Bad Moon Rising is an album of inspired contradictions. Chilling yet pastoral, artful yet politicized, it documents a band at odds with its own impulses and the culture that spawned them. You can hear Sonic Youth strugglin... more »g to define their identity in a medium that turned its back on such pursuits long ago. The album closer, "Death Valley '69" (with vocal contributions from Lydia Lunch) is the group's most rewarding dalliance into straightforward rock to date and a promising sign of things to come. But the song is epilogue to a conflict between posture and innovation. Over the next three years--climaxing with 1988's Daydream Nation--Sonic Youth would pursue the latter of these impulses with peerless results. But Bad Moon Rising is arguably their first essential release. It marks a crucial turning point in the band's history--the moment when an experiment became an institution. --Matt Hanks« less
Bad Moon Rising is an album of inspired contradictions. Chilling yet pastoral, artful yet politicized, it documents a band at odds with its own impulses and the culture that spawned them. You can hear Sonic Youth struggling to define their identity in a medium that turned its back on such pursuits long ago. The album closer, "Death Valley '69" (with vocal contributions from Lydia Lunch) is the group's most rewarding dalliance into straightforward rock to date and a promising sign of things to come. But the song is epilogue to a conflict between posture and innovation. Over the next three years--climaxing with 1988's Daydream Nation--Sonic Youth would pursue the latter of these impulses with peerless results. But Bad Moon Rising is arguably their first essential release. It marks a crucial turning point in the band's history--the moment when an experiment became an institution. --Matt Hanks
"This would be album #2 by the best American rock band of the last 25 years. Actually, you can even scratch the "American" part, since no band in the last quarter century has been as influential or innovative. Sorry, Radiohead, I love ya, but Sonic Youth are the masters. U2? Don't even get me started.
On second thought, the "American" part might be appropriate for this release, which is among many other things a quasi-concept album about America, at least in an abstract way. Most of the songs bleed into each other, giving the impression of something larger going on. That would be at once accurate and off-base. Sonic Youth are a close-knit band, so ideas get passed around like a virus. A couple of years later, they were all reading the same science fiction novels and the result was a masterpiece, "Sister." "Bad Moon Rising" wasn't a conscious attempt at a concept album, but since it could easily be mistaken for one, why not? It gives people like me plenty to blather on about. It also helps when they call the opening instrumental "Intro." The album in general seems to be a view of the Heartland from the point of view of people who moved to New York an escape from it. The title, which isn't used in any of the lyrics, references the famous Creedence tune and seems to be a dire omen. An oblique comment on Ronald Reagan and "Morning in America"? Perhaps, but Sonic Youth are too wily to make simplistic political commentary. The lyrics are impressionistic, from "Society is a Hole" ("...it makes me lie to my friends...") to "Ghost Bitch" ("Our founding fathers land rite down/& Indian ghosts from long ago/They gave birth to my bastard kin/America it is called...") to the Manson family obsessing "Death Valley '69." A general air of paranoia and psychosis hangs over the procedings, epitomized by a song called simply "I'm Insane." Musically, SY alter their clanging, oddly tuned guitars into amorphous clouds of feedback and static, swathing everything in ominous murk. It works brilliantly, creating an album that demands to be listened to in one sitting.
If that sounds all deadly serious, SY bring the ROCK like nobody else. "Death Valley '69" brings in guest vocalist Lydia Lunch (she invented Courtney Love) and tears the place down. You may find yourself singing "I Love Her All The Time" even when you're not in a drugged-out stupor, which is what Thurston Moore sounds like, but it's still tuneful in some bizzarro-world kind of way. Kim Gordon's bass line on "I'm Insane," along with Bob Bert's tribal drumming is particularly compelling. (Side note: this would be Bert's first and last SY disc before leaving to join friendly rivals Pussy Galore; their "Dial M for Motherf******" is highly recommended)
The Geffen reissue edition adds on some crucial non-album tracks. "Flower" and "Halloween" were originally issued as 12" single and only add to the mayhem. Sonic Youth created the sound that defined the underground scene in NYC's Lower East Side, and soon this comment on the Heartland would influence it, giving rise to great (if lesser-known) bands such as the Cows and Hammerhead. Even today, the sheer freakiness of on display here is a "Bad Moon Rising" indeed, but in a good way."
Music of my life
Scott Bresinger | 06/28/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)
"First of all sorry for my english. It is certainly not good enough to express all my feelings and thoughts. But I will try. Iam fascinated by their music. They can express every mood. I can listen to their music everywhen because it is like my blood. The most impressive song of Bad moon rising is Intro. Just instrumental song, so deep, so eternal makes me cry and smile too. You can hear typical Thurston 's guitar. One of the best moments of this song is the moment after the pause after the guitar nostalgical start when drums bring new energy. They are an original of the original."
Frightening and Beautiful
Thomas Frey | 03/10/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Bad Moon Rising is arguably the best Sonic Youth album that I own (their debut "Confusion is Sex" comes in at a close second). Straddling the chasm between sonorous ambient noise and demonic art-punk fury, BMR raises out of the ashes of these contradictions to create a vicious beautiful sound. One song sounds like a foghorn in a foggy New York City night, until the song finally evolves, like a mutant tadpole, into a coherent song. Death Valley '69 is an anthem to bad trips and the dark psyche of the Sixties. A keeper. Insane and delicious. Enjoy."
Difficult Listening but Worth the Effort
Borkus | Richmond, VA United States | 06/23/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I think of Bad Moon Rising as Sonic Youth's "break-out" album. It's where the promise from "Brother James" on Kill Yr Idols and "Nature Scene" on Confusion is Sex begins to be fulfilled. It's not an album for the faint of heart - post Daydream Nation fans may find it downright abrasive. However, Bad Moon Rising is where the sound and essence of Sonic Youth takes shape - from the nightmarish noise of "Brave Men Run" and "I love her all the time" to the anthemic "Death Valley 69", this is where Sonic Youth really begins to take shape. Of their 80's releases, this album gives you the best idea of where Sonic Youth has come from and what they may still bring to the table. A "must have" for your SY collection."