Friday, April 17, 2015

J. Mascis/Bob Stinson

I came to Dinosaur Jr. way too late.

Actually, that's not entirely true. I came to them just in time for their glorious 2007 reunion record, Beyond. Just before that, really, which gave me time to devour the perfect Green Mind and other magnificent records like Bug and You're Living All Over Me. But in terms of the late 80s, early 90s? I missed it all. I knew who they were, just didn't pay attention.

That was dumb.

What's funny is the first time I ever heard Dinosaur Jr. or J. Mascis incendiary guitar (I wish I could remember what song it was) was in the early 1990s. And my first thought, upon hearing it, was, "Since when does Bob Stinson play in another band?"

I was (still am, of course) an avowed Replacements nut and this wasn't too long after they'd shuffled off that mortal coil in 1991. Bob was long deposed, naturally, as their lead guitar player and, well, I just plain missed the band like crazy. And couldn't believe their eight record output would be all I would ever have of them.

So imagine my surprise when I thought (erroneously) that Bob Stinson had joined a new band. It was like, "Dammit! No one tells me anything anymore!" (Which isn't true. Scott tries to tell me stuff. I just don't listen. To him. Except when I do. Like here.)

Anyways, this is the Replacements song that popped to mind when I first heard what J. Mascis could do to a guitar. This was exactly what his guitar style and playing reminded me of. It's as early Mats as you get, and while it's a rager of a tune, it's not even the best known song on the single it spawned; the lovely and forlorn country shuffle "If Only You Were Lonely" was its B-side and seemed to always delight fans even more.

But just five seconds in, listen to Bob's guitar. That heavy, hyperbaric sound, menacing as hell and yet clear as a damn bell. That was Bob Stinson's sound, when he did it right. And that is J. Mascis sound. Who always does it right.

Bob Stinson's been dead 20 years this year, which is crazy enough to think about. The Replacements legendarily continue to not get the mainstream props they deserve, even as the non-essential masses continue to love them and laud them. (Another year snubbed by the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame! Yippee!)

But man did Bob Stinson create a very distinct and very essential sound for them. And man did J. Mascis pick up the ball and run with it with Dinosaur Jr.

(Here's an example of a great J. solo that reminds me of Bob Stinson. J. starts right in with that sound from the very beginning, and then we hear it again with a solo at the 2:01 mark. Obviously this isn't that one I first heard; this came out at least 15 years later. But I think it's a good example of what two peas in a pod these two really mighta been.)

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