Throwback / Ciccone Youth – Into the Groove(y)

[Throwback is a weekly (Thursday, natch) segment where we share a song or album from the past that we wouldn't otherwise have the occasion to discuss. We usually try to focus on the new, the fresh, and the undiscovered music here at DUL. This series gives us a chance to share songs and artists that we enjoy from other eras. They might be well-known classics, they might be hidden gems. They might be from 1969, or 1999, or even 1929. Who knows? There's lot of music out there, and this lets us share a small slice of what we like.]

Ciccone Youth

Words by Brendan

I recently read Confusion Is Next: The Sonic Youth Story. It is (predictably enough) the story of seminal indie rock band Sonic Youth, but it focuses on their story from their beginnings (early 1980s) up until 1995. The band had been going strong since then, although not recently :-(

Anywho, the book makes for an informative and enlightening look at the band’s earlier days, what the music scene was like then, and how the band revolutionized rock music in America. I highly recommend reading it, *especially* if you’re not really a fan of the band’s music. This book will make you rethink, at least, their position in American music history, and will make you want to relisten and reconsider. In the long run, you still might not love their songs, but it will make you appreciate their long-lasting influence.

But hey, one of the many things I learned in the book is that Sonic Youth‘s members, and some friends (particularly Mike Watt) had a fascination with Madonna in the mid 1980s. (Note: fascination does not equal fandom, per se.) So much so, the band formed a side project called Ciccone Youth (a play on their name with Madonna’s real last name) that released both a single and an LP.

This particular song…an oddly faithful (by SY standards) cover of Madonna‘s “Into The Groove”…sprung from the band’s mutual fascination with Madonna, shared with The Missingmen‘s bassist (and the band’s friend) Mike Watt. In fact, this song was included in the soundtrack to the 1985 film, Desperately Seeking Susan. Here, I’ll quote the aforementioned documentary book by Alec Foege, since he spoke with Thurston Moore and others about this album:

[…] The band played along with the original recording—this time, though, they kept part of the original’s instrumental track playing in the final mix, redubbed “Into the Groovey”.

Rather than trashing the song—the obvious ploy for an underground act—Sonic Youth remained faithful to the original version. Moore sings over the percolating dance track, sounding somewhat bored but by no means hateful. Bits of Madonna’s vocal seep in on occasion, the band plays crunchy metal guitar chords that accentuate the song’s meolody—everyone involved felt the end result to be quite entertaining.
(p. 151-152)

I agree. Not knowing either version beforehand, I’ve gone back and listened to them alternately. I find myself listening to the SY one more often. Certainly, I was already a fan of their music, but I still think this might say something about the wider appeal of their musicianship …

Ciccone Youth / “Into the Groove(y)” [1986]


For comparison’s sake, here is the original Madonna version, and its video. Which do you prefer?

Buy The Whitey Album [1988]: Discogs / Amazon / iTunes / Sonic Youth website

One Response to “Throwback / Ciccone Youth – Into the Groove(y)”

  1. This was a cool album. I think “Burnin’ Up” was the one we used to listen to…Haven’t heard it in forever.

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