When the Strange Fruit label folks first opened the BBC vaults in the early '90s, it was for all the late-'70s punk-era bands, via the John Peel Session series. Since then, the archivists have been busy extracting the even more amazing '60s sessions (see reviews for the Who and Small Faces). So it's high time to get to all the important '80s bands, and this one is a particularly valuable release: eight out of the ten tracks capture the fleeting zenith of these former indie greats, right after they released their initial three LPs on Homestead and SST. Lou Barlow was still the bassist, just before he was acrimoniously fired by leader J. Mascis, who would thereafter operate the group as a thinly disguised solo vehicle. In the end, it was good for Barlow, as it led him to take the reins of a group, and Sebadoh resulted. But too bad the two couldn't get along. Because the collaboration of such obvious talents, along with murderous drummer Murph, is completely alive here, even more so than on, say, Bug. The sound and mix are a lot clearer than the muddy greatness of the actual albums. This becomes apparent right from the opening roar of You're Living All Over Me's "In a Jar," and just seems to get more smoky and dense as each track passes. The thick, hazy mega-distortion, the Neil Young-on-coke-syrup vocals, the super-submerged melodic force, the whole incoherent power of it all, coalesces perfectly. Mascis would go on to have bigger hits running the show without interference from talented bandmates, but this was the collision of three visionary types, and it's not hard to understand why they were championed by the British more than our often clueless country -- firstly by virtue of these myriad sessions for national broadcast there at a time when they were drawing 50 people to their New York gigs, and secondly by the multitude of incredible bands they influenced so strongly in the forthcoming English dream pop explosion just around the corner. For those smart enough to clue in, Dinosaur Jr. were pointing the way to the best independent music that would come in the '90s. Let's hope that's another decade coming soon from this series.