Of all the Sonic Youth albums reissued so far, none had the impact of Daydream Nation. Made during a period of intense creativity for the band, the album wound up being listed among Rolling Stone's Top 100 albums of all-time, and for good reason.
An arty, post-punk masterpiece that balanced tension, apocalyptic atmospheres, bruised beauty and the noisy, deconstructed guitar warfare of Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo, Daydream Nation is a touchstone for '90s and contemporary indie-rock.
Many view it as a transition from the band's abrasive, experimental, early recordings into more melodic territory. Drummer Steve Shelley, who talked to Goldmine recently about the Geffen's reissue of Daydream Nation, isn't so sure. He sees it as a part of the evolution that occurred between EVOL, Sister and the band's epochal moment.
"I don't see it that way," says Shelley. "To me, they're all a bit closer than I think they are to fans or listeners because to me they're these groups of songs that we worked on before or after the previous ... or the later songs, so to me, musically they all relate to each other. Goo is actually much closer to Daydream Nation in my mind than it may be to lots of other people. As a group and as individuals, we were all just learning each step of the way, and when I went to work on Goo, with the group, I was using things I'd learned with the band while doing Daydream."
Included in the reissue — which includes a second disc of live recordings of Daydream Nation tracks — is the band's version of The Beatles' classic "Within You, Without You." The band's cover of the song, which The Beatles recorded for Sgt. Pepper, is a wild, noisy reworking.
"It was a charity event for the [New Music Express], and they were covering the whole Sgt. Pepper record with different artists," says Shelley. "It was from a compilation called Sgt. Pepper Knew My Father. We thought, if we're going to play a song from Sgt. Pepper, we're the band for 'Within You, Without You.' I guess it was just sort of obvious. I can't see us doing 'A Day In The Life,' as much as I love it. I don't know ... it's hard for me to imagine anyone but John and Paul doing that song."