DINOSAUR JR. – GREEN MIND
Released February 19, 1991- 25 years ago
Dinosaur Jr.’s fourth studio release sheds their earlier and noisier punk urgency for a slower, more melodic vibe without ditching their trademarked quirky lyrics backed by distorted, crunchy folk-rock-meets-grunge on acid sound. While sometimes overshadowed by their earlier SST releases, Green Mind stands as one of the band’s best.
The Classic Pick is a weekly feature at 4pm M-F on The Home Stretch, sponsored by the Good Oak Bar and curated by Kris Kerry. Each Monday at 4pm Kris stops by KXCI’s studio to give us insight on this classic album at 91.3FM and kxci.org.
Dinosaur Jr. was formed by J. (Joseph) Mascis (pronounced mass-kiss) in Amherst, Massachusetts, in 1984. Mascis was always the creative force behind the band, playing guitar, performing lead vocals, and acting as primary songwriter. The other founding members were high school friend Lou Barlow on bass and vocals, and Murph (aka Jefferson Murphy) on drums.
After three albums on independent labels earned Dinosaur Jr. a reputation as one of the formative influences on late 80s alternative rock (along with Pixies and Sonic Youth), creative tension led to Mascis firing Barlow, who later formed Sebadoh and Folk Implosion. Barlow was replaced by Mike Johnson for three major label albums (including some tracks on Green Mind). Murph eventually quit the band, with Mascis taking over studio drum duties before “officially” disbanding in 1997. The original lineup reformed in 2005, releasing a few albums thereafter (this line up played at Rialto in 2013).
Green Mind was practically a solo project. J. Mascis produced the album and recorded vocals, guitar, bass, and drums on all but a few songs here. Original band member, Murph, appeared on a few songs along with a few other guest musicians, including Don Flemming of Gumball (guitar, bass and backing vocals).
Green Mind production credit goes to Mascis, however it should be noted the album was co-engineered by Sean Slade and Paul Kolderie at Fort Apache Studios in Cambridge MA. Slade and Kolderie are a production-engineering team whose résumé reads like a “who’s who” of late 80s/early 90s alternative rock. They’ve produced and engineered albums by Radiohead, Pixies, Hole, Uncle Tupelo, Morphine, Lush, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Buffalo Tom, The Connells, fIREHOSE, Tanya Donelly, Throwing Muses, Yo La Tengo, Julianna Hatfield, King Missle, The Lemmonheads, and many others.
Green Mind barely cracked Billboard’s top 200, it was very influential and was many peoples first introduction to the band.
- Mascis has a very distinctive guitar style that may be referred to as a “distorted and sloppy, yet soulfully genius.” His playing has its roots in that of Neil Young, of whom he has drawn comparisons, but other players such as Stephen Malkmus of Pavement and Andy Cohen of Silkworm can be described this way as well.
Green Mind was Dinosaur Jr.’s first major-label release. Dinosaur Jr. was one of the first alternative band, sometimes referred to as college rock, signed to a major label. Other bands in this first wave of indie bands being signed to major labels also includes Sonic Youth, Jane’s Addiction, and REM among others.
TUCSON CONNECTION – TWO OF THEM: Two of the first three Dinosaur Jr. albums released prior to Green Mind were released on SST Records (You’re Living All Over Me and Bug). SST Records was a small independent label out of Long Beach known primarily for releasing late 80s/early 90s American punk and independent albums (including those from Black Flag, Dinosaur Jr., Minutemen, Hüsker Dü, fIREHOSE, Meat Puppets, Subhumans, Sonic Youth, Buffalo Tom and Descendents among others). TUCSON CONNECTION #1: SST Records was founded by Greg Ginn, Black Flag guitarist and singer-songwriter of Black Flag. Ginn was born in Tucson in 1954. TUCSON CONNECTION #2: Joey Burns, vocalist and one of the founding members of Calexico (with John Convertino of course), was an intern at SST records during the late 80s.
SST releases, You’re Living All Over Me and Bug along with their debut release, were recently re-released on Merge Records.
The cover photo on Green Mind – that of a pre-teen girl smoking a cigarette on a beach, was taken by Joseph Szabo, a well-known, Pratt Institute educated photographer. The photo, entitled Pricilla, first appeared in his photo book Almost Grown, published in 1978.
In addition to Dinosaur Jr., Mascis is involved with several other projects, including J. Mascis and the Fog and Witch.
- Mascis is 50… Dinosaur Jr. is not in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. They have been eligible since 2010.