Kiss: Crazy Nights
“Any album that produces a song like Crazy Nights is good for me!” Paul Stanley talks about Kiss’s UK breakthough.
inosaur Jr’s self-titled first album, released in 1985 and made for just $500, was noisy, unrefined and barely made an impression. The Amherst, Massachusetts trio’s followup was an altogether different beast. By
1987, singer/ guitarist J Mascis had imposed his iron will on the band, ceding bassist Lou Barlow and drummer Murph into subordinate roles, which allowed his more classic rock-minded tendencies a freer reign.
Recorded largely in New York with Sonic Youth’s regular engineer Wharton Tiers, You’re Living All Over Me sounded rather like an incarnation of Black Sabbath in which both Ozzy Osbourne and Tony Iommi had somehow been replaced by a somnambulant Neil Young.
All but one of its nine songs coalesced around Mascis’s drawled vocals and his hurricaneforce guitar, erupting up from unexpectedly delicate melodies through a powerful battery of distortion and effects pedals.
This quiet-loud-explosive structuring, signalled on agendasetting opening track Little Fury Things, had an instant and profound impact on American alt. rock going into the next decade. In the Pacific North-West especially, Mudhoney, Tad and another trio from Aberdeen, Washington
– a certain Nirvana – came right along in its wake.
Mascis, whose immense control over his band-mates extended to dictating each drum beat to the cowed Murph, had just the one trick, but he was a such a master of it that he almost single-handedly broke the warp-speed, noise-for-noise’s sake orthodoxy that then governed the American rock underground. He himself, however, put Dinosaur’s newfound looser, less regulated vibe down to another factor. “We’d had sex,” Mascis reasoned. “You lose the thrashing drive after sex.”
The following year, Dinosaur broke through into the indie mainstream with their Freak Scene single. Barlow left soon after in acrimonious circumstances and decided to concentrate on his sideband, Sebadoh.
Mascis meanwhile signed Dinosaur to major-label Warners Bros and enjoyed cult success, but nothing like the enormous lift-off of his grunge disciples. He retired the Dinosaur name in 1997, but the original line-up was reunited in 2005 and has continued ever since ploughing a distinctive furrow. PR
‘Little Furry Things had an instant and profound impact on American alt.rock.’