Favourite song choices continue to be tough as I get further down my top tunes list – for Dinosaur Jr, “Get Me” from fifth album “Where You Been” comes out on top.
If I was ranking my favourite bands, Dinosaur Jr would be even higher on the list, but as with Nick Cave at #36, there’s such a surfeit of songs I could have picked – and when pressed to pick just one, this can change all the time. Dinosaur Jr’s career can be packaged into three distinct phases: the original mid to late 80s trio (comprising frontman J Mascis, Lou Barlow and Murph) that produced the first three classic albums, the 90s mid period with J Mascis plus others (and four LPs of varying quality) and then the unexpected but triumphant reformation of the original trio in 2005, which has led to another four albums since. And Dinosaur Jr’s comeback has been unprecedently great – it’s hard to think of another band that has returned with their original line-up and produced such vibrant new music that truly lives up to their imperial phase best; a run that was started with 2007’s superb “Beyond” and has continued through to the most recent “Give A Glimpse Of What Yer Not” from 2016. For example, it’s instructive to draw a comparison with contemporaries Pixies, who reformed at a similar time (in 2004) but have not been able to come anywhere near their past glories with their later records.
I’ve actually slightly surprised myself by choosing a song from a non-Lou/Murph iteration of Dinosaur Jr, but “Get Me” does live on their strongest album without that pair, 1993’s “Where You Been”. Released as a lead-off single in late 1992, “Get Me” is a slightly more reflective song than some of Dinosaur Jr’s typically noisier output, but still bears all the traits that make them so powerful. “Get Me” opens straight into J’s plaintive vocals backed by a beautifully strummed melody, veering slightly into country rock terrain. It then builds to an attractively aching chorus before a typically soulful guitar solo kicks in after about three minutes, reprised again towards the end. And as I mentioned in my post about Neil Young (a huge influence on Dinosaur Jr themselves), J Masics is one of the only guitarists that can play lengthy solos that I truly enjoy, always transcendent to hear live.
Dinosaur Jr are also responsible for one of my favourite music TV moments, when they played “Start Choppin’” (also from “Where You Been”, released as a single after “Get Me”) on “The Word” in early 1993. As I mentioned in post #29, although it had many faults, The Word was a fantastic showcase for bands back then, its general sense of chaos leading to many electrifying performances. Dinosaur Jr’s raucous contribution sees them “Start Choppin”” for what looks like an expected three minutes, but after which they just continue playing. The cameras then pan back a few times and you can hear the audience cheering, no doubt being prompted to do so by panicked stage managers as if the band has finished, but Dinosaur Jr just keep on going. After about a minute of this, The Word cuts away to a pre-recorded trail for their next guest (Terry Duckworth from Coronation Street!), then we return to the studio and you can still hear Dinosaur Jr… Finally after five minutes, it looks like somebody pulls the plug and it’s back to presenter Terry Christian on the sofa with his standard puzzled grin, stating “Dinosaur Jr…bit on the good side, aren’t they…”. I’ve linked to the clip below; coupled with some highly questionable clothes and dancing, it’s a perfect time capsule of early 90s Friday night fun.
VIDEOS AND OTHER STUFF
- “Get Me” video on YouTube (edited version)
- “Get Me” full-length album version (audio only)
- “Start Choppin'” on The Word, January 1993
- Other great Dinosaur Jr songs that just missed out include: The Lung, Raisans, Freak Scene, The Wagon, Out There, Feel The Pain, Almost Ready, Watch The Corners.
- “Get Me” is featured on my 379 to 50: 1 to 25 Spotify playlist
- Also featured on my 379: Indie A to D Spotify playlist
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