1. Schizophrenia 4:38
2. (I Got A) Catholic Block 3:26
3. Beauty Lies In The Eye 2:19
4. Stereo Sanctity 3:50
5. Pipeline/Kill Time 4:35
6. Tuff Gnarl 3:14
7. Pacific Coast Highway 4:17
8. Hotwire My Heart 3:23
9. Kotton Krown 5:08
10. White Kross 2:58
11. Master-Dik [CD BONUS TRACK] 5:10


"Sister" was Sonic Youth's fifth album, and their second consecutive album with the same drummer performing on all tracks. Obviously, SY had found their groove w/ Steve behind the beats, and it's with those beats that "Sister" begins, kicking off with a little tune called "Schizophrenia" that's been a sonic staple since its composition. It's on this track that Thurston and Kim first trade verses, and that's just one of several sonic firsts on this LP (also including use of acoustic guitar for melodic purposes, use of a Moog synthesizer, and the return of Thurston on bass for the first time since "Confusion Is Sex"). This is also the only Sonic Youth album (well, until NYC Ghosts & Flowers, but that's another story) that didn't have a proper single release, though a video clip for "Beauty Lies In The Eye" was filmed.


Other than "White Kross", which had been around since at least May 1986, and possibly even earlier, most of "Sister" was probably written after the October/November '86 EVOL tour w/ fIREHOSE. It was recorded to 16-track during March and April 1987 at Sear Sound w/ Walter Sear, on an all-tube board that enhanced the guitars particularly well, but admittedly left a little to be desired in the drum department -- which, in my opinion, only adds to the album's charm. In addition to 9 originals, they recorded one cover, the 1976 Crime classic "Hot Wire My Heart". In April and May '87 they did a few mini-tours around New York, performing everything off the forthcoming record (a first!) and only a couple of songs from previous releases. The album was released in June (simultaneously on all formats) on SST in the US and Blast First in the UK (same as EVOL), at which point SY began their European tour, expanding the back repertoire a bit but primarily focusing on the new material (a pattern which SY have rarely strayed from). It was at a June 18th radio session in Geneva that a portion of the "Master-Dik" EP was recorded... "Master-Dik" is typically seen as a companion piece to "Sister" but it's more of a precursor to the Ciccone Youth "Whitey Album" (hell, Thurston even sings "We're Ciccone" on the title track). I'm not specifically sure when "Master-Dik" itself was recorded, but 2 mixes exist, one of which ended up as the bonus track on the Sister CD (the non-beatbox version), the other kicks off the "Master-Dik" EP w/ full-on beatbox action. They toured the US in September and October, this time adding four Ramones covers to their set, replacing the usual "Hotwire" or "Dog" encores. The October 14th Chicago, IL show was released officially as "Hold That Tiger". "Sister" was reissued on DGC in late 1994, featuring liner notes by Dennis Cooper.


Depending on how you look at it, "Sister" has 2 covers, neither a clear back/front, but the CD version does use the "XXX Cattle" shot for the front. Its original cover was immediately controversial -- a bright, almost out of place photograph of a girl by Richard Avedon in the upper left corner was removed after Avedon threatened to sue. Initially they just placed black stickers over the jacket art, and blacked it out completely on subsequent pressings. There was some record label paranoia regarding the potential threat of Disney suing over the shot of Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and Pluto at the Magic Kingdom, so it was spiralled out and UPC-ed over (the liners claim "cover photos from public domain jacked from sonic matrix"). The band is credited as "THE SONIC YOUTH" on one cover, and "SONIC-YOUTH" on the other. The vinyl sleeve features all of the lyrics (except "Hotwire") in a cut-up manner similar to EVOL's liners (only typewritten instead of handwritten), heavily xeroxed. The CD version comes with a 14-page booklet (excluding covers). The booklet's back cover shows a circular image of a young child. The pages utilize the same typewritten lyric sheets and PKD imagery, along with the various album credits/thanx over a background of crumpled xeroxed paper. The disc itself bears the "Sonic Life" cross. The DGC reissue intersperses the phony interview liner notes with the lyrics instead of dedicating spare white page for them like all of the other releases.


produced and directed by Sonic Youth
engineered by Bill Titus
MOOG programming by Walter Sear
crime decipher by byron coley

special thanks to terry pearson



yay verily: suzanne sasic (goddess of light) dan graham (rock my religion) mike watt (the softest hammer) j. mascis (dinosaur gtr) lydia l. (beauty line) amanda linn (sonic taxscape) carlos (heart) kem nunn (tapping the source) james ellroy (sgt lloyd hopkins) tom degesu (raymond carver) lyle hysen (drummer from hell) k.w. jeter (the glass hammer) p.k. dick (the owl in daylight) r. kern (evol II) vicki p. (and vixen) CODY
kitty magic/SOL-FUC
& j c mellencqamp (hamlets)



ADDITIONAL TRACK: MASTER DICK (the non-beatbox vers.)

SPECIAL THANX to the kids at SST, BLAST FIRST, and Ecstatic Peace.

All songs written by Sonic Youth and Published (c) 1987 Sonik Tooth (adm. by Zomba Songs Inc.) BMI except Hotwire My Heart by Johnny Strike (c) 1976 Crime Music BMI





"Thurston Moore?" Cubby drops a pencil's nub onto the stack of white paper in his lap.

"Yeah. And you're...?"

"Uh, my name's Cubby Branch." He starts doodling a skull. "Can I...interview you? Just for, like, a minute?" Doodle, doodle.

Thurston breathes out, an irritated sounding rattle made kind of supernatural by the cheapo speaker in Cubby's greasy receiver. "It'll have to be quick."

"God, thanks." Cubby clears his throat. He focuses on the almost imperceptible, eye deadening grain in the top sheet of the paper, so as not to let any rapport, good or bad, start with one of his four total idols, because... well, just because. "So I want to know why Sonic Youth does what it...does."


Cubby looks around his room until his eyes hit a mirror, him in it. His eyes are so burnt out and bloodshot they seem one dimensional, like peephole views of an American flag. Otherwise he's just him, i.e. stoned, too thin, fucked up hair, needy looking...Shit. He refocuses on the blurry pattern of ground up, processed, bleached wood in his lap, which neutralizes his thoughts a little. Cool...

"Meaning..." he says. "Uh, I don't know. To understand how you think, I guess."

Deep in the cave of the earpiece, Thurston...snickers?
"Like.. what was the difference between doing the, uh, Dirty album and doing the earlier stuff from, you know, way back in the, uh...eighties?"

"The eighties, huh?" Thurston sounds kind of...pissed which would sound really great on a record, but like, one on one, is a little nerve wracking obviously. "Well," he adds, "we're better at what we do now."

"Right. Of course. Duh." Cubby's transcribing wildly, not that he's actually going to print this in a magazine or anything. "And what do you think like me? How differently do you feel now from...the way you used to think of us? You know, before you got famous and everything?"

"You're the reason we happened, dude."

"Then you're glad we worship you? 'Cos we do. I'm in this phase of playing Sister all the time. Check this out." Cubby reaches over and cranks up his stereo. The song "Cotton Crown" happens to be playing. He holds the receiver into that spacey onslaught. "I'm wasted in time and you're never ready..." After a minute, he turns down the volume and slams the earpiece into his ear again. "See?"

"Yeah...thanks." Thurston emits this noise that's the auditory equivalent of a shrug.

"But uh...back to the worshipping question?" Cubby waits, listens, filling in blanks, etc. but it's taking Thurston for-fucking-ever to answer. "So," he continues tentatively, "you're saying, uh...ultimately...that you're not ...sure? Wait, wait. Give me a sec. I'm...writing this down...uh...okay, ready."

"Ultimately?" Thurston's back to sort of snickering again. "Sure. Worship away."

"Thanks, ha ha." Cubby's scribbling. "Does us being, uh...male or female make any difference to you?"

There's this weird lull.

" still there, Thurston?"

"Yeah. Is that a trick question?"

Cubby casts a little glance at his bedroom door. It's reassuringly shut. In the way, way distance, he can hear his girlfriend tidying herself in the bathroom. "Sort of."


Cubby quits writing and shakes his cramped hand a bit, worrying about that "hm."

"So, you're a male, I'm guessing," says Thurston.

"Yeah." Cubby snorts up some wobbly nose goo and swallows it.

"And you're how old?"

"Uh... thirteen."

"And... why do you want to know?" Thurston's mouth has started making this, like, impatient clicking sound.

"Cos...Shit. Don't, like, hate me but...your music gives me a boner, ha ha ha. Always. It's weird. Especially the, uh, Sister album and especially when you're singing. And especially, especially on... You know in "Schizophrenia" when you sing that line about, uh, "Her brother says she's just a bitch with a golden chain?" Well, when you sing that, I'm thinking, "Yeah, I am a bitch, Thurston." you know? And I guess I'm worried whether you think I'm weird for interpreting that that way. Does it freak you out to know there's a kid in the world who gets a boner from your music...but especiall from you? You know what I mean?"

"Gee," Thurston chuckles. In the earpiece there's this very faint ding dong. "Can you hold on, Cubby?" There's a clunk as Thurston's receiver's laid down on a table or something. While his idol's away, Cubby fills in blanks, crosses t's, etc. Out of decency, he tries not to take in what Thurston and some other voice are discussing, but it's a chore to tune out since every other word's something interesting like "Geffen Records" or "tour" or "video shoot."
"I have to cut this short," Thurston says suddenly. His voice is so loud and distorted that Cubby wrenches the receiver away from his ear for a second.

"Who's...there?" Cubby asks, wincing.

"A friend."

"Is he or she someone I might've heard of, ha ha ha?"

"Could be." Thurston's breaths have speeded up for some reason. Probably from, like, moving around or whatever. Duh. "You ever heard of Kim Gordon?" Thurston chuckles. "But seriously..." He has such a beautiful fucking surferish way of talking. Wow! There is a God. "I'm kind of busy at the moment."

"Kim Gordon!" Cubby punches himself in the head, albeit gently. "Tell her hi for me."

"Okay." Thurston clears his throat. "Hi from Cubby." Now, from deep in the phone, a very faint voice, obviously Kim's, says, "Hi, Cubby," in a, uh, sullen type way that could either sound totally sincere or bored to death depending on the level of the listener's paranoia, intelligence, etc. Such is her genius, thinks Cubby daydreamily. Then his ears catch the way spooky creaking floor sounds that undoubtedly signal his girlfriend's return. Sh-i-i-i-it.

"Shit, uh...I'm gonna go now Thurston, and uh, hopefully get another boner thanks to you, ha ha ha, and you can, uh, go fuck Kim or whatever you guys want to do." Cubby stares, horrified, at his bedroom door.

Creak, creak, creak...

"Later, Cubby."

"Yeah, uh... Thanks a billion, Thurston."


Dennis Cooper.


From FILTER magazine 2006 SY discography self-commentary:

"imagery zapping in from the philosophical minds of P.K. Dick, Sun Ra and Black Flag culminates with all that is sonic pop and holy. recorded and mixed on vacuum-tube equipment, this disc sealed our fate as neo-servants of the imperfect art. features "Beauty Lies In The Eye" and the magic wand that is "Cotton Crown". - TM"


imagery zapping in from the philosophical minds of P.K. Dick, Sun Ra and Black Flag culminates with all that is sonic pop and holy, recorded and mixed on vacuum-tube equipment, this disc sealed Sonic Youth's fate as neo-masters of the imperfect art. features "Beauty Lies In The Eye" and the magic wand that is "Cotton Crown." Liner notes by Dennis Cooper.

Thurston plays bass on "Beauty Lies In The Eye" and Steve contributes Moog synthesizer to the "Kill Time" section of "Pipeline".

Apparent working titles: Kitty Magic, Humpy Pumpy, and Sol-Fuc.

Several tracks on "Sister" are heavily influenced by the work of author Philip K. Dick, including several lines quoted verbatim, and the doodles in the liners.

Sonic Youth would record once again @ Sear Sound, 6 years later, for "Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star". The connection goes further than that -- if you turn up "Jet Set" loud enough, you can clearly hear "Sister" in its entirety buried underneath! See the Jet Set entry for more details.

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.


  • SISTER INTERVIEW DISC -- promotional disc featuring interview w/ Byron Coley about Sister.
  • MASTER-DIK -- 12" EP w/ alternate version of "Master-Dik", studio version of "Beat On The Brat", and a collection of interesting audio offerings........
  • SCREAMING FIELDS OF SONIC LOVE -- collection of SY's pre-DGC music videos, featuring video clip for "Beauty Lies In The Eye".
  • HOLD THAT TIGER -- official bootleg recorded live on American Sister tour on October 14th, 1987 in Chicago, IL.



    NOTES: original 12" release.
    NOTES: original 12" release.
    Au Go Go
    NOTES: in gatefold sleeve.
    Flying Nun
    NOTES: in gatefold sleeve.
    DiDi Records
    DIDI 111
    NOTES: Greek release, unsure of year
    Grabaciones Accidentales
    NOTES: Spanish release, unsure of year
    NOTES: Brazilian release
    NOTES: blast first/mute reissue.
    ORG Music
    NOTES: remastered 180g reissue on purple marble vinyl (also black).

    SST CD 134
    NOTES: first CD release, w/ non-beatbox master-dik as bonus track.
    NOTES: first CD release, w/ non-beatbox master-dik as bonus track.
    DGCD 24514
    NOTES: DGC reissue w/ liners by Dennis Cooper.
    GED 24514
    NOTES: DGC reissue w/ liners by Dennis Cooper. "Made in France"
    GED 24514 424 514-2
    NOTES: post-Universal reissue. "Made in the EC"

    SSTC 134
    NOTES: first cassette release, no master dik.
    NOTES: first cassette release, no master dik.
    DGCC 24514
    NOTES: DGC reissue cassette.


  • Scans of non-DGC CD booklet would be nice...
  • Also need scans of full cassette liner.
  • Please write me w/ anything that's missing!

  • original LP cover

    original LP back

    DGC cd booklet covers

    DGC cd booklet 1

    DGC cd booklet 2

    DGC cd booklet 3

    DGC cd booklet 4

    DGC cd booklet 5

    DGC cd booklet 6

    DGC cd booklet 7

    DGC cd back

    disc (DGC)

    original LP sleeve

    sst cassette cover

    sst cassette

    blast first cassette

    close up of mute cover alterations

    mute vinyl sleeve 1

    mute vinyl sleeve 2

    SST vinyl label side 1

    Richard Avedon letter

    SST CD back

    SST CD booklet 1

    SST CD booklet 2

    SST CD booklet 3

    SST CD booklet 4

    SST CD booklet 5

    SST CD booklet 6

    SST CD booklet 7

    SST CD booklet covers

    SST CD disc

    blast first CD cover/inside

    blast first CD back

    blast first CD booklet 1

    blast first CD booklet 2

    blast first CD booklet 3

    blast first CD booklet 4

    blast first CD booklet 5

    blast first CD booklet 6

    blast first CD booklet 7

    blast first CD disc

    purple marble vinyl

    cassette j-card

    cassette j-card

    dutch vinyl label

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

    master reel notes

    DGC cassette

    flying nun LP

    pirate cassette

    SST CD w/ avedon picture!