single recorded during EVOL sessions.
  • LIVE AT THE CONTINENTAL CLUB -- official bootleg CD released thru Sonic Death, features 4/12/86 premiere of most of "EVOL" material.
  • SCREAMING FIELDS OF SONIC LOVE -- collection of pre-DGC music videos, featuring "SHADOW OF A DOUBT".



    NOTES: original 12" release. w/ locked groove at end of expwy.
    NOTES: original 12" release. w/ locked groove at end of expwy.
    NOTES: sometimes sold packaged w/ Bad Moon in silver bag w poster.
    NOTES: reissue on pink vinyl. w/ locked groove at end of expwy.
    NOTES: blast first/mute reissue 12" w/ locked expwy groove
    ORG Music
    NOTES: remastered 180g reissue on pink vinyl (also black).
    NOTES: remastered LP reissue w/ download code for "bubblegum"

    NOTES: first CD release, w/ "bubblegum" as bonus track.
    SST CD 059
    NOTES: SST CD release, w/ "bubblegum" as bonus track.
    NOTES: DGC reissue w/ liner notes by Lisa Crystal Carver.
    GED 24513
    NOTES: Reissue w/ liner notes by Lisa Crystal Carver. Made in the EU
    MVCG 21015
    NOTES: Reissue w/ liner notes by Lisa Crystal Carver.
    GED 24513 424 513-2
    NOTES: post-Universal reissue
    NOTES: CD reissue, remastered

    SSTC 059
    NOTES: cassette release... with bubblegum?
    NOTES: blast first cassette release.
    NOTES: DGC cassette reissue.


  • Which cassette versions feature "Bubblegum"?
  • Better scan of blacked out picture (from SST insert) would be appreciated.
  • Scans of DGC cassette would be nice.
  • Please write me w/ anything that's missing!

  • vinyl back cover (blast first)

    vinyl sleeve side 1

    vinyl sleeve side 2

    vinyl label side 1

    vinyl label side 2

    DGC cd booklet covers

    cd booklet 1

    cd booklet 2

    cd booklet 3

    cd booklet 4

    cd booklet 5

    cd booklet 6

    cd booklet 7

    CD back (DGC)

    disc (DGC)

    sst cassette cover

    sst cassette

    vinyl back (sst)

    sst vinyl insert

    sst vinyl insert (other side)

    vinyl back (au go go)

    w/ Bad Moon Rising in bag (AuGoGo)

    contents of bag (AuGoGo)

    SST CD front

    SST CD back

    SST CD disc

    SST CD booklet 1

    SST CD booklet 2

    SST CD booklet 3

    blast first cassette

    blast first cassette

    pink vinyl

    women on sleeve that are blacked out