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The Story Behind the Sleeve

#18 Goo

Sonic Youth

Released in June 1990, Goo was Sonic Youth’s sixth studio album and their major-label debut. However, it nearly had an altogether different title. The band wanted to call the album Blowjob? inspired by a caricature of Joan Crawford by Arizona artist Raymond Pettibon, brother of Black Flag frontman and guitarist Greg Ginn. Kim Gordon had been an admirer of Pettibon’s Indian ink style since seeing his work in early-80s fanzines while visiting her family in LA, but the band’s record company Geffen were unsurprisingly not keen. Lee Ranaldo told Pitchfork: “We put it forth but we pretty much knew it was gonna get shot down just by the morals of a bigtime record company like that.” the alternative title, Goo, shared its name with a character in Pettibon’s 1989 short film Sir Drone. His much-parodied, hand-drawn cover artwork is based on a newspaper photograph of Maureen Hindley and David Smith, key witnesses in the 1966 Moors Murders trial involving serial killers Myra Hindley and Ian Brady, with the stark black and white drawing accompanied by darkly mysterious comic-book style dialogue.

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