Dinosaur Jr.



by Pechorin USER (23 Reviews)
December 5th, 2005 | 329 replies

Release Date: 1985 | Tracklist

Twenty years ago, a record was released. It was met with very little fanfare, though it contained some very groundbreaking music. Six years later, Nirvana would ride this new style of music to superstardom, while Dinosaur Jr. would still remain underground. Going against the punk trend of no guitar solos, Dinosaur Jr. had a great blend of solid bass, great drumming, and insane riffs and guitar solos. Though some find J Mascis's voice whiny and annoying, his songwriting is among the best of the 1980's. In short, this is one of the most unique records you will find from this era. Here's why:

At the time, the band was still known as Dinosaur. As the story goes, they got sued by a band made of old 1960's singers called the Dinosaurs, as they did not want to be confused with Dinosaur. To appease The Dinosaurs, the Jr. was added to signify that the new band was a generation apart from the others; It is then only fitting that Dinosaur Jr. would be much more famous, albeit mostly underground. There are no hits on this album, but you will find a good range of songs ranging from the folky Cats in a Bowl to the faux metal Mountain Man to other classic indie songs.

The only version of this album available is a reissue that came out earlier in 2005; It has some new tracks (from what I could gather, they are Bulbs of Passion and; the live version of Does it Float?); Part of the amaze factor of this album is the fact that this sound we attribute to the late '80's Dinosaur or early '90's grunge movement was happening in 1985, during the height of the more typical '80's music; As I stated earlier, the musicianship on this record is tops; J Mascis plays great rhythm parts on the guitar, along with searing leads almost unheard of in their scene at the time. Lou Barlow (founder of indie legends Sebadoh) plays nice, thumping bass to cover for J when he solos. Plus, Murph holds everything together with his drums; his perfectly timed fills and cymbal crashes punctuate the music perfectly.

Some of Dinosaur Jr's best works are on this album; Bulbs of Passion demonstrates J's love for writing songs with many parts and little formal structure; It more flows along in a continuous stream rather than the usual verse, chorus, verse format normally seen; Lou Barlow's Forget the Swan is perhaps the best Dinosaur Jr. song ever written, with its perfect blend of acoustic, clean electric, and lead guitars; Great vocal harmonies (if you like J's voice) also help to point out that Dinosaur Jr. was something special; Then there is the weird cross between folk and punk on Cats in a Bowl; The band's humor also shows through on Mountain Man, an almost hilarious faux metal work; Repulsion and Does it Float are also some very solid songs worth listening to; J even throws in a ballad in the form of Severed Lips, where his haunting voice and almost surf-like guitar guide you through a great piece of music; His solo on here is awesome, as well.

In addition to the classic works above, the rest of the album features some great indie rock; If there is a weak track, it is the live Does it Float at the end; however, this is one of the only times someone will be able to hear the raw energy that was an early Dinosaur Jr. show; Yes, the quality of the track sucks, and J seems more intent on screaming and making noise, but that was the point.

There are some reasons that an almost perfect album wasn't a commercial success; Primarily, people weren't ready for this; It sounded like nothing around at the time; Music with guitar solos wasn't supposed to sound this raw; Punk and underground rock wasn't supposed to feature guitars with a lot of solos; While great music, it was just too far ahead of its time; The music world just wasn't ready for the noise rock genre yet; Of course this would all come to a head in October of 1991, with the release of Nirvana's Nevermind; Some of the true pioneers of the field like Dinosaur Jr. would never find a lot of commercial success other than one or two songs.

Though a great album, this has its drawbacks Albums like Bug and Green Mind are a lot more accessible than this one is at some times; Dinosaur has a rough, unpolished feel that might seem harsh and grating to many of their newer fans. Also missing is a lot of instrumental clarity; Even though other Dinosaur Jr. albums aren't famous for their clarity, even on later records, take a listen to "Feel the Pain," then listen to "Repulsion;" or "Bulbs of Passion."

However, if you are a fan of Dinosaur Jr. or indie rock at all, this is a must-have album, both for the history and the solid songs on it; It truly is a classic of the genre, albiet an unrecognized one.

Bulbs of Passion
Forget the Swan
Cats in a Bowl
Does it Float
Severed Lips
Mountain Man

Low points
Live version of Does it Float
May be too lo-fi or noisy for some people
Hard to find at times

Due to the groundbreaking nature of this album and the excellent content in it, I am compelled to rate it a 5/5.

I would like to point out that the original album was released in 1985, but the new version (that I reviewed) was released in 2005. Sadly, the original is out of print at the time...

This is my first real attempt at a strictly non-TxT review, so forgive me if it seems I got off track at times.

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user ratings (407)

Comments:Add a Comment 
December 6th 2005


you did a fine job on the overall. It gets my vote.

December 6th 2005


Album Rating: 5.0

Every time I entered a semicolon above, some weird thing appeared. I'm fixing it right now.

EDIT: Now the paragraphs died.This Message Edited On 12.05.05

December 6th 2005


Good review. As for the band, I'm not a fan

December 6th 2005


Album Rating: 5.0

Thanks. The thing also failed to submit the first paragraph at first, too. I think I fixed it all up, now.

December 6th 2005


Yeah, it looks prettier now

December 6th 2005


Album Rating: 5.0

I highly recommend them (obviously). Ear Bleeding Country is a good start, though it leaves off some great songs, as well. If you download songs, I recommend the following to get a general feel for some of their good material:

Forget the Swan

Freak Scene


Feel the Pain

The Wagon

Out There

Green Mind

There are some crappy Dinosaur Jr. songs out there, but the good far outweighs the bad. Also, I wouldn't call them strictly grunge, per se. They have a sound that's quite unique, but they are relatively close to the sound...You have to hear them to get a picture of it in your head.

December 6th 2005


Album Rating: 4.0

Great review, and I didn't suspect this from you.

Bug was the bands best moment, but this is still and excellent album.

December 6th 2005


Album Rating: 4.5

I sooo want this.

December 6th 2005


Album Rating: 5.0

I'm full of surprises. Nacho's review of Bug inspired me to like them a long time ago. The only thing is that they're hard to find albums for. I really want You're Living all Over Me and Green Mind, but they're impossible to get.

December 6th 2005


Album Rating: 5.0

I was about to do Electriclarryland, too, but as I don't own any other Butthole Surfers stuff, I need to research their other albums.

December 6th 2005


I like Dinosaur Jr.

December 7th 2005


i should check this out

December 8th 2005


Album Rating: 5.0

It's worth it, but if you aren't that familiar with their sound, I still recommend giving Bug or Ear Bleeding Country a listen first.This Message Edited On 12.07.05

December 9th 2005


i think without a sound is a better cd but this is a close second

December 24th 2005


What are these guys like??? What band would they be familiar to?? any band with a rating of 5 is worth a Cd, but i want to know what they sound like....

December 24th 2005


I think they are in the same league as Sonic Youth and Jesus And Mary Chain.

Two-Headed Boy
December 24th 2005


good ol' dinosaur jr.

i've got nothing

December 30th 2005


Album Rating: 5.0

Dinosaur Jr.= BAD A$$


February 13th 2006


Album Rating: 2.5

this album is merely good. dinosaur are not 'grunge', and nirvana didn't steal their ideas. they took them from the first 'grunge' bands: green river, soundgarden etc

February 13th 2006


Nirvana might not have stolen from Dinosaur Jr., but I think their most obvious influences have always been Husker Du, Melvins, The Replacements, and Pixies.

Anyway, I've listened to Ear Bleeding Country and really liked it, so for a best-of it's great. The song from this album that represents it is "Repulsion," and that's one of my favorites now. So good review for a good band!

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