As co-leader of Dinosaur Jr and a reluctant figurehead for the slacker movement, Joseph Donald Mascis, Jr. became a hero to a generation. In the early mid-90s his band became favourites of MTV’s 120 Minutes, were fixtures on the festival circuit and were even booked for a live in-studio performance for the BBC arts review, The Late Show. During the first part of their career, Dinosaur Jr were a vital part of the alternative music scene; in their reconvened state and with great albums like ‘I Bet On Sky’ (2012), they continued to provide a huge influence over many bands where the distortion pedal reigns.
Given how much love has been lavished upon Dinosaur Jr over the decades, it’s strange how J’s solo catalogue has barely been afforded such high praise. Far fewer people have taken time to appreciate his ‘Songs For Amma’, his albums with The Fog or the one man acoustic works that have previously circulated. His extra curricular output has been met with such an indifference (by comparison) that even his classic ‘Martin + Me’ live recording failed to get a full UK release back in 1996.
Following on from Cherry Red’s Dinosaur Jr. reissue campaign, this December sees the band’s frontman’s acoustic works being given the box set treatment.
A three disc package, ‘Fed Up and Feeling Strange (Live and In Person 1992-1998)’ reissues the ‘Live At CBGB’s’ and ‘Martin + Me’ discs along with a Swedish date from 1988. The box set is great news for Mascis fans as it boasts fifteen unreleased performances.
With the decade coming towards its end, 1988 was a genuine mixed bag. Pet Shop Boys released some of their best ever work; Elton John’s ‘Reg Strikes Back’ album marked somewhat of a comeback for the megastar after five years of intermittently enjoyable material and Jane Wiedlin hit the UK singles chart with ‘Rush Hour’, arguably one of the decade’s greatest pop singles.
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.