Review Revue: Dinosaur Jr.’s Green Mind

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My name is Levi, and I’ve been assisting Kevin Cole during his show on Tuesdays for quite some time now. I also review CDs from time to time. A big part of my job is pulling CDs from the library for Kevin’s show. As Kevin is the kind of guy who likes to delve into the recent and not-so-recent past as much as he mines the cutting edge of the present, a lot of time I’ll end up pulling CDs that have been here for several years, often since the days of KCMU.

These days, this is more or less how the review process works: One person listens to the CD, writes a short evaluation of the music (usually relatively non-judgmental, relying more on description than criticism), along with a couple “go-to” tracks, and sticks it to the front. Every once in a while someone might add a clarifying remark or additional song to check out, but for the most part it seems the original review stands alone. Not so back in the wild west days of KCMU, apparently. It is very common to pick up a particularly contentious CD or LP that will have 4, 5 or more comments from differently people arguing back and forth about the merit or lack thereof of a particular album. It’s a wonderful view into the world of independent radio, and something that I’ve been wishing I could share with the outside world. Now, thanks to the magic of bloggery, this dream has come true. I hope you find these as hilarious and fascinating as I do.

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In honor of Dinosaur Jr.‘s recent reformation and visit to our fair city, I’ve decided to start us off with one of the albums that turned me down the dark, twisty road of indie rock, Green Mind.

1991′s Green Mind was Dinosaur Jr.’s fourth album, and the first released after the departure of founding bassist Lou Barlow (who went on to form a little band called Sebadoh). Green Mind came out several months before Nirvana’s Nevermind completely changed everything about music forever, but the cranked guitars, slacker vocals and oddly catchy songs could perhaps be seen as putting the lie to the revisionist idea that Nirvana single-handedly altered the face of popular music. Not to understate Nirvana’s contributions at all, but that’s just to say that there were a lot of raggedly-dressed noisemakers forcing their way onto the charts in the early 1990s, not the least of which were J. Mascis and co.

For a little local interest, lead-off track “The Wagon” was actually released as a single by Seattle’s own Sub Pop Records in 1990. The version on Green Mind is, as one of the reviewers suspected, a different mix of that track.

This could just be coming from my own perspective as someone who was in his early high school years and really starting to appreciate this type of music at this time, but I do believe that at this point Green Mind is pretty generally acknowledged as an indie rock classic. Obviously, at the time this CD came into KCMU there were some folks with rather different opinions.

In case you can’t read them, here are the comments on the cover:

“Pretty much a J. Mascis solo release w/a little help from his old friend Murph. Not as grungy as Bug, but I like it. A good record.”

“Nothing wrong here!”

“Opens up with Wagon (remixed?) which is pretty much the highlight. The rest mainly just flail about trying to capture its magic. #76 (a red dot) comes close and #7, 9, & 10 are pretty nice too. Still, overall, not so hot.”

“This is one of the best ever pop/rock masterpieces ever made, how could you not love it.”

“Completly [sic] and totally disapointing [sic] I would never hae guessed this was the same “Living All Over Me” band. I’m sooo depressed. It must hae been the name change. [Note: Dinosaur Jr. was originally just Dinosaur, but changed their name a couple albums before this due to legal issues.] Title cut is OK.”

“One of my all-time faves!” [This is Chilly's comment, and I think of a more recent vintage than the rest of the stickers on here. Chilly is a smart man.]

Stay tuned: Review Revue will be a regular feature every Thursday.

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5 Comments

  1. Posted September 20, 2007 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    Hell yeah. Really cool. I’d love to see some more. Like, what does ‘Ritual de lo Habitual’ say? Are there any stickers on that one?

  2. Posted September 20, 2007 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    Ooh, that’s a good suggestion. I will check it out next time I’m at the station.

  3. Wes
    Posted September 21, 2007 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    Thanks Levi - really fun blog entry. Reminds me of my own days as a DJ on my college radio, WMPG in Portland, Maine. I used to play this record when it came out in ’91. Do more of these blog entries, please. Thanks!

  4. Rachel
    Posted September 26, 2007 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    Yeah, totally rad. Keep it up!

  5. Posted October 1, 2007 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    This is brilliant. Brilliant! All the CDs at my college radio station tended to turn into the equivalent of a bathroom wall with aspersions directed at previous reviewers via arrows.

    E.g.,
    This is terrible.

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