THE WHITEY ALBUM
   
TRACK LIST:

1. Needle-Gun 2:28
2. (silence) 1:03
3. G-Force 3:39
4. Platoon II 4:19
5. MacBeth 5:27
6. Me & Jill/Hendrix Cosby 5:31
7. Burnin' Up 3:51
--
8. Hi! Everybody 0:58
9. Children Of Satan/Third Fig 3:06
10. Two Cool Rock Chicks Listening To Neu 2:56
11. Addicted To Love 3:46
12. Moby-Dik 1:01
13. March Of The Ciccone Robots 1:56
14. Making The Nature Scene 3:15
15. Tuff Titty Rap 0:39
16. Into The Groovey 4:36
 
17. MacBeth (Steve's Funky Dub) [CD BONUS TRACK] 5:15
 

NOTES

Sonic Youth's seventh album sort of originated with a long-running band joke involving SY's claim to one day cover the Beatles' White Album in its entirety -- somehow this project morphed into a twisted beatbox/sampler experiment masquerading as a tribute to Madonna... SY even took Madonna's surname for their own, calling themselves "Ciccone Youth". The first Ciccone Youth single, featuring SY's version of "Into The Groovey" and Mike Watt's cover of "Burnin' Up" was initially released in 1986. Ciccone Youth unveiled themselves again on the "Master-Dik" EP, and decided to round out an entire album in late '87/early '88. Supposedly the finished project was put on hold until after the release of Daydream Nation, to ensure that attention wouldn't be diverted from the more "serious" album effort. In any case, "The Whitey Album" is a weird, wild, hit-or-miss collection of sampled beats, fresh rhymes, 80s pop covers, and a few really good tunes.

The album was reissued twice, initially in 1995 and again in 2006.

HISTORY

Their Madonna obsession already apparent in gig posters and song titles, SY recorded their own version of her single "Into The Groove" along with a brief but amusing Thurston freestyle vocal jam called "Tuff Titty Rap" during the EVOL sessions in March 1986. The songs were recorded for a proposed Madonna "tribute" 7" to be released on New Alliance, the A-side featuring Mike Watt's rendition of "Burnin' Up" (a full band version, not the solo demo that ended up on the Whitey Album). This single came out in late '86 under the alias "Ciccone Youth", and both artists went on their merry way. Ciccone emerged again during sessions for a piece entitled "Master-Dik", of which 2 versions were mixed -- one w/ live drums which was the bonus track on the Sister CD, and one w/ a robotic beatbox track, released on the "Master-Dik" EP (though not technically credited to Ciccone Youth, Thurston's insistent cries of "We're Ciccone" seem pretty clear). Toying with drum machines and samplers must have delighted the band enough to make an album project out of it, and so they did, recording from November 1987 through January 1988 with Wharton Tiers at his studio.

Dinosaur guitarist J Mascis stepped in to guest on one track, "Two Cool Rock Chicks Listening To Neu" (which also featured Kim discussing management duties with Susanne Sasic, SY's lighting director). They recorded a few fairly tuneless destructive beatbox explosions like "Needle-Gun" "Hendrix Cosby" & "March Of The Ciccone Robots", some nicely constructed instrumental jams like "MacBeth" and "Third Fig", a revamped drum machine driven version of "Making The Nature Scene" from Confusion Is Sex, and more. Steve reads one of Lee's poems. Kim sings a haunting tune called "G-Force", which is reprised instrumentally as "Platoon II". She also sings Robert Palmer's hit "Addicted To Love", recorded at a karaoke booth in a mall (a video was produced in the same fashion). And for your easy listening pleasure, a solid minute of silence is offered (their radio edit of John Cage's "4'33"). The album is rounded out with the 3 tracks from the '86 Ciccone single (though Watt's "Burnin' Up" is an alternate solo demo). "The Whitey Album" finally saw release in January 1989, several months after Daydream Nation. "Sonic Youth" were not credited on the release, instead each member was given a secret Ciccone codename (a hilarious NME gag "interview" gives these identities a life of their own). Around this time an "Into The Groovey" single/sampler CD was released, along with a 12" promo insightfully titled "The Whitey Album Promo". The Whitey Album CD was reissued by DGC in 1995 w/ liner notes by Mike Watt. The CD versions feature an unlisted bonus version of "MacBeth", subtitled "Steve's Funky Dub" on a sticker on the longbox packaging.

PACKAGING

The cover features, naturally, a close-up of Ms. Ciccone's face. The back is a nod to the Beatles' White Album, which in a way spurred this entire project. The vinyl sleeve features the track list w/ albums credits over a giant red shoeprint. The CD version has the same covers, but the insert is a 6-page, double-sided fold out, with the shoeprint/album info (and liner notes, for the DGC version) on one side, and various images (including one of J. Mascis and the same jeweled bust pic from the vinyl sleeve). The disc simply reads "Ciccone Youth The Whitey Album", and "PRODUCED AND DIRECTED BY CICCONE YOUTH".

CREDITS/LINERS

Produced and Directed by Ciccone Youth:
          The Royal Tuff Titty
          ss beat control
          The Sigh
          Fly Fly Away

Recorded and Mixed Nov. 1987 - Jan. 1988 at Wharton's Palace of confusion, NYC.
Engineer: Wharton Tiers himself

except: INTO THE GROOVEY rec/mix at Before Christ, Brooklyn, March 1986
engineer: Martin Bisi
BURNIN' UP as done by Mike Watt in San Pedro, California, May 1986
(the original demo on 4-track cassette)

additional:
J Mascis, guitar
Suzanne Sasic, red head
on TWO COOL ROCK CHICKS LISTENING TO NEU

DMM Mastering at Masterdisk, NYC, by Howie Weinberg.

xerox: Todd's Copy Shop, NYC

thanks to dick for the dynamite.

All songs by Ciccone Youth (Sonik Tooth (adm. by Zomba songs, Inc.) BMI) except * [Burnin' Up] by Madonna (WB Music Corp./Bleu Disque Music Co., Inc./Webo Girl Publishing, Inc. ASCAP) + [Addicted To Love] by Robert Palmer (Bungalow Music N.V. adm. by PolyGram International Publishing, Inc. ASCAP) # [Into The Groovey] by Madonna/Bray Inc./Webo Girl Publishing, Inc./PolyGram International Publishing, Inc. ASCAP)

LINER NOTES

...years later, I find myself writing this as I finish a four hour shift behind the wheel of the van, coming back to my town (San Pedro, CA) having completed yet another hell-ride. The eleven-hundred-mile Denver to Pedro drive is still better than the twenty-three-hundred-mile Pedro to Miami but I guess you could say maybe "relatively" better. Coming home tops sallying forth almost always. All told, we did over thirty thousand miles this time. Even though it was my twenty-second tour, it was for me a strange tour, the way it divided itself into two parts: first totally under the weight of my own endeavor and then finding myself at the whim of others, respected yet in fact a pull-toy. Now please know these circumstances came by my own choice, mind you. In no way am I trying to paint myself as a victim. A life is made up of many days: the sun rises and the sun sets, either with you or without you. This duality of the tour however, brought out strange similiarities in my experiences regarding this piece of work in which I'm about to relate to you.

The first part of the tour, the period when I held sway, worked like this: seventy gigs in seventy-three days planned by me in my little pad here in Pedro. I designed a tour that would take us through and have us play every state in the Union except Alaska and Hawaii (the lack of interstate making those really tough drives) plus three Canadian providences. Fifty-one of the gigs were in a row: over seven weeks without a day off. I planned this tour for months. All my previous tours had prepared me and I had no lack of vision for the feat. When it came time to execute the plan, I then grew scared and fearful but was hurled ever on the momentum of my will, in which, with discipline, I had conquered hesitation. The gigs came and came. I did likewise: against the current, with it, down the rapids, over the falls, into the slough and stuffed in the mud. Dealing with what got dealt me, defining my shortages, exploring my hunches; me measuring my distance between both my points of reference and points of position. I forcing myself from thinking these towns I pass through are gas stops for my tour. I am the layer of peel that forms around their life in order for me to breathe deeply. I kind of do a version of the trance I have to work myself into in order to do gigs: the measurer who is too close to the thing he is trying to measure to do it accurately. Trading accuracy for a stab at meaning. Using the human drama to talk about units of measurement as if there could be a justice unto them, empirical crucifixes hung with the double whammy of both beyond and within.

That's what I call my gasoline, Watt-grade kerosene with all kinds of crap floating in it - I never go below a 1/4 tank because the motor might start sounding like it's sucking shit through a soda straw and that's when you know real is about as real as it wants to be and not the other way around, dig? We don't make the law, we just give names to the big foist that seems to involve us somehow and in some way. Now, if you can get someone to agree with you then you must have a reason which is outside your reach, more of a stepladder for someone who you would claim is "much less involved" but none the less coincidentally planted firmly in the center of your "discovered" universe. To move through the ocean by swimming in it? What else is there? I could sweat the pier bobs as I stand on my fast and sturdy deck. I guide my boat using stars that swim themselves, it's only natural. What is weird is me fucking my machine to get paid, that is mystery.

The second part of the tour had little of my doing. I was doing some of the same towns but this time I was the confused actor. Trying hard to assert whatever I had gathered in my fist, I decided to violate myself and fuck with my own image. Proud fool was I as off came the flannel and Levi and back on went the cheap new wave suits I bought the day before stage two began. White shirt underneath strung up with a skinny tie bound by safety pins, I played my trump on my left sleeve. An armband celebrating one of my favourite group of artists: the Germs. So, into the summer heat I suffered that goddamn outfit until I played it up to such a frenzy that by the time of that last gig, I was unable to have my beard (tour beard, I don't shave when I'm on tour), take all my clothes off onstage, put on my flannel and Levi (after a month of going without!) and feel all right about it. So much for self-induced hysteria.

I think I bounce off people. Man, it's weird how I will stumble into someone and internally debate if I'm nothing without them. It's like I just happened to meet the dude with all the keys to my pad, my safe, my van, my mota and of course I will have a great "change" in my life by being seemingly transformed by the act of making my "muse and mentor" an accessory to my prized collection of tribute and irony. The guy from navy housing grows up to be the guy who grew up in navy housing! You got to shovel shit before you can bag and sell it! Soak some rags in alcohol and tie them around your ankles so you'll keep the ants off your candy ass! The ridiculous things that will come out of my mouth and for why? I don't know, all I can say is that I can detect some similiarities and I can detect some differences. Let me waste not another word now and discuss this piece of work.

Truth be it known, I have only one tune here. OK, I'll back up and explain things a little. Kira was the first person who turned me on to Madonna maybe in the spring of 1985. She was playing bass for Black Flag and the guys in the band wanted her to dress up since she was confused for a boy in previous tours. This tour, the "Loose Nut" tour, would be special. Well, it happens that the Minutemen did a week in the Southwest with Black Flag that May and I learned about Madonna. Kira was putting herself through UCLA while she was in the band and I respected her very much. The symbols that were going down were so intense and new to me, I succumbed. The spaceman had invented his tether without knowing such things are discovered and not invented. Anyway, as Kierkegaard said "Faith is like a telescope, turned upside down" and so I went about "understanding" my universe in terms that were more like food words or something. Someone said something bout "role model" and Kira laughed, like shit now days could be that fucking simple or stupid. How about a fist in the air, lawgiver?

However, death is not mocked and my big man D. Boon was killed December 11, 1985 in a van crash. I was tiny and stopped wrestling my bass, wouldn't touch it. Kira had to do some internship at Yale so I drove her to Connecticut. I stopped in NYC and stayed with Thurston and Kim for a week. Staying up late laying on the couch with a blanket on just talking and talking. Talking about everything, even silly band names out of Flipside like Sarcastic Orgasm. I must have drove them crazy. But it really helped me get over that hell of D. Boon Dying, I really owe them all I've done since the Minutemen. They were recording EVOL for SST Records and made me play bass on it. The first bass I played since D. Boon getting killed. They were great people, Lee and Steve, too. One night after recording, me and Thurston got to talking about the best bosses and stuff like that and I said: "hell, I want to laugh again" and Thurst said "let's do it like a band and make a record!" Then I told him damn right I was going to do it like a band. I was very intense and fired up. I wailed on it at my pad and made a four track of what I wanted to do in the studio. I sent this to Thurston. What I had done was taken my background in Blue Oyster Cult and married (well, to my sensibilities) to the only voice of the 80's that could challenge the Animal House/White House hip smugness of them days. Like Humphrey Bogart or something, I couldn't really understand it but I did know that I was alive and feeling like it. We went on to release a seven-inch with me doing "Burnin' Up" on one side and them guys doing "Tuff Titty Rap" and "Into The Groovey" on the other. This came out on New Alliance Records and is the first Ciccone Youth record. It was later released in England as a twelve-inch single on Paul Smith's Blast First Records. But you know, Thurston always did like that demo I made him. It would be that little passion bundle (in the form of a tape) that would make it to the "White Record." I went on to meet Edward (well, he just showed up at my house) and put together fIREHOSE with him and George Hurley. I had once again gotten caught up in the sound of my own engine and dove right in where the rubber meets the road.

Meanwhile, from what people tell me, The Whitey Album was recorded. I can tell you no more about what went down than I can tell you about today's special relationship between television audiences and television performers (i.e. today's scene)! I served no other purpose except for the obvious inspiration one can give when on they are so enamored yet driven. My song, although authentic, is sort of like that second part of this last tour. I can not know where I have not been. I can guess but is there not some greater glory? My "Burnin' Up" riding that big tsunami on the back of the big surfboard. Sonic in the name of Ciccone, the Mother of All Bosses! Does one who sails a boat have the right to know where the winds come from? Better yet, does it matter? Maybe that wind started out as a breath, a gasp for life! The gift of going down swinging, swinging for the fence - fanning up a gust so heavy that even those people in NYC might get blown? Shit, hitting the ball would only slow my bat down, keep me in that box all dressed in some other man's clothes, some uniform. No dream talk to describe the terrors of the gaps and comedies of the connects all balled up in a punk chorus of "What We Do Is Secret." What we do is not secret anymore.

I have great respect for the guitarist on "Two Rock Chicks" (J Mascis). I accidentally spit food all over him as I praise him but still keep my fist in the fair in a non-fascist salute. It is the Sonic Youths themselves who are this record, I have tried to relate my part in both fact and theory. If I know anything, then for sure time is here to keep events linear and parallel simultaneously. I am proud to have served with this unit. Back then, I put a picture of Madonna on my bass because I thought it looked much better there than in an issue of Spin or Rolling Stone. Punk went good with Madonna. I wanted to make her look special and important, someone or something you had to deal with and maybe decide who you are. You know, return the favor. Maybe one day someone might say: "Watt looked up to Madonna because he did." Maybe I'll feel peace for the briefest of moments. This is a good record but it's also kind of scary...

                     Mike Watt, 1993

ADDITIONAL NOTES

From FILTER magazine 2006 SY discography self-commentary:

"recorded psuedonymously as Ciccone Youth- an lp/concept co-designed withMike Watt (Minutemen, Dos, fIREHOSE) as a hardcore/beatbox experimentwith lo-fi studio gear, improv and frolic. Features "Two Cool RockChicks Listening To Neu", "Macbeth", "Addicted To Love" and massiveeuro-dance hit "Into The Groove(y)". - TM"

SCREAMING FIELDS OF SONIC LOVE liner notes:

19??
THE WHITEY ALBUM
recorded pseudonymously as Ciccone Youth- an lp/concept co-designed with Mike Watt (Minutemen, Dos, fIREHOSE) as a hardcore/beatbox experiment with lo-fi studio gear, improv and frolic. Features "Two Cool Rock Chicks Listening To Neu," "MacBeth," "Addicted To Love" and massive euro-dance hit "Into The Groove(y)." liner notes by Mike Watt.

Ciccone Youth are:

  • The Royal Tuff Titty (thurston)
  • SS Beat Control (steve)
  • The Sigh (lee)
  • Fly Fly Away (kim)
  • ...with Mike Watt (mike)
Quote from Rob Vaughn's discography: "There are some copies of the Whitey Album with red covers. It was pressed by the printers by mistake - they used the red negative that was for the insert for the Rapeman LP (which was being done at the same time) [Australian version; the US version is blue.] We had to send 'em back but I kept about 25. The band got most of these when they first came over [in 1990]."

There was one more "Whitey" outtake: **** from the "Nothing Short of Total War" compilation.

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.

RELATED RELEASES

  • INTO THE GROOVEY -- 7"/12" single released in 1986. CD single for "Groovey" released @ same time as Whitey.
  • THE WHITEY ALBUM PROMO -- promo 12" featuring 4 cuts from the whitey album.
  • SCREAMING FIELDS OF SONIC LOVE -- collection of SY's pre-DGC videos, including "Addicted to Love" and "MacBeth".

    RELEASE INFO

    VINYL

    RELEASE DATE
    ORIGIN
    LABEL
    CATALOG #
    01/89
    US
    Enigma
    7 75402
    NOTES: original 12" release.
    01/18/89
    UK
    BLAST FIRST
    BFFP28
    NOTES: original 12" release.
    01/89?
    OZ
    AuGoGo
    ANDA91
    NOTES: ...
    01/89
    Netherlands
    Torso
    33059
    NOTES: ...
    01/89?
    Greece
    DIDI/Blast First
    DIDI 130
    NOTES: ...
    ?
    UK
    MUTE
    BFFP28
    NOTES: blast first/mute vinyl reissue. CD reissued too?
    2006
    US
    Goofin'
    GOO 09
    NOTES: 12" 2006 reissue via SLR - does this contain bonus macbeth??
     
    CD

    RELEASE DATE
    ORIGIN
    LABEL
    CATALOG #
    01/89
    US
    Enigma
    7 75402
    NOTES: original CD release. w/ unlisted bonus version of "macbeth".
    01/89
    UK
    BLAST FIRST
    BFFP28CD
    NOTES: original CD release. w/ unlisted bonus version of "macbeth".
    01/89
    Germany
    Torso
    Torso CD 059
    NOTES: german CD?
    01/31/95
    USA
    DGC
    DGCD-24516
    NOTES: DGC reissue on CD w/ liner notes by Mike Watt. bonus macbeth included.
    03/14/06
    US
    Geffen
    ?
    NOTES: 2006 reissue/remaster w/ bonus macbeth
     
    CASSETTE

    RELEASE DATE
    ORIGIN
    LABEL
    CATALOG #
    01/89
    US
    Enigma
    7 75402
    NOTES: original cassette release.
    01/89
    UK
    BLAST FIRST
    BFFP28
    NOTES: original cassette release.
    01/31/95
    USA
    DGC
    DGCC-24516
    NOTES: DGC reissue on cassette.
     

    INFO NEEDED FOR THIS RELEASE

  • Please write me w/ anything that's missing!

  • cover


    vinyl back cover


    vinyl sleeve side 1


    vinyl sleeve side 2 (rest is blank)


    vinyl label side 1


    vinyl label side 2


    enigma longbox


    DGC cd back


    DGC cd insert text side (w/ cover)


    DGC cd insert photo side


    DGC disc


    cassette cover


    blast first disc


    blast first CD insert


    blast first CD insert


    blast first CD back


    ciccone youth promo


    blast first cassette