Since David Bowie’s passing in January 2016, the love for the man and his music has continued to grow. People across the internet have continued to debate the merits of his extensive back catalogue with a fervour that’s only really matched by the Beatles and Pink Floyd fans. Albums like ‘Hours…’ have been revisited and reappraised; new remastering of 1977’s ‘Low’ has caused controversy and ‘Blackstar’ has continued to astound and upset with its thinly veiled messages of mortality and dabblings with jazz-rock fusion. Few artists have delivered such a diverse and impressive parting gift.
There have been various Dinosaur Jr. reissues over the years – most notably the Rhino CDs from 2010 – but none that have served the band especially well in the age of deluxe editions and lavish box sets for legacy artists. The Rhino reissues were a step in the right direction with each featuring a smattering of bonus materials (save for ‘You’re Living All Over Me’ which managed to be a potential downgrade from the earlier SST CD), but those still didn’t give the big fans too much in terms of unreleased materials or rarities. Luckily, the 2019 campaign from Cherry Red Records puts that right. The period between 1990 and 1997 presents their most commercially successful, but with that came four great albums, an archive of unheard live material and a lot of other stuff that deserves to be shared.
The band’s albums following Lou Barlow’s departure and running from 1991’s ‘Green Mind’ to 1997’s ‘Hand It Over’ represents the band’s most commercial period. At their peak, the band cracked the UK top 40 singles chart with ‘Start Choppin’ and ‘Feel The Pain’, the latter becoming a staple for alternative compilations for a time.
In 2005, the unexpected happened. Dinosaur Jr.’s J. Mascis and Lou Barlow buried the hatchet after several years of not speaking to each other. This led to the previously unthinkable happening – completed by Murph on drums, the band headed back into the studio. Their 2007 comeback record ‘Beyond’ was a great return.
Most people expected the reunion to be short-lived, but more albums and tours followed: ‘Farm’ was possibly even better than ‘Beyond’; ‘I Bet On Sky’ melded a rough production style with some great songs and while 2016’s ‘Give A Glimpse of What Yer Not’ could be considered the band on autopilot, it featured a classic Dinosaur sound throughout.
Since reconvening the original JayLouMurph line up, alt-rock heroes Dinosaur Jr. have gone from strength to strength. The first three albums released since the 2007 reunion (‘Beyond’, ‘Farm’ and ‘I Bet On Sky’) are a match for anything the three men recorded at the end of the 80s.
There’s a plethora of live footage of the band out there, but finding stuff in good quality can be a challenge. Finding live recordings will well balanced and even audible vocals is even harder, but this show from the ‘Beyond’ tour is absolutely stellar. The band are sloppy as always, but in great form because of that, never despite it. The balance between the guitar and vocals is perfect and the setlist well chosen.