by Dinosaur Jr. | 213 pages | Rocket 88
Almost as loud and intriguing as the hardcore-fusion Dinosaur Jr. pioneered is the band’s cantankerous origin story, finally told start to finish and authorized by formative members J Mascis, Lou Barlow and Murph. In Dinosaur Jr., a limited-edition coffee table book full of intimate early band photos and anecdotal bickering, fans are introduced to each band member (and other personalities essential to Dinosaur history, including Jon Fetler, Jens Jurgensen and Megan Jasper) and then led through the catalog, from 1985’s Dinosaur to 2012’s I Bet on Sky.
It’s not that these old stories and arguments the book dutifully discusses are newly surfacing – hilarious-in-hindsight jabs thrown over Cookie Monster figurines and SST Records’ hold music have long been rehashed – but it’s the rollicking commentary between Barlow, Mascis and Murph alongside old show posters and rare photos casually snapped at their homes, in friends’ houses or on the road that make the book sing as captivatingly as Mascis composes. Follow along and watch Deep Wound die, discover the precise moment Sebadoh was born, and learn what Barlow and Murph really thought of mid-career Dinosaur Jr. material after both were indelicately dismissed from the band (only to reunite eventually for Beyond).
Dinosaur Jr. fans who never delved into the band’s influences could build playlists for days on the mentions of varied artists like the Replacements, Gang of Four, Nick Cave, Black Sabbath, Devo, the Buzzcocks, Dischord, John Cage – Barlow even calls the Ramones a revelation. It took more than 300 people to make this book happen, and it includes more than 100 photos, which more than adequately illustrate and bottle up to put on display the tightly run ship Mascis steered (while only occasionally pushing people to walk the plank) in his influential pedal-pushing project.