Friday, 18 February 2011

Thurston Moore on Swell Maps

Thurston Moore (Marty Perez "Sonic Youth '88")

In 1989, Mute Records put out in America “Collision Time Revisited”, a compilation CD of the very best of Swell Maps. As you'll read below, Thurston Moore had been meant to write sleeve notes for “Train Out Of It” (not...”here”.....) which came out three years earlier in 1986, but failed to meet the deadline. He got it together though in good time for this release. What he actually wrote was somewhat edited before it appeared (almost illegible) on the back cover of the CD. Here's Thurston's original typed notes with the deleted sections circled in pencil by Epic.





Left: Unused artwork for unreleased US Swell Maps LP.
Right: Poster for March 1980 London gig at the Moonlight.








And I've transcribed the text in full as it appeared in Thurston's original........

in the punk rock 70's of nyc the name swell maps made about as much sense to me as blood pudding (still have to figure that shit out). especially being i was 18 and fresh off the farm. i mean i fucked girls, saw heartbreakers gigs, played in a band, lived in cheapo squalor etc...i also bought all the groovy p-rock singles. at the time that was what you did and in the usa, uk singles were the hot prop. the more obscure/off/confused/and abstract the better (the first scritti politti and raincoats, the absurd label, first human league and cabaret voltaire, the normal, tg's “united”, etc). the first swell maps singles (i bought for no reason cept what th' fuck) was “let's buy a car” which still to this day gives me a soul scorched buzz'n'rush. as soon as the nikki sudden gtr comes slicing slabbing and all out fuzzifying off the crackling indie vinyl groove you know yr gonna rock. this was important to a dickweed like me cuz the sensibility of the nyc creeps i was pubing with was towards the no wave trip (and if you don't know about no wave nyc 78/79 then..well, don't worry about it) which i of course totally flagwaved. except the desire for post-dolls fuzzbox trash was not progging along with the rest of the “game”. at least thats what i was wondering about. anyway along comes this swell maps 45 and its the best of both whirls: fist in the heart guitar burnin' rock and ahead-of-its-time songsmith awareness. and the singers name was jowe head ferchrissake (still is). so fuck, it was amazing, but you know, i didn't go crazy looking for info on the band or maniacally seek out other records or anything. though i did buy their other singles. “read about seymour”, their first was the only other I really liked. never bought the lps tho i considered it. too much money on import. i mean at the time, to me, swell maps were a weird and foreign thing. its like they were lyrically/musically doing things only the fall might understand. i dont fucking know..i mean i get it now.
these liner notes were gonna be on the “train out of here” comp but i procrastinated and epic asked me to do 'em for this reissue. i haven't heard the swell maps lps in 5-6 years. the guy upstairs from me has 'em. i'll go listen to 'em now. you'll know what i think cuz i'm..............thurston moore sonic youth..........and the swell maps had a lot to do with my upbringing.
i wish i saw them. ^E
           nyc 1987

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