Dinosaur - 3 Stars
You're Living All Over Me - 4.5 Stars
Bug - 4.5 stars
Some records carry too much baggage, heaped on by tastemakers who deem them epochal. Such classification leads to years of indignant recommendation (“Waddaya mean you never heard that album? Are you kidding?!”) and fanzine yardsticking (“This new band tries too hard to sound like that other band”). In the end, no matter what magic spark these records might’ve held, it’s too often smothered under the stultifying sand of veneration. Dinosaur Jr.’s first three discs, now sonically dusted off and reissued with bonus videos, prove the exception to the rule.
Perhaps it’s the power trio’s synthesis of heavy metal thunder with psychedelic swirl and punkish attitude that keeps the music fresh despite years of pedestal-sitting. While the debut, Dinosaur (1985), sounds like the work of a band still honing its approach, tracks like “The Leper” and “Pointless” still pack a considerable sonic wallop. The real revelation came just over a year later when the band’s second disc, You’re Living All Over Me, dropped like a dirty bomb; creating devastating impact in certain circles. The unfortunate New Wave flavors of the ?rst disc were now completely gone, leaving the Dinosaur Jr. sound fully formed, with J. Mascis’ funky whine and scorching guitar, Lou Barlow’s thundering bass and Murph’s pummeling drum onslaught. From the monumental opener “Little Fury Things” to the creepy cover of The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven,” it’s essential stuff.
While Bug (1988) boasts cleaner, more ?nessed production, it lacks none of the potency of You’re Living. “Freak Scene” ?nds J. Mascis double-tracking vocal harmonies, while “Pond Song” features acoustic sounds that would continue to appear in subsequent discs. Sadly, this would be the last offering from the original lineup. But for three releases, it made a wonderful racket.hen the story’s this good, who needs a rewrite?