Thursday, April 8, 2010


American alternative rock group Sonic Youth released their sixth studio album, Goo, all the way back in the dinosaur days of June, 1990. Noted as one of their greatest and best-known works, Goo has all the makings of a musically and visually classic album.

In fact, I love this album cover so much that I have a poster of it in my room. Admittedly, I even noticed its main image
tattooed on the arm of “Ren,” the newest grungy, outspoken model on America’s Next Top Model. Although I was forced to watch it against my free will (go ahead and roll your eyes) I do have to say I was pleasantly surprised.

For a while I really liked that image of those two “cool kids” because, well, I just really liked it. But upon more intricate research I found a deeper meaning behind the illustration, and it has since brought a brand new depth to the cover.

Illustrated by
Raymond Pettibon, it depicts a photograph taken way back in 1966 of Maureen Hindley and David Smith, her husband at the time. They were both witnesses to a criminal trial involving Hindley’s sister Myra and Ian Brady. Both Hindley and Brady were later convicted as serial murders in what is now known as the “Moors Murders” in Greater Manchester, England, involving the brutal killings and sexual assault of five children in the area.

In a stark black and white print, the image is accompanied by the words: “I stole my sister’s boyfriend. It was all whirlwind, heat and flash. Within a week we killed my parents and hit the road.”

While the words don’t directly correlate with the image and its actual history, it still holds that same sentiment of lethal youth, rebellion and what frightening capabilities young, seemingly normal individuals can hold. Sonic Youth’s music connects with that anguish, from the haunting Karen Carpenter death track “Tunic (Song for Karen)” to the “too cool for school” songs “My Friend Goo” and “Kool Thing”.

The entire album delivers an evocative statement of societal rioting and addressing mainstream taboos — anorexia, murder and “real tattoos” just to name a few. With its grim background, it only adds more fascination to an already amazing jacket. Then again, Sonic Youth never fails to impress me.

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