Monday, April 30, 2007

Dinosaur Jr. (1994)

During the time that Scott and I lived together on 43 Love Street (so nicknamed more for Scott's exploits than mine) in Albany, Scott owned a copy of Green Mind. I listened to it a few times and thought it was a consistently good album, but it lacked anything that really grabbed and reeled me in. I also recall noticing that Len owned a copy of Where You Been, when I stayed with him while in Boston for Mark's wedding. I didn't listen to it then because Dinosaur Jr. weren't really on my radar at the time.

I don't know why it was that I eventually picked up my own copy of Where You Been, but the rest, as they say, is history. I know that Bug and You're Living All Over Me are generally considered to be their best, but to me, Where You Been is the album that kicked off the obsession that would eventually lead Scott to begin referring to them as Danosaur Jr.

I don't know how many times I listened to Where You Been, Green Mind and the less impressive Without a Sound during the next year, but it may have rivaled the extent to which I overplayed Steely Dan less than a decade earlier.

A couple of years later, while visiting my favorite record store in Portsmouth NH, I stumbled across J Mascis' new live solo acoustic album, Martin and Me, and inquired with the store clerk about it. Although she liked it, she was quick to point out that J Mascis' voice in this Unplugged-style setting was a bit difficult to take. In her words, this was certainly not melodic folk. We both admitted an affection for J's gratingly annoying vocal style, which in retrospect, is harder to listen to when not backed by his blistering guitar playing.

It wasn't until the past few years that I paid very close attention to the earlier and more critically acclaimed albums. Scott bought a copy of Bug back in the Albany days, but I didn't spend much time with it then. I know that the first three albums, with Lou Barlow still on board, are considered somewhat revolutionary in that they pre-dated the early 90's grunge movement, and maybe even helped to pave the way for Nirvana's success. Regardless, I've never been much of a Lou Barlow fan, and I remain partial to the less inventive, but more indebted to Neil Young, albums on which J Mascis was the sole creative force.

I saw Dinosaur Jr. live only once, and it was about all I could handle. It was in the late 90's and they were touring to support Hand it Over, which at the time was supposed to be their swan song...but we all know how those things go. The show was at the Middle East downstairs, and at one point I had to move far away from the speakers because I could literally feel my heart pounding. I watched the rest of the show from the back of the venue, and I swear I could barely hear the drums because the guitar was turned up so loudly.

I have to say that I was more entertained by seeing J Mascis play air drums while walking in the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston last summer than I was by this particular live show. Still, Dinosaur Jr. ranks as the first indie rock band of whom I consider myself a big fan.

1 comment: