Back in 1990, no-one outside of an elite few knew that Nirvana existed. They were just a punk band form Aberdeen, Washington, USA who were making some records that sold ok. Their first UK show, actually their first show outside of America was in Newcastle upon Tyne, supporting Tad at a venue called The Riverside. I knew someone who was at the show, who said that they were 'shite and nothing special'. So what happened between then and 'Nevermind'. This was the first Nirvana record to feature Mr David Grohl, an act which Krist Novoselic says made everything fall together for Nirvana. Reviewing this album is like going back to an album that I played many times in my youth; this is the land mark record of my generation. So how has it aged, is it now an old vintage to savour or is it like a bargain bin can of bitter and a little dinted.
Ok, I will go with the negatives first - I can no longer listen to "Smells Like Teen Spirit" without hitting the fast forward button. I have total over familiarity with that track; it has been played so many times that my mind has no room left for another listen to the song. I would lose the ability to process numbers if I hear it again and I need that to pay for food. Also, which "Polly" might be most people favourite acoustic track of 1991, I have never liked it in any format. It is an acoustic douche bag of a song and way always the point which I used to change to side two of the album. I will also like to say whilst "Come As You Are" or the reworking of Killing Joke's "Eighties" as Mr Chaney will like to say is a weird song that does nothing much for me. It is not bad, just not very good either.
Now this record has a very slick and smooth production for what is essentially a dirty punk album (grunge was not even a style when this was recorded). Butch Vig has made the noise kid look slightly tidy, but underneath the Vanier of gloss, the black heart of a junkie punk still lingers. I still adore "Drain You" "On A Plain", "Lounge Act" (I was so glad this was not a single, it still feels like a secret track) and "Territorial Pissing". Actually, everything on what would have been the 'B' Side of the album. It is just darker and almost the slightly better brought up cousin of the vastly superior album 'In Utero'. Also, I still think of this as an album in two halves - it still feels like it has a natural 'A' side and a natural 'B' side. This is not a bad thing, just seems strange in this age of CD's and just one natural record. Also I still love secret track "Endless Nameless" which was a jam out track from an out take of "Lithium". Everything on the 'B' side was just better.
So this album has a natural two face personality - you have the singles which everyone loves, and I still don't mind "Lithium" or "In Bloom" myself, but you also have the parts which are less famous on this album. I mean, being less famous on one of the biggest selling albums in history is like being 10 richest person in the world - you’re still going to be rich. I really am not one for total nostalgia in some way, and this album is not the life affirming record that it once was. I guess I am over familiar with the main hits, yet the last seven tracks make this record for me. They show that there was more to this band then the bright lights. According to urban myth Kurt Cobain wanted to destroy every copy of this record and start again. But how do you destroy a few million copies of a record. It is sighted as changing a generation, which it may have done. Doesn't mean it is the best album ever that is down to the perception of the listener - and this listener is marking from his heart.....
7 out of ten - This is good and well worth a check
You can purchase the album from here
You can visit the Nirvana website here
You can listen to the album on Spotify here