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Sonic Youth were an American rock band from New York City, formed in 1981. Their final lineup consisted of Thurston Moore (guitar and vocals), Kim Gordon (bass, vocals, and guitar), Lee Ranaldo (guitar and vocals), Steve Shelley (drums), and Mark Ibold (guitar and bass). In their early career, Sonic Youth were associated with the No Wave art and music scene in New York City … (read more at Wikipedia)

Links To Peel

Sonic Youth were among the artists chosen by Peel to take part in the 1998 Meltdown festival. The band had been played on his show as far back as 1983 and recorded three sessions during the 1980s, including one devoted to Fall covers (although one song had originally been by the Kinks before being tackled by Peel’s favourite band). JP appreciated Sonic Youth’s liking for unexpected covers and played several by them during his July 1991 cover version shows, including one of a Madonna track by side project ‘Ciccone Youth.’

Before the New York outfit signed to a major at the end of the 1980s, Sonic Youth records were released in the UK by Blast First, with the band helpfully introducing many fellow veterans of the US alternative circuit to the Mute Records rock offshoot, which was subsequently described by Peel as "the most important label of the age".

Sonic Youth’s biggest success in the Peel show’s annual listeners’ chart was ‘Tunic (Song For Karen)’, which placed #5 in the 1990 Festive Fifty, and it was perhaps fitting that their final entry should be ‘Superstar’, a Carpenters cover that reached #47 four years later. In 1995, it was also among Peel's video selections in Ten Of The Best for VH1.

On 30 May 2001, in reply to a listener who asked if the band could be invited to do another session, Peel replied:

"The last time that we tried to book them to do a session when they came over here, their record company decided that it was the Lamacq programme or nothing. And it turned out to be nothing actually, because I don't think they did anything for Lammo... You get so fed up with big record company stuff like that. And we get it all the time, you know, so we just don't bother. Life is too short."

Festive Fifty Entries


Sonic Youth - Tunic (Song For Karen)

Tunic (Song For Karen)



Three sessions. #2 (Fall covers) released as 4 Tunna Brix (EP, 1989, Goofin'). “Expressway To Your Skull” from #1 on Rarities 3 (digital, 2020, Sonic Youth Archive). JP noted on the 02 April 2000 (BFBS) show that the band had contacted Kat's Karavan to arrange another one (after turning down other opportunities in the past), but it was obvious from his comments that he had by this time lost interest in their material, so a fourth never materialised.

1. Recorded: unknown. First broadcast: 19 May 1986. Repeated

  • Come And Smash Me / Expressway To Your Skull / Moonbeam Magic In A Glass Head Cage / Hallowed Be Thy Name

2. Recorded 1988-10-11. First broadcast: 19 October 1988. Repeated 05 December 1988, 25 December 1992

  • My New House / Rowche Rumble / Psycho Mafia / Victoria

3. Recorded: 1989-03-12. First broadcast: 20 March 1989. Repeated 03 May 1989

  • Corporate Ghost / Rubin's Beard / Major Label Chicken Feed / Clippers


  1. Burning Spear
  2. I Love Her All The Time
  3. The World Looks Red
  4. Brother James
  5. Kill Yr Idols
  1. 100%
  2. Dirty Boots
  3. Kool Thing
  4. Swimsuit Issue
  5. Genetic
  6. Teresa's Soundworld
  7. Tom Violence
  8. Sugar Kane
  9. Schizophrenia
  10. Drunken Butterfly
  11. Youth Against Fascism
  • 01 July 1998: live at Royal Festival Hall (for Meltdown curated by Peel)
  1. Karen Koltrane
  2. Wildflower Soul
  3. French Tickler
  4. Hits of Sunshine
  5. Sunday
  6. Heather Angel
  • 18 August 1998: with Spiritualized at the Royal Festival Hall for Meltdown '98. Recorded 1998-07-01.
  • Improvisation

Other Shows Played

The list below was compiled from the database of this site and Lorcan's Tracklistings Archive. Please add more information if known.

  • 21 January 1985 (BFBS): Death Valley '69 (12") (with Lydia Lunch)
  • 17 March 1995: Full Chrome Logic (Soundtrack LP-Made In USA) Rhino
  • 24 March 1995: Barchelor’s In Fur! (LP-Made In USA) Rhino
  • 09 June 1995: Eric's Trip (CD-Screaming Fields Of Sonic Love) Blast First
  • 04 January 2000: Sugar Kane (CD-Dirty) DGC (Peelenium 1992)
  • 02 April 2000 (BFBS): Nevermind (What Was It Anyway?) (LP-NYC Ghosts & Flowers) (Geffen)
  • 16 April 2000 (BFBS): Nevermind (What Was It Anyway?) (LP-NYC Ghosts & Flowers) (Geffen) (JP: 'I think perhaps the biggest disappointment at Camber Sands, at least according to the people that I spoke to, was the performance by Sonic Youth, which I did hear in its entirety. They played one kind of identifiable tune (there's nothing that says they must do this, I do appreciate that), but most of the rest of their stuff was kind of, you know, noise, droning, stuff like that. Nothing wrong with that: I like a lot of droning, really, but at the same time it sounded like retro droning, not kind of Millennium droning at all.')
  • 06 June 2000: Side2Side (LP: NYC Ghosts & Flowers) Geffen
  • 08 June 2000 (Radio Eins): Side2Side (LP - NYC Ghosts & Flowers) Geffen
  • August 2003 (FSK): Mariah Carey And The Arthur Doyle Handcream (shared 7" with Erase Errata - Buddy Series Vol. #1) Narnack
  • 19 May 2004: Pattern Recognition (LP-Sonic Nurse) Geffen
  • 09 November 2004 (Rob Da Bank): 'Schizophrenia' (LP- Sister) - (Blast First)
Thurston Moore
(The Sonic Youth guitarist was also a member of the Backbeat Band, who provided Beatles covers for the film "Backbeat". For plays by Peel, see Film Soundtracks.)
Kim Gordon
(Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore)
Thurston, Kim & Epic
(Moore and Gordon with Epic Soundtracks (from Swell Maps).)
  • 09 May 1992: Sitting On A Barbed Wire Fence (CD - Outlaw Blues) Imaginary
  • 23 May 1992: Black Candy (v/a album - Fortune Cookie Prize]) Simple Machines
  • 24 May 1992 (BFBS): Sitting On A Barbed Wire Fence (CD - Outlaw Blues) Imaginary
Lee Ranaldo
  • 07 July 1987: The Resolution (12" - From Here To Eternity) Blast First
  • 12 November 1994: The Bridge (CD - East Jesus [Some Recordings 1981-1991] ) Blast First
Lucky Sperms
(Kim Gordon, Lee Ranaldo, Steve Shelley, with Mike Watt (Minutemen, etc))

See Also

External Links