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.