Nirvana – Nevermind
By Paul Rigby
There’s plenty of myths surrounding the rock-grunge legends, Nirvana. Many would be surprised to hear that the pop genre and its inherent melody-based structure is what underlined the band’s musical ethos (among many other musical genres) infusing that trademark Nirvana sound. Also, many observers have been quick to pigeon-hole the band, especially since the suicide of lead singer, Kurt Cobain, with words such as ‘downbeat’, ‘depressive’ and so on. According to bass guitarist, Krist Novoselic, that assertion couldn’t be further from the truth. He spouted that the media over analysed the band, that Nirvana had no image, no agenda and no underlying philosophy and, far from downbeat, Nirvana where there to, “…have a blast!”
“I remember when Kurt and I got into punk rock but other fans got all doctrinaire about it ‘I’m a punk now!’ They burned all of the their Led Zeppelin records, pronouncing them as false gods,” said Novoselic. “We thought, ‘Well…no..this is still good music.’ That, Aerosmith, Black Sabbath…it’s all good music. We used to like music mashed up, appreciating all kinds.”
Nevermind, the band’s breakthrough album, provides a window onto all of this. You can buy it in one of three box sets. Also available as CD/DVD package, I decided to take a look at the slightly rarer vinyl version which packs four slabs of vinyl into a perfect-bound book-like sleeve. Pressed onto black vinyl (there is a picture disc version available elsewhere), this collection includes the original album plus, on disc two, the B-Sides and Smart Studio Sessions. These continue on disc three along with the start of the Boombox Rehearsals. Then, on disc four, the Boombox Sessions conclude while, on the final side of disc four, you get a couple of BBC Sessions. Thirteen of the included tracks are previously unreleased while five are live cuts.
Despite the inclusion of basic paper inner sleeves (a bug-bear of mine), the mastering is impressive. Packed with energy, it offers no harsh midrange problems, is dynamic and, while not the most quiet pressing I’ve ever heard in my life, retains enough clarity to allow the music to sparkle.
Smells like an essential purchase for vinyl-centric Nirvana fans? Oh yes.
Stand-out track: Smells Like Teen Spirit
This complex combination of high energy vocals, heavy guitar riffs and stop/start arrangement will test your hi-fi chain’s timing. Too many systems chase the music like a greyhound after a hare: overshooting left and right. The overall balance of your system can be monitored within this track.
Nevermind – A Recorded History
1991 CD/Vinyl DGC GED 24425
1997 Vinyl Simply Vinyl, Geffen Records SVLP 038
2001 Vinyl DGC 424 425-1
2004 Vinyl Unofficial Picture Disc Geffen Records SVLP 038-03
2008 Vinyl DGC 0720642442517
2009 Vinyl Simply Vinyl, Geffen Records SVLP 038
2011 4LP Vinyl Universal Music Group International, DGC, Sub Pop Records 602527779041
2011 CD/DVD DGC, Universal Music Group International, Sub Pop Records 0602527779058
2011 CD Geffen Records 0602527779034
2011 4LP Vinyl Picture Disc Geffen Records 602527779041