On its initial release, The Whitey Album was treated like a collaboration between Minutemen bass virtuoso Mike Watt and punk rock revolutionaries Sonic Youth. This would have been a perfect match, with two enormous talents coming together for an entire album. But in reality it is far stranger than that: a highly experimental tribute to Madonna performed by Sonic Youth with the exception of one song that is entirely played by Mike Watt without any other musicians accompanying him. The DGC re-release features a cleaner sound and the original packaging from the 1988 SST version, along with liner notes written by Watt explaining his small role in the project. His song, a cover of Madonna's "Burnin' Up," is a smooth, groovy home recording that showcases his rich voice. Sonic Youth takes a shot at "Into the Groove" (renamed "Into the Groovey") and manages to mold a fantastic dirge out of the original. Thurston Moore's lazy vocals pair up with Madonna's sampled voice seamlessly, and the low-quality production only adds to the homegrown feel. Besides Kim Gordon's karaoke remake of "Addicted to Love," little else on this album resembles a normal song. Edgy noise experiments and heavy sound manipulation make these songs more than interesting, and the emphasis on dance rhythms keeps things from getting too unlistenable. Although the song order is questionable (after the first song there is a minute of silence), this album is incredibly fun and experimental. Although it was only a side project, the intense creativity of this time in Sonic Youth's career spills out all over this album, making it a rare treat for fans.
The Whitey Album Review
by Bradley Torreano