There are few bassists to have had such an impact on music as Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon. As a founding member of the innovative noise-rock group alongside Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo, Gordon has since become an icon of the genre for an entire generation.
Too often confined to the vomit-inducing “female bassist” category, Gordon’s defiance to stick to mainstream ideals has always seen her triumph artistically. But as one of the most influential rock musicians of all time, what is the song Gordon would recommend to her fans?
When the former Sonic Youth bassist was asked by NME in 2018 to pick one album that everyone should hear before they died, her answer is deeply rooted in the hardcore scene from which she and Sonic Youth took their no wave cues.
The album she picks is the one and the only album made by The Germs, the anarchic Los Angeles punk group who heavily influenced the hardcore punk scene. Originally released via Slash Records in 1979 GI, The Germs possess some heavyweight rockers including future Dave Grohl collaborator Pat Smear.
For Kim Gordon, the album is an essential listen and a handy piece of personal nostalgia. “I LOVED the singer [Darby Crash] and his words,” revealed Gordon, confessing “We went to the same high school. He was a really fucked-up kid. This was in the late seventies.”
Gordon also shared that it took a little while for her to really clue on to the scene: “I didn’t get into punk straight away. I was at school in Toronto when the LA punk thing happened. It sounded too much like English punk. There were a lot of punks in LA cos it’s such a fascist place, but there was never a punk scene in New York, where I moved to after school, cos there was nothing to tear down – it was already fucked-up.”
The album is often cited as the first-ever hardcore punk album and revisiting it below it’s hard to disagree with the visceral recording and powerful sounds. Imbued with the energy and ferocity of a pent-up band, the group deliver a perfect punk record.
According to Kim Gordon, it’s one album we should all listen to before we die, it’s a 16-track rollercoaster we’re more than happy to jump on.