Additional personnel: Ian MacKaye (guitar).
Recorded at Magic Shop, New York, New York in early 1992.
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.
What the critics say...
Rolling Stone (9/3/92, p.63) - 4 Stars - Excellent - "...DIRTY is a great Sonic Youth disc, easily ranking with DAYDREAM NATION  and SISTER  among the band's most unified and unforgettable recorded works...a scorched and scorching whole. DIRTY is a burner..."
Spin (12/92, p.67) - Ranked #3 in Spin's list of the 20 Best Albums Of The Year - "...the spectrum of sound and fury unleashed by Sonic Youth is the perfect soundtrack for a generation..."
Spin (9/92, p.101) - Recommended - "...In an era of reduced expectations, Sonic Youth remains uncompromised--integrity and soul intact..."
Spin (9/92, p.101) - Recommended - "...the new Sonic Youth album rocks...Sonic Youth remains uncompromised--integrity and soul intact...the vocals have never sounded better, nor have the guitars...a wonderful record..."
Entertainment Weekly (1/7/93, p.123) - Ranked #1 in Entertainment Weekly's list of the Top 10 Albums Of 1992 - "...Rock & roll--whatever that archaic phrase means in the '90s--simply doesn't get more vital and intense than this..."
Entertainment Weekly (8/14/92, p.58) - "...much-needed proof that the old-fangled concept of a rock guitar band can still result in vital, undeniably moving music...every other rock & roll record that visits our planet this year will have a hard time topping [DIRTY]..." - Rating: A
Q (1/93, p.72) - Included in Q's list of the 50 Best Albums Of 1992.
Uncut (5/03, p.114) - 5 stars out of 5 - "...Crammed with contagious grunge-pop and deafening plectrum-grinding chaos....A must..."
The Wire (5/03, p.71) - "...DIRTY is all the better for piled-on confusion..."
Option (9-10/92, p.128) - "...as solid and uncompromising an album as Sonic Youth has made...Sonic Youth is already one of the defining bands of its generation, far more significant in terms of their influence and artistic import than bands which far outsell them..."
Village Voice (3/2/93, p.5) - Ranked #8 in the Village Voice's list of the 40 Best Albums Of 1992.
Stereo Review (12/92, p.104) - "...[a] grunge-pop masterpiece...packs maximum snarl and pummeling dissonance...The fraying fabric and internal contradictions embodied in DIRTY are precisely the point, and Sonic Youth makes it brilliantly..."
Mojo (Publisher) (3/03, pp.118-9) - 4 stars out of 5 - "...DIRTY was as close as Sonic Youth would ever come to an orthodox noise: a crisp rockist beast, with all the pro-studio trimmings. It is also compact proof of the rock'n'roll heart that beats inside their fire music..."
- Swimsuit Issue
- Theresa's Sound-World
- Drunken Butterfly
- Wish Fulfillment
- Sugar Kane
- Orange Rolls, Angel's Spit
- Youth Against Facism
- Nic Fit
- On The Strip
- Chapel Hill
- Creme Brulee
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