I hadn't heard The Whitey Album until buying a copy of the re-released version this year. I'd read about it in the late 80s but never got around to hunting down a copy. It sounds fantastic, especially if you think of it as a prelude to Daydream Nation, with looser arrangements, more generous walls of feedback & noise, an improvised irreverence toward the songs turned into homage. Their version of Madonna's "Into the Groove" is brilliant, the beat slowed down and warped with a loud, clanging bass line & primitive drum machine beats. I hadn't quite realized how many Madonna songs are a part of my musical landscape, for instance "Borderline," which I would have loved to have heard Sonic Youth cover. The album sounds more like a mix tape of originals & covers made for friends, rather than a finished production, living up to its legend with stylish mistakes and glitches.
Hearing this album also makes me think of how long of a career they've had, a presence in my life I've always taken for granted, from first reading about them in Spin when I was in middle school, to seeing them live several times: at the USF Special Events auditorium in Tampa, for their Goo tour. A year or so later at the USF Sundome opening for Neil Young and Crazy Horse. Third and last time was in a theater in NYC somewhere in mid-town in 1996, the lights of the city afterwards were a pulsing continuation of the fantastic noise that had permeated the smoke-filled hall, trails of sound. I respect their desire to not take themselves seriously, especially when the music is masterful.