Cherry Red Reissues – The Barracudas – Dinosaur Jr – Angelic Upstarts

Cherry Red Records releases a slew of reissues, special editions and box sets every month, Fighting Boredom have been checking out three that caught our eye this time. An Angelic Upstarts singles double CD compilation, a musical history of the South Shields socialist punk band adopted by the Oi! movement. A collection of the major label Dinosaur Jr albums, slacker icons somehow classed as grunge. A triple CD extensive reissue of the seminal Drop Out With The Barracudas album, featuring singles, outtakes, demos and anything else the guitarist could find in his tape collection. Surfers turned garage masters this deserves some exploration. 

Read what we thought of them below.

Angelic Upstarts

The Singles 1982 – 1985

Captain Oi

Angelic Upstarts came from South Shields in South Tyneside. If you need an explanation of their political outlook just skip straight to Heath’s Lament. A seething expression of standing on the picket line watching scabs crossing over. They were socialist, working class and angry. Their first single is a response to a boxing coach killed in police custody and the last single on this compilation is about the bomb attack on the hotel in Brighton where most of the Tory ruling politicians were staying before their conference. Between these two are songs about teenage boredom and anger, songs about the army, futility of war, crime, class war and workers rights. It’s a far cry from the image the press gave them as skinhead boneheads spouting violence and hate. They were so much more than that.  

The music goes from shouty loud punk to synth led pop. Folk to nastiness. The covers reflect their sense of humour, Cliff Richard, and from where they come from, The Animals. I’m very much favouring the first CD as it’s more of the punkier stuff but CD 2 is a good listen too to see where they headed. A great collection.

Dinosaur Jr

Puke + Cry The Sire Years 1990 – 1997 4CD Box Set

Cherry Red

There are four albums here, plus singles and B-Sides all from when the band signed to Sire after the success of the brilliant Bug. Most of the playing on these records is by J but as his voice and guitar are what make Dinosaur Jr sound like they do it doesn’t really lessen the sound.

Green Mind. The whole cost of this box set would be worth it for just the one song, The Wagon is just phenomenal, I still have a beaten up 7″ single of it that I used to play intensely loudly to like minded delinquents when I was young. The photographer also has Dinosaur Jr stories, far better than any of mine, corner him in the pub and he might tell you. Green Mind is brilliant, The sheer audacity of making this music that sounds lazy, effortless and quite beautifully gorgeous then carry on just making it is  astounding. 

Where You Been sounds sadder, the plaintive vocals and amazing guitar that spirals, chops, hammers and swoops around the songs make Dinosaur Jr. The whole thing sounds lost and alone. Still a massive sound and it  falls apart at times. some delicate moments of soft voice and guitar. But then thunderous noise. It’s fragile, especially in the soft songs but in the hard too. A lot more mellow than green mind.

Without a Sound starts with a cork coming out of a bottle. It’s got a cleaner sound, still fuzzy and still plaintive and emotional as he wrings those notes out of the guitar. There are quiet moments here too and J’s voice suits that as well as the noise. they amplify the noise making the contrast seem more extreme than it is. The added Instrumentals are cool but without the voice they are missing a key element.
Hand It Over
Still sounds like Dinosaur Jr, lush, rich and melancholy. It is layered and the sound is just perfect. Their last album before they reformed and again mostly just played by J. But it’s still classic noise and vocals, nothing else on the planet sounds like Dinosaur Jr.

The Barracudas

Drop Out With The Barracudas – 3CD Box Set

Cherry Red

What to say, what to say? Well let’s start with Summer Fun, a three minute fifteen second slice of perfect surf pop that I must have danced to hundreds of times. I don’t know why it’s perfect. It just is. This is the album it came from, a bunch of kids and a London surf club and their journey from that up to the heights of sixties nuggets garage gloriousness. Drop Out With The Barracudas is where they managed to balance the two to perfection. On the first listen you’re never quite sure what is coming next but by the fifth or sixth listen you somehow know all the words.

That really only applies to the first CD, the actual album and added extras. Which is, as far as I’m concerned an essential addition to anyone’s record collection. Then there’s the other two discs which for the most part are a rush. This is the guitarist Robin Wills’ archive of tapes and they are what you might call comprehensive.

Alternate takes are sometimes hit and miss but these are worth a listen, because they are good songs however they are produced and where ever they were recorded. The debut single sounds ace and for the most part you’ll carry on smiling and dancing around through the whole thing. The only dubious note are the rehearsal tapes, rough isn’t the word but I see why they are here. Altogether a great box set.

Angelic Upstarts website is, they are on Facebook and Instagram.

Dinosaur Jr’s website is, they are on Facebook and Tweet as @dinosaurjr

The Barracudas have no website, no Facebook page and don’t Tweet.

All words by Adrian Bloxham.

Adrian Bloxham

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *