Dinosaur Jr. Are Living All Over Again
In December of 1987, just as cracks were beginning to show in the musical and personal bond between its three members, Dinosaur Jr. released a whale of an album--You're Living All Over Me--that still stands as the crown jewel of the Massachusetts trio's sterling discography, which is now 10 LPs deep.
That was 25 years ago, and to mark the anniversary, J. Mascis, Lou Barlow, and Murph, who've been reunited since 2005, are playing the album in its entirety tomorrow night at Terminal 5. To make things even more interesting, the trio is following that with a second set of songs drawn from their entire catalog, during which they'll be joined by a bunch of "very special musical guests" who'll play on a song or two. So far, a handful of big names have been revealed: Former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr, Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon, Melvins' Dale Crover, and Sleep's Al Cisneros. There'll probably be a few more as-yet-unannounced folks who'll drop by, and we wouldn't be surprised if Kurt Vile--who's opening the show along with his backing band the Violators--joins in on the festivities as well. It has the makings of an indie-rock all-star jam the likes of which hasn't been seen since the Backbeat Band.
A few random notes/observations/thoughts/whathaveyou:
- While Gordon, Crover and Cisneros showing up makes pretty good sense, given each's pursuit of the noisier, sludgier side of rock over the past few decades, Marr seems to stick out like a sore thumb (maybe he'll play on "Thumb"). Granted, he's roughed up his guitar-attack a bit since the Smiths years, but he still seems far more of a controlled, understated player than Mascis, who's famous for his loud, wild abandon when it comes to solo time. Then again, it's that divergence in styles that should make for one of the night's more fascinating moments when the pair trades licks.
- In the conversation about Best Album Opening Tracks Of All-Time, You're Living All Over Me's "Little Fury Things" has to be near the top. Murph's drums tumble into Mascis's raging guitar fuzz--wah'ed out and distorted chords with a melancholy pull--while Barlow shrieks "What is it? Where is it? Who is it?" in the background, like he's being tortured to extract information. Then, as Barlow's bass joins the fray, it explodes into gorgeously jagged melodies pushed forward by Mascis's unique, drawling whine, abetted by Barlow's sweet vocal harmonies. I heard it for the first time during my impressionable teenage years, and it was an electrifying, edifying moment (definitely more so than the first time I heard "Smells Like Teen Spirit.") At that point, I wasn't that on board with the noisy alt-rock underground--I didn't really get it, was a little intimidated by the challenge of it all, my ears were still enslaved by Top 40 and classic rock radio--but "Little Fury Things" showed me the way that sonic discord and traditional pop songcraft could merge so perfectly (in a way that, say, Neil Young and Crazy Horse's craggy jams hadn't quite done for me), opening the door to a whole new world of music. Thanks, "Little Fury Things"! Perhaps you, too, will get a little tingle in your spine--part-nostalgia, part-it's still so very loud and awesome and exhilarating--when the band kicks everything off with the track tomorrow night.