A long time ago, a wet-behind-the-ears Porky would have run a mile from someone playing a Sonic Youth record: those eerie sounds reminded me of a trip to the ear doctor; while titles like Expressway To Yr Skull would have made me wonder what kind of weirdos were making this kind of stuff. The Youth were corrosive and sinister, part of a burgeoning scene in America that had appropriated hardcore punk and welded it into something almost as unlistenable.
This resurrection from the Reagan era takes us back to Bad Moon Rising which had just been released, and the evolution towards EVOL. Recorded on a four-track cassette the sound is remarkably clear, and you can detect heckles and comments from the crowd. There’s some tinkering, of course, and a recording from another tape had to be spliced onto the original due to a ‘pause button faux pas’. While bulked up with Bad Moon Rising tracks there are previews of a couple of EVOL tracks including, at that point, their most accessible tune, Expressway To Yr Skull, and bits and bobs like the never released Kat ‘n’ Hat that will keep collectors enthralled.
As for the casual listener Smart Bar is an intriguing insight into a scene that seeped out from the underground, eventually, I guess, mutating into the rock monster that was grunge. It feels like a gig at which the initiated or the plain curious would have gone, and would have left with either a feeling that something big was going to take place, or that they would have been just as keeping that appointment at the Ear, Nose and Throat department.