Category Archives: Nirvana

In Utero-NIRVANA-1993


This album sometimes gets lost in the shuffle, and it doesn’t deserve to be. It is very much in the style of earlier works, however people get involved in trying to assign meaning to the lyrics. There has been endless discussion about Cobain, his motivations, emotions, his distance from the underground, how he wanted to go back to the “roots”, his alienation from fame, Courtney “The Bitch” Love yadda yadda yadda…….

As for me, after all these years, I am in a position to view the pop culture waves from a distance, and I know the tides, its ebbs and the fallout. Nirvana was adapted by all “players” for their own purposes, and In Utero encapsulates that trend perfectly – the music is tired – so tired and frustrated – it is the feeling you get when you realize that you are but tiny fish in the pond caught in currents beyond your ken and control and nothing you say or do will changeIn_Utero_(Nirvana)_album_cover anything. The corruption runs deep, deeper than imagined, and nothing is pure, no driven snow. The hippies want recognition – the mindless corporation wants money – and the rest-well, who’s left?

If Bleach was juvenile white hot fury – if Nevermind was a confident, hopeful attack – In Utero is the dawning realization there is only so much that you can do after all. Somebody, somewhere, will exploit you somehow, you can get used to it or stick a gun to your head. Throughout In Utero runs the theme of parasitic behavior and hidden agendas – by listeners, corporations, lovers and friends. A man gets driven to suicide when he goes back home and knows that nobody has his back – not his wife, not his friends, and definitely not his real estate investment handler-and when you have perceived value it will be used, and used and you will be run dry and then throw away like a used glove.

The sonic palette of In Utero is raw static tinged with touches of gentle moonlight, good enough to make your head drop in your hands and listen to the album the whole way through – somehow this has become my go-to album when I want my dose of Nirvana. You could call this late period ironic post hardcore punk, or better yet, lets not attach any labels because we all know that’s a mug’s game, eh?

Some songs are just abrasive  for the sake of being abrasive and would not make sense out of the context of the album – however this album remains a must hear and neat addition to the short lived grunge period in rock music. The Ramones and the Misfits will hardly ever understand the ramifications of their 2 minute 2 chord expositions, will they now?

-Baba T


Nevermind-NIRVANA-1991


This review is for people quite unfamiliar with rock music. For the uninitiated, this is the reason they still make Kurt Cobain T-shirts. Wildly popular on it’s release, earth-shattering in it’s effect on the cultural landscape, highly praised by the general press, criticized by a few of the music wankers, accused of selling out the underground, this record saw it all. What exactly led to Kurt Cobain’s sad demise, I’ll never know, but people say that the huge success of Nevermind was one of the reasons. This was also my first rock’n’roll record, by the way, and I liked it, even though I heard it a full 15 years after its release. Paul Heyman in the awesome “The Rise and Fall of ECW” DVD (which is highly recommended to all wrestling fans, though I doubt there is a true wrestling fan that has not seen that one) says and there is no better way to say it, “I thought that the industry, the presentation needed to change, like the music industry changed, in the 80’s we had Poison, Motley Crue and all those hair bands, and then along comes Nirvana and BANG!!” And that is what happened to the music industry in ’91. BANG!! And then there was Nirvana. As a footnote, I would love to review the Rise and Fall of ECW sometime, which is simply the best DVD that has ever been put out in the wrestling business, and if you understood the manner in which the wrestling industry changed in the 90’s you would understand how appropriate Heyman’s Nirvana example is. But then nobody cares so fuck you and lets get on with it.

So that was all the talk about the influence and impact of the record, and its been analyzed and talked about to high heaven so I’ll just lay off. If you bothered to listen to Bleach, you will see that Nevermind is the radio friendly, hooks based, more commercial, grunge brother of its predecessor. Still dirty, and cynical (Territorial Pissings, Breed) but more accessible, all the distortion is curbed and the production is much more clean, all thanks to Butch Vig, the man who would be producing all those clean grunge records (I am being ironic here, if you notice) for the next few years all over USA as every record company signed any band that wore jeans and had a lead vocals guy with dirty hair and an heroine addiction.

Having said all that, this still remains a terrific record, even though overplayed to hell. And yes, I am pretentious prick. I pretend to like records that nobody else likes more than records that every Tom, Dick and Harry likes. Where is the fun unless you feel superior to all the kids jumping on a particular bandwagon (be it the grunge or black rapper band wagon). But yes, I like Bleach more than this one. Even though this has the totally awesome “Something in the Way” (with cello and all!!). I can almost understand why Cobain killed himself; no one can make a song like that and not commit suicide. He had some serious issues. That song has more depression than all the rest of the bands discography put together. Yea, Polly has very few chords and again any Tom, Dick and Harry can play the song, but it still rules. Yes, the solo in Smells Like Teen Spirit is the complete replica of the vocal line but that song still rules. Yes, “Come As You Are” seems ripped off from a cut from the debut, but it still is awesome.

However, if you are a teenager and want to be a rebel, with or without a cause (most likely without) Bleach is better. How can you beat the angry strains of “School”? How? Turned out that Nirvana couldn’t.

Recommended Songs – Breed, Smells Like Teen Spirit, Territorial Pissings, Something in the Way, Come As You Are.

-Baba T

 


Bleach-NIRVANA-1989


This is the quintessential grunge experience. The real grunge, and not the highly produced, squeaky clean, hard rock of Nevermind. Before you start saying anything, I am not knocking Nevermind, I am just telling you what to expect from Bleach and contrasting it with the mega super hit that followed. Bleach is the true representative of the underground, counterculture movement that was grunge. It was nothing that the world hadn’t seen before; punk came about as a reaction to the art rock movement in the 70’s, grunge was the natural underground reaction to adult contemporary and glam rock of the 80’s (Motley Crue, Poison, Ratt etc..and many more which were even less relevant, musically and historically. Imagine that.) Oh, and grunge is just the more distortion happy, heavy rock-ish cousin of straightforward 3 chord happy punk, and was more culturally updated, i.e. it was the late 80’s-early 90’s.

Note: – Grunge of that period sounds nothing like the grunge that was marketed by the big corporation record labels in the 93-97 period, after which mainstream got more into Britney Spears with her “Oh Baby One more time” hit and grunge’s popularity ended, people stopped wearing faded jeans and girls stopped wearing anything at all, which is not a bad thing at all. In fact, lesser clothes and loose, drunk and vulnerable chicks is the only good thing about hip-hop/teenybopper culture. I mean, c’mon, if grunge had stayed as popular as it once was, the chicks would all be wearing faded jeans and denim jackets, and would that be a turn on? To come back to my point, if you heard some crappy band like Candlebox/Tad/Stone Temple Pilots/Bush, or maybe you heard Pearl Jam (which is a good band but not grunge at all), and thought that that was grunge you need to go back to the basics, i.e. Nirvana’s awesome grunge album from 1989 called Bleach to see what it was really all about.

Ugly, uglier, ugliest. Raw, rawer, rawest. That’s the short and sour of it. There are no variations in mood, unless you think that going from highly depressed/suicidal/alienated/lonely to pissed off/freaking big rage is a variation. All the songs might sound samey-samey in the beginning so I would recommend that you take it slowly, one at a time, and I am sure you will like it, unless you are in love and in a successful relationship and you also like your job and co-workers and are in no mood for anything but Bollywood love songs and Celine Dion. I am happy to state that I am in no such state of mind, and very likely, never will be, therefore I like Bleach and am gonna stick with it.

The guitars are distorted and fun, the chords are basic, and very angry you know? I mean, I never knew that a simple F sharp or E minor could sound so pissed off and cynical, you know? The lyrics are very simple and very effective and mostly consist of one liners repeated in different ways by Cobain, for example, “No Recess!!”, and “Gimme Some Alcohol !!” are screamed at you in a 5 different ways, though the pitch is pretty much the same, till the point that they are stuck in your mind for quite some time.

The main qualities/strengths of this album do not lie in the album pacing or variation or individual song quality however, but the overall sound and mood. The soundscape created is something that is missing on later albums (even though they tried to reprise this on In Utero) so Bleach becomes pretty essential. Oh, and they ripped off some stuff from here and used it on Nevermind. “School” reminds me of the intro of “Territorial Pissings”, and if sped up, the rest would sound like the Nevermind song too, “About a Girl” reminds me of “Come As You Are”, in fact that song reminds of a lot of other Nirvana songs that came later. We also have an awesome cover song called “Love Buzz” (originally by a band I’ve never heard of before and whose name I forget even now), which is based on a driving bass riff. This, and never before have I meant it so much literally, sounds right.

Recommended Songs :- About a Girl, Blew, School, Love Buzz, Mr Moustache, Scoff.

-Baba T

 

 

 


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