BF DGC
1. Intro 1:10 1:11
2. Brave Men Run (In My Family) 3:37 3:56
3. Society Is A Hole 5:57 4:51
4. I Love Her All The Time 7:28 8:21
5. Ghost Bitch 5:40 4:25
6. I'm Insane 4:07 6:55
7. Justice Is Might 4:21 2:56
8. Death Valley '69 5:10 5:22
9. Satan Is Boring [CD bonus track] 5:06  
10. Flower [CD bonus track] 3:33  
11. Halloween [CD bonus track] 5:00  
12. Echo Canyon [CD bonus track] 1:08  


"Bad Moon Rising" was Sonic Youth's third album, preceded by the "Death Valley '69" 7" single in 1984 which featured demo versions of both "Death Valley" and "Brave Men Run" from Bad Moon Rising. The original 12" release contained 8 songs, from the majestic opening notes of "Intro" to Lydia Lunch's furious howl that ends "Death Valley '69" -- all songs segue together except for the side break between "I Love Her All The Time" and "Ghost Bitch" (which is barely noticeable on the CD releases). Bad Moon Rising also marks SY's first music video (for "Death Valley", of course).

In 2015, the band reissued the original album in CD and vinyl format on its own Goofin' label.


Unlike 1983, Sonic Youth rarely performed in 1984, instead focusing on creating what would become "Bad Moon Rising". In fact, I only know of 7 gigs in '84 (which doesn't mean there weren't more), the first taking place in May and featuring the entire album in full, sans "Death Valley '69" ("Satan is Boring" was in its place at the time). Because they only had a handful of guitars at their disposal, and some songs required retuning, they filled the gaps onstage between songs by playing various cassettes thru a walkman into an amplifier, including "Not Right" by the Stooges (which actually made its way onto "Bad Moon Rising" between Society is a Hole and I Love Her All The Time), "Round and Round" by Ratt, and a number of others. The continuous soundscape format worked so well that they utilized it on the album as well. In July they recorded some demos w/ Wharton Tiers once again, releasing two on an Iridescence 7" - "Death Valley '69" and "Brave Men Run". Lydia Lunch, who co-wrote the lyrics for Death Valley, sings on this version as well as the LP version. Between September and December 1984, they recorded "Bad Moon Rising" at Before Christ studios on 24-track, w/ Martin Bisi engineering.

The album came out on vinyl and cassette in March 1985 on Homestead in the United States and Blast First in the UK, beginning SY's long relationship with Blast First. On the verge of its release, SY toured Europe once again (having played their first west coast US dates in January), performing the bulk of the album (though not in its "proper order" anymore), and new compositions such as "Flower" and "Halloween" (which were recorded while on the west coast) along with material from the first 3 EP/LPs. "Satan Is Boring", also recorded during the album sessions, was played live on occasion during this tour. It received official release on the Death Valley '69 12" (which featured the LP version of DV69, not the demo), which also contained one track from each of the previous releases. The January '85 recordings of "Flower" and "Halloween" from Radio Tokyo in Venice, CA were released on a 12" single towards the end of '85. Bob Bert plays on all of these recordings.

In late 1986, Blast First released "Bad Moon Rising" on CD, tacking on "Satan is Boring" and the "Flower"/"Halloween" single as bonus tracks, as well as the previously unreleased "Echo Canyon", essentially just a sample from a Pink Floyd song ("Keep Your Filthy Hands Off My Desert"). In 1995 the album was reissued on DGC, but the sequencing had been completely altered -- all the points where tracks had begun/ended on the Blast First CD (remember, they flow continuously -- however, the Blast First CD was sequenced to match up with the original groove changes on the vinyl) were changed, radically affecting the total lengths of some songs, few of these changes making sense (the end of Ghost Bitch now became the beginning of I'm Insane, etc). Also, Flower and Halloween's order were switched. Gerard Cosloy provided liner notes.


The album cover depicts a scarecrow with a flaming pumpkin head -- the perfect image to sum up the music. The back bears the track list (noting Death Valley '69 as "(With Lydia Lunch)", a black and white photograph of the band with the scarecrow looking a little happier w/out his head ablaze, topped off with a fine straw hat. A simple credit runs underneath the picture: "SONIC YOUTH: THURSTON MOORE/LEE RANALDO/KIM GORDON/BOB BERT". The album originally came w/ a 12x12 one-sided lyric sheet, with a faint print of the flaming pumpkin in the background. The album was released alongside EVOL in a silver bag containing an EVOL era poster in Australia on the AuGoGo label. The Blast First CD has the same cover, but with +FLOWER - HALLOWEEN - SATAN IS BORING - ECHO CANYON printed along the bottom (this is the only mention of "Echo Canyon" on the artwork). One spine reads "SONIC-YOUTH 1985", the other reads "SONIC YOUTH: BAD MOON RISING, SATAN, FLOWER, HALLOWE'EN". The back of the CD has a purple-splotched photo of the band all wearing sunglasses next to the track list (again, Death Valley is noted as "(w. Lydia Lunch)", and Echo Canyon is not listed). The CD booklet is 14 pages excluding the covers (the back cover of the booklet is a shot of the band peeking out from behind leaves and trees w/ "SONIC YOUTH HALLOWEEN" written underneath). The booklet contains lyrics for all songs but "Halloween", guitar tuning notes, amp settings, credits, xeroxed stickers, pictures of the band (including one with Steve?), reproductions of trashy pulp novels whose summaries provided lyrical inspiration for "I'm Insane", and a colour reproduction of the calendar image from the "Flower" 12". The CD itself features a Savage Pencil image. The DGC reissue featured roughly the same art, with darker colours on the back and additional pages in the booklet, including the 2-page liner notes and full-page versions of the pictures from the back cover + the tree/leaves "Halloween" pic. Legal issues required a change to the "WONDER" bread truck on the "Society is a Hole" page -- the DGC edition now reads "BOREDOM".



all songs* recorded and mixed at BEFORE CHRIST STUDIOS,
Brooklyn, N.Y.C. between Sept and Dec. 1984.
engineer: Martin Bisi
produced by Sonic Youth with Martin Bisi and John Erskine

*except: Flower and Halloween rec./mix at Radio Tokyo,
Venice, California. January 1985. engineer: Ethan James
produced by Sonic Youth

SONIC YOUTH = Lee Ranaldo, Kim Gordon, Bob Bert, Thurston Moore

all words + music - S.Y./Savage Conquest/Expressway to Yr. Skull

Thanks to Catherine + Nicholas Ceresole, Thom DeGesu, Althea + C.Wayne Gordon, Paul Smith, Gerard Cosloy, Pat + Liz, ?Michael Sheppard?, Richards Boon + Kern, Lydia, Jim, Carlos in Holland, Stuart in L.A., Madonna, the Mary Chain, Wharton, Amanda, Cody, everyone. Don Walker at tape one, U.K. for sequence and editing help.

Photos here are by Jim Welling, Naomi Petersen, Carlos Van Hijfte, Amanda Linn, Mrs. Moore, Jeff Cantor and the band.


NYC summer of '84...Billy Psycho is shot in the kneecaps. Ed Koch and Keith Hernandez split up 'cause it looks bad for their careers. Bruiser Brody got stabbed. Rev. Sharpton has plenty of extra "Victory Tour" tickets, real sheap. The second Tommy Dog single is in the shops, though not Some Records, which hasn't opened yet. No Gap on St. Marks, Times Sq.-as indoor-mall is still 10 years away. But why bother setting the "scene," when Sonic Youth's connection to it just sells them short? How many fucking times did the words "lower-east-side" figure prominent in someone's confused review? ...tight and more precise than Chinatown-TriBeCa-Hoboken for sure, but slow-thinkers were awfully quick to box Sonic Youth into a ghetto so small its zip code was stolen.

Conscious or not, Bad Moon Rising, and its preceding single "Death Valley '69" (w/ Lydia Lunch) were grand gestures, you had to admit it, even if you were busy watching the gate at the rock/art internment camp (or the Village Voice, whatever.) For all the prior bullshit about SY reflecting the claustrophobia of NY (I always thought this applied to Keith Streng), Bad Moon was WIDE OPEN and MASSIVE like the kinda southwestern canyon I can only imagine (and end up settling for a Long Island landfill instead.)

The autumn of '84 featured some incredible Sonic Youth shows in NYC that hardly anyone saw (this wasn't so unusual prior to the release of Bad Moon)...I remember a scorching 15-minute set at the Pyramid that ended with the plug being pulled (and the Lady Bunny punching Bob Bert in the eye.) I got into a big argument with Timmy "Noise The Show" Sommer on the walk home 'cause he thought I said "kill the fucking homos" when in fact I told him to blow his nose. (Years later, Tim would have an almost identical exchange with Michael Bolton prior to a VH-1 on-air interview, too bad he never got those ears checked out.) Thanksgiving at Maxwell's in front of 15 people, everything was going swell until Thurston decided to reenact the entire first side of Black Flag's "Family Man."

Bad Moon made its initial splash in the UK, where Richard Thompson lookalike Paul Smith had released it on his new Blast First imprint. The album was original scheduled to come out on Cabaret Voltaire's Colecovision label, but the company went bust during the whole video game crash of '84. US release came shortly thereafter on the poorly financed, barely distributed Homestead label, an operation whose previous achievements included releasing early titles by Thor and Virgin Steele (years later I remember reading that the bass player for this band was a member of the Buttafuoco clan, but maybe that was another Virgin Steele.) Homestead continued to manufacture and sell thousands of copies of Bad Moon Rising after the contract expired and invested their profits in exciting titles like Best Of the Batcave - The Peel Session.

The original 7" of "Death Valley '69" was released by Iridescence Records, a Los Angeles-based independent run by Michael Sheppard. Sheppard, a shadowy figure best known for his hand in releasing seminal titles by Half Japanese, Christmas and Gary Klail, at one time had his master tapes reposessed by his angry manufacturer, Tabb Rex. Tabb flooded the universe with untold thousands of copies of the "Death Valley" 7" and to this day it is estimated that this single has outsold the rest of the Sonic Youth catalog combined.

After Bad Moon came out in the States, the reaction was OK, but it still took several months to sell a few thousand copies. You've gotta remember this was before every independent band had a CD, video on "120 Minutes," etc. Not only did CMJ fail to put the record on the cover, but they never even reviewed it. Some folks were having a hard time getting used to the fact that Let's Active and the Long Ryders weren't such a big deal.

An S. Swezey organized gig in the Mojave Desert w/ the Meat Puppets was the long-awaited West Coast debut, too bad the buses ran out of gas and the audience members were eaten by coyotes. (Subsequent gig w/ Swans in a furniture warehouse ended in similar tragedy when the audience was devoured by giant termites.)

A dopey writer from the Voice asked the band if they thought there was any special perspective in the songwriter dept. "cause y'know, husband & wife, that sort of thing. Like X," she said. "The only X we have anything to do with is the one on Henry Rollins' forehead." ...fuck, I can't remember if Kim or Thurston said that or the writer just made it up, but somebody ought to carve it in the matrix of a bootleg sometime.

My favorite memory of this whole mess was when SY's zillionaire Swiss friends Nicholas and Catherine threw a fit when their names were mispelled on the sleeve. These two were art-loving benefactors who aside from throwing cash at SY, Live Skull, Rat At Rat R, Christian Marclay, Virgin Steele, etc., were also once the publishers (i.e. the $$$) behind Thurston's "Killer." Anyway, this dynamic duo didn't take too kindly to having their names fucked up on the record cover (this was Paul Smith's fault, by the way) and began to scream and holler about wanting their oodles of loot back virtually the same day the record came out. Best part was when Catherine said they "could've bought a boat" instead of lending SY the money. I don't know what kind of boat she meant, maybe a canoe.

There's not much else I can remember 'cept that for me, Sonic Youth's role as loudmouths/fans made almost as big an impact on me as their own music. If it weren't for Sonic Youth, I'd never have heard of the Swans, Live Skull, Rat At Rat R, Bag People, Don King, Richard Kern or countless others. At least not until they were already broken up or had already done their best work. Then again, if it weren't for "NY Rocker," I never would've heard of Sonic Youth, and I'm not thanking the Bongos for anything, at least not today.

Nostalgia really sucks, but Pacer do a really good version of "I Love Her All The Time."

Gerard Cosloy
NYC, Nov. '93


From FILTER magazine 2006 SY discography self-commentary:

"1984--made just before Steve joined--we were touring widely in the USA and some in Europe, and were coming to see what it meant to be an American band--and also studying the junction where hippie idealism met the cold hard world--where Woodstock met Altamont--Death Valley, Charles Manson, Brian Wilson, musicians, murderers, heros and villains. [LR]"


broad strokes of mesa-sound and stoogian aethos. this recording begins the trans-global sonic life(style). as if don cherry collected misfits. features "Death Valley '69" with love's tormentrix Lydia Lunch -- the first HIT. cover photo by James Welling. liner notes by Gerard Cosloy.

Sonic Youth are credited as "SONIC-YOUTH" on this release, which also appeared on "Sonic Death" "Confusion Is Sex" & "Sister" (as well as several early posters, the Noisefest '81 press release, etc).

A looped sample of Lou Reed's "Metal Machine Music" helps segue between "Brave Men Run" and "Society Is A Hole" (and continues throughout the latter song).

Supposedly the band wanted various photographs including those of a young long-haired Lee emerging from a van and Bob Bert smoking w/ friends on the back cover but Blast First objected (they did appear in the CD booklet).

Original Blast First CD had pressing error - it had 11 tracks instead of 12 and "Flower" was on the negative lead-in time on track 10, "Halloween". The various CD pressings all seem to differ slightly -- do some not feature "Echo Canyon"?

List of early working titles for the album includes "Expressway To Your Skull" "The Hairy Eyeball" "Hairball" "Nailed" "Mind Bomb" "Mind Bind" "They Came From Without" "Bad Moon Rise" "They Came From Outer Space" "Before Christ" "Bed Rockin'" "Rock Around The Block" "East Jesus" "Nose Dive" & "Torture Chamber".

  • Blast First/Homestead/AuGoGo vinyl etchings:
    • Side 1: "It's a Bird in The Hand, It's a Modern Land -- Sonics Rendesvouz"
    • Side 2: "Prepare For The Worst, Hope For The Best"
    In addition to the arbitrary resequencing, the DGC CD reissue also features some bizarre mastering defects that were not present on the original release -- the vocals throughout the album contain a strange 'flutter', particularly noticeable on extended syllables like on "I Love Her All The Time" or Lydia's vocal in "Death Valley". Very strange indeed, and these same versions are used on "Screaming Fields of Sonic Love" as well as the iTunes downloads of this album, so it seems to be a permanent issue, unfortunately. I strongly suggest you seek out the Blast First CD.

    Possible that first pressing of Homestead vinyl featured grey labels, subsequent '87 era Homestead vinyl has red labels.

    For more information on songs (including lyrics, who played what, when the songs were first and last performed, and other trivia), please visit the Song Database.


  • DEATH VALLEY '69 7" -- 7" single released prior to "Bad Moon" w/ demos of Death Valley and Brave Men Run.
  • DEATH VALLEY '69 12" -- 12" single from the album, featuring non-LP "Satan is Boring" and 3 songs from each previous release.
  • FLOWER/HALLOWEEN 12" -- 12" single, later appeared as bonus tracks on CD Bad Moon.
  • WALLS HAVE EARS -- semi-official 2x12" bootleg recorded at several 1985 shows (one disc w/ Bert, one disc w/ Shelley).
  • SCREAMING FIELDS OF SONIC LOVE -- compilation of pre-DGC music videos, features "Death Valley '69".
  • GILA MONSTER JAMBOREE -- official video released thru Sonic Death, filmed live in January '85 @ SY's first west coast show (see ticket stub in CD booklet). Features most of "Bad Moon".
  • LIVE AT STACHE'S -- official live video filmed in August '85 shortly after Steve joined the band, features 3 songs from Bad Moon.



    NOTES: original 12" release. one-sided inner sleeve w/ lyrics.
    NOTES: original 12" release. blast first/homestead both appear on label
    Rough Trade
    NOTES: comes w/ obi strip, lyrics in japanese/english, and japanese bio.
    Blast First/DiDi
    NOTES: greece 12". manufactured by rough trade.
    NOTES: sometimes sold packaged w/ EVOL in silver bag w poster.
    NOTES: blast first/mute(/homestead) vinyl reissue. plain inner sleeve.
    ORG Music
    NOTES: remastered 180g reissue on orange vinyl (also black).
    NOTES: LP reissue w/ download code for CD bonus tracks

    Blast First
    NOTES: first release on CD, w/ 4 bonus tracks (and flower error)
    Blast First/Mute
    NOTES: rerelease of CD, fixes "flower" error.
    NOTES: DGC reissue w/ alternate track times. Liners by Gerard Cosloy.
    NOTES: Geffen reissue w/ alternate track times. Liners by Gerard Cosloy.
    MVCG 21014
    GED 24512 424 512-2
    NOTES: post-Universal reissue
    NOTES: CD reissue

    NOTES: original cassette release.
    NOTES: original cassette release.
    NOTES: DGC reissue. Liner notes by Gerard Cosloy.


  • Are the etchings not on Homestead version?
  • Any CD versions w/out "Echo Canyon"?
  • Scans of the cassette versions + vinyl insert would be appreciated.
  • Please write me w/ anything that's missing!

  • vinyl back cover

    blast first cd booklet covers

    BF cd back

    BF cd booklet 1

    BF cd booklet 2

    BF cd booklet 3

    BF cd booklet 4

    BF cd booklet 5

    BF cd booklet 6

    BF cd booklet 7

    disc (blast first)

    last pages of DGC CD booklet

    liner notes in DGC CD booklet

    DGC disc

    back (DGC reissue)

    vinyl label side 1

    vinyl label side 2

    w/ EVOL in bag (AuGoGo)

    contents of bag (AuGoGo)

    vinyl back (AuGoGo)

    cassette j-card [homestead]

    cassette side 1

    cassette side 2

    vinyl insert/sleeve [homestead]

    side 1 [homestead]

    side 2 [homestead]

    wonder/boredom CD variations

    original master tape w/ lee's notes circa DGC reissue

    homestead LP w/ grey labels