Monday, 5 September 2011

Nevermind 20th Anniversary

NirvanaNevermind 20th Anniversary reissue

I can honestly say that when an album that you remember listening to constantly when it was first released becomes a ‘classic’ and more terrifying a ‘classic RE-ISSUE’ you know that you’re getting old. It’s happened.

For some, Nirvana’s breakthrough album ‘Nevermind’ is an album from a long ago era that should be recalled along with Chaplin films and ration books. For some of us it was the first real album that you could use to pinpoint your own personal tastes in music coming into existence and entry into ‘your’ life’s rich soundtrack. The album is a true classic in the sense that there isn’t really any filler or ‘flick to the next track moments’ for me, every song from ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ (and yes granted it has been played to death) to the final moments of ‘Something In The Way’ take me on a musical photo book of my early teenage years. I’m positive that, without prompting or clues, I could probably still sing every line on the album and have a stab at playing them on guitar as well, simply because they were so much part of my DNA throughout the hibernating in my bedroom and underage drinking years.

It seems now that the pre-OASIS, pre-Britpop and New Labour barrier of the early 1990’s has now been smashed and, like everything, goes in a cycle. Even fashion is heading back to the ripped jeans and underground punk rock look this year (did you really think the Kings of Leon and TopMan invented flannel checked shirts and clumpy boots fashionably untied?). Before the internet and the constant on the hip mobile phones era existed Nirvana hit like a tidal wave and I would go as far as to say that it has never settled back down since. If you look at the charts at the time ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ was released you’ll get an idea of how stagnant music and ‘the scene’ was (yes I’ve taken the liberty of doing this for you as well and can confirm that Bryan Adams was warbling the never ending ‘(Everything I Do) I Do It For You’ the week S-L-T-S was first released). To sound even OLDER…Kids today don’t know how good they’ve got it. Top of The Pops and The Chart Show on Saturday mornings was all we got for music TV…MTV2? Might as well been discussing 5.1 blu ray to a cave man.

This barrier has now been breached with the new re-issue of ‘Nevermind’ 20th Anniversary special complete with such extras as Producer Butch Vig’s original rejected mix (strange inclusion if you ask me), the demos for the album as well as the most exciting thing for fans, the full 1991 Halloween concert on both CD and DVD all packaged in a lovely 4CD/1DVD box.

The album itself was my first introduction to the band and although not their first album it might as well have been as I don’t think anyone outside of their own circle of friends bought the groups’ debut ‘Bleach’ when it was first released, and I don’t care how much they try and convince me they did. Cut the crap you heard ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ and fell off your chair like everyone else you didn’t by a brand new shiny 45 of ‘Love Buzz’ on Sub Pop records by mail order in Ruislip so ‘fess up.

Fans of Nirvana will know that although the songs on ‘Nevermind’ are amazing examples of Kurt Cobain’s ability and talent for mixing punk rock with pop melodies the production and mixes have always been argued over as being too slick and polished. I think that the sonic excellence of the album doesn’t hinder the songs; on the contrary, it just widened the net for fans across the world and succeeded in its mission. The older I become (now 30 years old, that’s 3 years older than Kurt managed) I start to feel that a lot of Cobain’s punk rock mentality was for appearances and he actually loved a lot of the trappings that come with being the biggest band in the world. I don’t believe that he would have been happier being on some tiny label in Seattle selling 100 copies of each release and being overshadowed by bands such as Soundgarden and Pearl Jam, he knew what he wanted and went for it. He signed his band to the biggest mainstream rock label in the world GEFFEN and happily made hay while the sun shone. The bands he left behind on the $5 dollar on the door underground circuit may have bleated about ‘selling out’ so he took a lot of criticism personally. He couldn’t hide the fact he made great music that had as much to thank from The Beatles as it did from The Melvins and Sonic Youth. For a generation he was the poster boy for their own teenage years. It just so happens that he may not have realised how much it would have taken off and we’d have everything from ‘teenage angst genres and bands’ and convince horrible 80s metal bands to ‘go grunge’ in the hope for a piece of the flannel shirt pie.

For those who missed the show the first time around I am jealous beyond words as you have a bone fide ‘classic’ album waiting to be discovered. Just the thought of having a song like ‘Lithium’ waiting to be heard for the first time in a world where half arsed pap like ‘Viva Brother’ is being touted as a musical revolution, it only proves how much of a legacy Nirvana have left for everyone and also for generations to come.

Now where are my slippers and blanket…

Super Deluxe Edition of 'Nevermind' is released on September 19th (20 years! after it's original release)

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