Nirvana – Nirvana (2002)

To be fair, if you only want one Nirvana album to keep, this it it.

Nearly 10 years after Kurt Cobain’s suicide, comes this release. It’s a great compilation that does justice to the legacy of Nirvana. For example, the opener You Know You’re Right is a rarity, recorded shortly before Kurt Cobain’s passing. It sounds like it too, being deep and emotional in general.

The other cuts are just as good. This album tends to focus on rarities unheard of before. It’s a great little compilation masterpiece, varying from the early Bleach era, through to Nevermind and In Utero, and the MTV Unplugged album. It’s a great way to show off how wonderful Nirvana worked together as a unit.

Nirvana were a professional and talented team of musicians and despite the negativity that features in their music, it’s a great listening experience to have. If you are new to Nirvana, check this compilation out. Nirvana kick started the 1990’s, and were hugely influential. The proof is in the songs, and they have many great songs here.

9/10

Nirvana – In Utero (1993)

Kurt Cobain was not in a good state of mind by 1993. He had struggled to cope with fame and heroin addiction as well. Plus, marrying Courtney Love wasn’t exactly a great move. He still had some great music in him though and unleashed this album in that year.

The album is a step closer to what Kurt Cobain wished to do musically. It’s a rawer and more unapologetic stance in comparison to Nevermind, with help from producer Steve Albini. Indeed, Kurt Cobain disliked Butch Vig’s production on Nevermind intensely and although this album was mixed for a more pop sort of audience, there is no doubt that the music here is a more uncompromising version of Nirvana than Nevermind ever was, especially lyrically. Perhaps the name and artwork of the album referred to his daughter being conceived, quite odd really.

We start off with Serve The Servants and we have Kurt sounding more distressed than ever. The band puts in a great performance here though, and there are plenty of distorted guitars here to boot.

The next song Scentless Apprentice is a heavy and distorted pop Grunge song to boot. It goes from slow to furious in a nanosecond. Dave Grohl really does well here on drums and keeps the groove going well.

Heart-Shaped Box is an indirect stab at Kurt’s wife Courtney Love and has some pretty freaky lyrics. Kurt’s guitar work sounds really good here and is the standout of this song. “Forever in debt to your priceless advice.” Sounds like a man who was not enjoying his life.

Rape Me is notoriously explicit. But it’s a catchy piece at that. Kurt insists he is not the only one who desires this feeling and is rather an odd concept to get your head around. It sounds a lot like Smells Like Teen Spirit in the intro, at least.

The next track Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle is a slower and more melodic song, but still sounds messed up Kurt Cobain style. It sounds not out of place on the album, however.

The following track Dumb is a mainly acoustic and cello piece where Kurt sings about comparing happiness to stupidity. It’s a strange notion, but one that has meaning behind it. A good and more mellow song nonetheless.

Very Ape is a rather throwaway song. Good thing it only lasts a couple of minutes. Interestingly, this song has the riff at the start that was used in The Prodigy’s Voodoo People track. It’s a rather odd Nirvana piece regardless.

Milk It goes from PiL style guitar parts in the quieter section, to a loud noisy roar in the main sections of it. Kurt wasn’t happy with himself at this point, “Look on the bright side is suicide.” and despite the negativity, it is good Grunge pop.

We come across another hit single. Pennyroyal Tea starts off with a mellow acoustic part before Kurt Cobain launches into music that tells the world about some of his various problems. Kurt wanted to lay everything bare here.

It goes deeper on the next piece Radio Friendly Unit Shifter and Kurt Cobain questions the reasons for his problems in life. He repeatedly asks, “What is wrong with me? What do I think? I think.” From a lyrical point of view, we know that Kurt Cobain was losing it mentally, amongst the great music here.

Tourette’s comes next and is a much more pacey punk song about nothing in particular. It has a great chord progression in it, however. It just kicks ass and changes the mood a little bit before the last track.

All Apologies finishes Kurt’s career, for the most part, with a musical suicide note. He questions everything that he stands for and leaves us sadly with this song. It’s a good epitaph for his musical life.

This album sold well, but not as much as Nevermind did. Sadly Kurt was in a state of mental decline at this point. His death by suicide left behind a musical legacy that should have been continued. Still, this album is a great if not dark listen to all rock fans out there. Much like Kurt’s idol Ian Curtis of Joy Division, suicide was seen as acceptable, sadly. It’s best to focus on the music instead, and this album is just awesome.

Nirvana fans should check out the re-releases and extra tracks put onto those remastered re-releases. It’s a great Grunge album for sure regardless.

8/10

Nirvana – Nevermind (1991)

Nevermind changed everything in the music industry and not just Nirvana’s fortunes. Prior to this, the music scene internationally was comatose after a rather ordinary decade in music making during the 1980s. There seemed little hope or good in most modern music of the day, until Kurt Cobain and Nirvana unleashed this album onto the music scene way back in 1991.

Ironically, none of the people in Nirvana’s circle expected the album to be a hit. It has a punk like feel to it, and began the early 1990s Grunge scene which had many people follow suit in the screaming vocals, quiet/loud dynamics and overall dark feel of the record. It’s still largely influential and popular today. It features drummer and superstar Dave Grohl as a new addition to the band, who would stay until the band was finished. The album title may be a direct reference to Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols. The group had a great sense of musical history.

The first song, Smells Like Teen Spirit is a great pop song. It was the biggest song off the album and refers to youthful angst. It’s just awesome and has a bipolar feel to it. It’s an interesting rumour than Kurt Cobain, the singer/songwriter, and guitarist may have had bipolar himself. Despite that, it’s a great five-minute pop piece.

The next track In Bloom is obviously satire. It tells a nonsensical story, before leaping into a whirlwind of drum rolls and the chorus is uplifting. The drummer Dave Grohl does a top job here and is, in general, an underrated drummer and musician to boot. Go figure.

Come As You Are is an openly honest song about appreciating the company of others and friendship. It’s a really great song, with Kurt Cobain professing: “I swear that I don’t have a gun.” A classic.

Breed follows and is a great example of stop/start dynamics in a song. It’s fast, furious and brutal. Nirvana was excellent at these song structures, it’s a great piece.

The following track, Lithium is a very dark song with some rather deeply disturbing lyrics in it. It’s really good but messed up on a psychological level. A great Nirvana song nonetheless. Some nice guitar work is here.

The rape story Polly follows and it’s a very intense listen. It’s deeply dark and acoustic driven, leading to the overall twisted ambiance on this song.

Territorial Pissings comes next and it is difficult to transcribe the meaning of this song. It’s a punk like assault and is good listening for that reason.

Drain You follows, and as it suggests, is about baby love. It’s a twisted tale, complete with baby dummies being squeaked. It’s humourous and hard-hitting simultaneously.

The follow-up Lounge Act isn’t very memorable or special sounding. But the chorus is very catchy, so it’s not all bad.

The song next that is Stay Away is a pacing and energetic fun-filled pop song. Although Kurt Cobain meant serious business when it came to music, Nevermind does have its fun and lighter moments. Good listening, “Monkey see, monkey do.” indeed.

On A Plain has more twisted lyrics but with a much more chilled setting sound wise. It’s mellow enough to be appreciated and is a nice departure from most of the songs on the album in that respect. Nirvana was a band of variety.

Something In The Way is very close to the bone. We hear Kurt strum along acoustically and tell a story about sleeping rough, complete with cello accompaniment. Kurt Cobain, prior to becoming famous, did not have a very easy time growing up. Additionally, there is on some versions of the album the rather unnecessary Endless, Nameless is included as a hidden track after the main album. The hidden track is in no way special.

This album is very important in the history of rock music. It has inspired many bands after it to follow a similar route. Grunge was directly inspired by Nirvana and Kurt Cobain. This album made the group superstars until Cobain’s suicide in early 1994. It’s best to remember them by this record, a great mixture of pop sensibilities and quiet/loud slow/fast dynamics. It’s a little disturbing, yet really very good.

8/10