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Mascis loses marbles, goes solo acoustic
(4 out of 5 stars)
"On Martin and Me, J Mascis sings terribly, plays sloppily, showcases no new material, and covers the horrible, atavistic Lynard Skynard. This album is so much fun! Actually, the guitar playing wasn't that bad. One music magazine reviewer (I forget which, I read too many, plus this album came out in 1996) compared his guitar playing to that of a man with webbed hands. Which was accurate enough, but it seemed to these ears that his muddy strumming was a fledgling attempt at using the guitar as a percussive instrument in the absence of one, something that can be heard in the guitar-and-voice songs of folk blues players like Greg Brown, for instance. Whether or not he succeeded is a matter for another branch of the court, but he wasn't suffering from frostbite or anything. He has a great solo on "Drawerings," too. Mascis' solos are always great though, almost like novels in that they have rising action, climax, and conflict resolution. There's no excuse for singing this bad, though, other than it's a goddamn hoot. I'd rather listen to Mascis warble and creak through Morrisey's "Boy with the Thorn in His Side" then hear Celine Dion shatter all the wine glasses in Napa Valley on a radio tune. However, he does sing with a lot of passion. Let's cut him some slack, people. His cover of Carly Simon's "Anticipation" is both tender and touching. The best of his own tunes on this album include "So What Else is New" (from the terrific radio rock air guitar opus "Where You Been"), "Keeblin" (from their self-titled 1985 debut, if memory serves), and "Drawerings" (also from "Where You Been"). The worst is "Not You Again," an inexplicable interpretation of the expendable song from the mediocre "Whatever's Cool with Me." Mascis also deserves credit for having guts and a sense of humor. The album art depicts a long, brown haired nekkid women running toward flames and a certain crucifixion (well at least a cross, but work with me here, people). Certainly Mascis chose this artwork knowing he was doing the same with this collection. And he was right, receiving the only one-star review I ever remember seeing in Rolling Stone magazine. But nobody has ever claimed there's any geniuses at that publication. "Martin and Me" didn't deserve one star from a publication that warmly receives so much mediocrity. They could have given him two. Maybe they only have so many stars available, like there's a warehouse with them lying on the floor, and they need to horde them for their apologist reviews of their aged namesake band. I give Mascis four because he's fun, and this album's sloppy simple passion is almost punk in a way, from one of the first undergrounders to sign on the corporate dotted line. That said, one live acoustic album's enough, Mr. Mascis. Now get back in that studio and hire some backing vocalists. I'm sick of all the cats on my fence when I play this album."
Ben Reynolds | Cardiff, Wales, Britain | 10/26/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Stripping down Dinosaur Jr's songs to their bare essentials reveals the incredible ability of J's guitar talent and reveals a heart of pure mellow acoustic gold behind the more complex and distorted arrangements to be found on most Dinosaur Jr. albums. The acoustic format - and this is music in one of it's purest and most genuine forms, just a man and his guitar - adds a new dimension to the songs that undoubtedly works. Take 'Thumb', which in it's acoustic form is a beautiful, honest sound aided by J's fragile, straining vocal. The album exudes a subtle warmth that slowly pentrates your heart and makes you want to play it over and over again. Mascis' stroke of genius lies in his focused, passionate and heartfelt delivery of his songs which are revealed to be masterpieces in their own right. The album has an intimate feel which many unplugged albums lack, and this further draws you to the acoustic heaven which lies within. Overall, the sparse acoustic format is a triumph for J Mascis, producing a rich, rewarding sound and is definately recommended for Dinosaur Jr. fans looking to discover the gentle melodies behind their songs and for anyone who appreciates to sound of a great songwriter with passion."
Martin's an acoustic guitar, it's an FYI for the dumb...
heywood jablowme | Chino, CA USA | 06/12/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Amazing album, J. showcases why he's been such an influence for many. If you're new to Dino Jr. and interested in what makes the fans tick, buy a couple of early albums then get this to see how amazing this man is as a songwriter. Hey, it's a four star album, most of you won't lay on your death bed listening to this, but you will always remember this as being a quality purchase."