Review : Nirvana - Nevermind
PitchforkDespite its tremendous influence on the mainstream rock that followed, it's hard to think of another album that sounds much like Nirvana's Nevermind, a record with so much more pop and punk punch than any music it inspired. Of course, no diamond-certified, canonical treasure hitting the two-decade mark can be left well enough alone in 2011-- especially one that changed the lives of a lot people now approaching middle age, with the discretionary income to prove it. After all, "super deluxe" reissues of classic albums don't even have to be tied to an anniversary these days. But Nevermind is 20 this week, still a pretty respectable number in a world where any milestone marks an excuse to shift a few more units. The only question is whether these reissues-- a single-disc remaster, a 2xCD "deluxe" version, and a 4xCD+DVD "super-deluxe" edition-- are that rare essential repurchase that makes you hear an album you've possibly exhausted in new ways, or if it's just another mediocre jumble of odds and ends that inadvertently reveals the flaws and blemishes carefully excised from the original 12-song set.
Sadly, both expanded versions fall into the latter category, with material ranging from "interesting" to "historical curiosity" to "of zero value to even superfans." But this mish-mash of sketches, practice-space woodshedding, and alternate-but-not-very mixes does help explain what makes Nevermind so unique. Nirvana certainly never made another album like it. The precocious Bleach still has its partisans, folks who think its primal bash-and-howl is the be-all-end-all of rock, while In Utero stands as the band's most harrowing statement, where it's a toss-up as to whether the riffs or the lyrics hurt more. But Nevermind was and remains an unrepeatable object. It retains the gleeful pummel of the first album while hinting at the bleakness of the third. Yet there's also a concision and clarity that Nirvana hadn't quite mastered on the gnarly-by-necessity Bleach and wouldn't allow themselves on the stark and caustic In Utero....full text
SputnikmusicAh, Nirvana. To many, they represent one of the greatest rock bands to come out in quite some time. Nirvana's rampant success is usually attributed to this album, and rightfully so, as it's the album that launched them into the mainstream. Ranked number nineteen on Rolling Stones Greatest 500 Albums list, Nevermind is filled with distorted guitars, memorable lines, and catchy overall songs. It contains twelve tracks, with a running time of just over fourty-three minutes. What is within, is mostly good.
This album is host to some of Nirvana's best songs. Smells Like Teen Spirit is the most popular, and easily recognizable. It's also probaly the most important, as it helped launch them into fame. The clean intro is a staple to up and coming guitar players looking to learn some of their favorite songs. Vocals here are nigh understandable, as Cobain mumbles nearly everything. The solo contained within emulates the vocal melody present in the chorus, and is a nice touch. Come As You Are is one of my favorite tracks here. It's got a wonderful guitar line, good vocals, and some fairly decent lyrics. "And I swear that I don't have a gun" repeats Kurt during the bridge. This song also contains a solo, and it works fairly well. Lithium is also a fan favorite, with it's frequent shouting during the chorus and soft vocals during the verse. It also contains a great line in "I'm so horny, but that's okay/My will is good."
Musically, this album isn't really anything spectacular. It's all fairly simple stuff. This isn't a bad thing, though. If you're a musician, the songs here should be fairly easy and fun to play, which is always good for beginners. There's also a few great musical moments here. The cello in Something in the Way is wonderful, and adds to Cobains monotone vocals. The solos are done sufficiently. They aren't out to blister your ears, but they do their job. Mr. Grohl does his job well. The drums always fit the songs, and even add to them at times. Bass from Mr. Novaselic is done properly, as well. The intro to In Bloom is good. Often times, the verses are devoid of guitar, leaving just bass and drums. Breed's bassline is chunky and fits perfectly with the high-pitched guitar....full text
BbcBefore its September 1991 release, Geffen Records were hoping to sell 250,000 copies of Nevermind. But Nirvana's second album went on to shift 100 times that amount; and, since the suicide of frontman Kurt Cobain in April 1994, its surprise success has been acknowledged as a factor in its primary songwriter’s tragic demise.
With hindsight it is easy to work out why Cobain struggled with the LP after its completion and release. In Utero, Nirvana's third and final studio album of 1993, was a difficult, abrasive record; compared to its predecessor, it's clearly the product of a mind pushed beyond its limit. Cobain would dismiss Nevermind, the follow-up to 1989's scrappy debut Bleach, as “a Motley Crue record” rather than the punk album that may have been initially intended.
The tunes are still ace, but there is an unquestionable MTV sheen plastered over the bulk of them. The band enlisted Butch Vig to produce the record and trusted him behind the desk. But when mixing went awry, Slayer mixer Andy Wallace was brought in to tweak the final mixes. While Wallace used less studio trickery than the average pop producer, Kurt was right: what now sits on 26 million shelves is definitely not punk.
Instead, it’s an awesome mainstream rock record. Its four standalone cuts, including Smells Like Teen Spirit and Come As You, Are are exemplary, soaring rock singles which quickly became angst-ridden anthems for disaffected teens across the world. The quiet/loud formula that Nirvana made their own was stolen from the Pixies, as Kurt freely admitted; but Frank Black’s merry crew never managed to hook listeners like Nevermind did.
The guitars are all crunched, phased and compressed to within an inch of their six strings, and the drum sounds are predictably accountant-tight and brickie-tough. Lyrically, aside from Polly, Nevermind rarely goes beyond woe-is-me or the cryptic: witness On A Plain’s "The black sheep got / blackmailed again / forgot to put / on a zip code"....full text
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