Review: Dinosaur Jr :: Puke + Cry (The Sire Years 1990 – 1997)

Having invented the nineties in the eighties is the greatest music-historical merit that Dinosaur Jr can pin on their lapels. The Amherst, Massachusetts band domesticated hardcore, that retarded offshoot of punk that was the defining underground music of the first half of the 1980s. While the sound of Dinosaur Jr was also deafening to the ears, it fused the noise with poppy melodies and maudlin vocals.

? Buy PUKE + CRY at

Band leader J Mascis brought the guitar solo, wah-wah pedal and use of feedback to indie music – until then frowned upon as hallmarks of “old” testosterone rock. The fact that the band set a bold counterpoint to the mainstream of that era, to the music that was then heard by those who wore pleated trousers and spiked hairstyles, is only mentioned in passing. With the first three albums DINOSAUR (1985), YOU’RE LIVING ALL OVER ME (1987) and BUG (1988), Mascis (guitar, vocals) with Lou Barlow (bass) and Patrick “Murph” Murphy (drums) created the blueprint for Alternative rock and grunge that would dominate the first half of the 90’s. But Dinosaur Jr themselves never made it to the front row, where bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden took the seats.

With the first three albums, Mascis created the blueprint for alternative rock and grunge with Lou Barlow and Patrick “Murph” Murphy

On stage, the trio unleashed an infernal energy that contrasted with the slacker habit of those involved. The guitarist hid his shyness from the world with a curtain of long hair. The bassist, with his curly hair and horn-rimmed glasses, looked like a freshman, as did the drummer, but he played his instrument with the power of a superhero. However, the original line-up of Dinosaur Jr soon came to an end. The relationship between the control freak Mascis and Lou Barlow became increasingly difficult. The bassist was no longer allowed to contribute any more songs to the BUG album, which was the last one with the original line-up at the time, and he was only allowed to sing on one, which led to his exit in 1989.

From then on, Barlow concentrated on his solo project Sebadoh and later formed the band The Folk Implosion. Despite the uncertain personnel situation, Dinosaur Jr were signed to Blanco Y Negro, a sub-label of Warner sub-label Sire Records, in the early 1990s. Apparently, word had gotten around at corporate headquarters in New York that alternative rock was going to be the next big thing. In 1991, GREEN MIND, the first of their four major label albums, was released. It was basically a solo effort by Mascis, with drummer Murph present on only three songs.

The album surprised with melancholic undertones and a number of calm songs

Musically, the album followed the pop-noise concept of the early days, but surprised with melancholic undertones and a number of quiet songs. Multi-instrumentalist Mike Johnson joined WHERE YOU BEEN in 1993 and ensured a relatively stable line-up for a few years. The album sounded grittier than its predecessor but also had the more conventional songs. With WITHOUT A SOUND, the next change came in 1994. Mascis and Johnson recorded the album together, Murph was fired before the recordings. The trained drummer Mascis took over his job. Dinosaur Jr achieved moderate mainstream success with the album, which pushed the band’s signature noise-pop in a slightly softer direction.

It peaked at number 44 on the US charts. HAND IT OVER concluded the first phase of Dinosaur Jr. in 1997. The album was co-produced by My Bloody Valentine’s lead singer and guitarist Kevin Shields, whose dense guitar sound was closely related to Dinosaur Jr.’s music. HAND IT OVER sold poorly , the hype surrounding alternative rock had cooled by the end of the decade. J Mascis then broke up the band until they reunited eight years later with the original line-up.

The 4 CD box PUKE + CRY – THE SIRE YEARS 1990-1997 contains the four albums that Dinosaur Jr released in the 90’s on Blanco Y Negro/Sire. The original track listings are complemented by 28 bonus tracks, singles, b-sides, acoustic and instrumental versions of album tracks, and alternate mixes. In the case of retrospective releases, such bonuses are often worthless inducement to buy. In the case of Dinosaur Jr, however, they do make sense because they provide a deeper understanding of the band’s music and round out the overall picture. Also included is a 14-page booklet with an essay by Mojo author Keith Cameron, with quotes from interviews with J Mascis.


Tuvaband :: New Orders

The Norwegian moves without urgency in the broad field between indie and dream pop.

Anna Erhard :: Campsite

The outdoor indie pop of the ex-Serafyn guitarist wanders over mountains and valleys.

Horsegirl :: Versions Of Modern Performance

Three horse fans from Chicago play post-punk with ebbing power and dreams in their heads.


Nirvana, The Supremes & Nile Rodgers receive Lifetime Achievement Grammys

For the first time since 2020, the “Special Merit Awards” will be presented at the Grammys again this year. The winners have already been determined for three categories.

The man who was on Nirvana’s cover of NEVERMIND as a baby has (again) sued

Spencer Elden, who appeared nude on the cover of Nirvana’s album NEVERMIND as a baby, has appealed his dismissal of the lawsuit against the band.

Kurt Cobain’s wrecked guitar fetches nearly half a million dollars at auction

The sale saw more than 1,500 rock ‘n’ roll essentials including a diamond-encrusted gold watch by Elvis Presley, a grand piano by Bob Dylan and round wire-frame glasses by John Lennon.