I keep finding myself going on these artist catalog deep dives and finding things I’ve forgotten about. I love when that happens. Recently in the past few days, I wound up going on a Nirvana deep dive. I’m not quite sure how I wound up here but, while going through all sorts of their songs, albums, demos, etc, I remembered that they did a cover of The Velvet Underground’s “Here She Comes Now.” When I listen back to the Nirvana version, it’s kind of interesting that at moments, Kurt really does sound like Lou Reed. The cover is a pretty solid and good version. As a huge fan of both The Velvet Underground and Lou Reed, I can get behind this version. Plus it gives me an excuse to take a break from my Nirvana deep dive and go listen to The Velvet Underground!
Nirvana (The Velvet Underground)- Here She Comes Now:
Nirvana- Here She Comes Now (Live 1991):
The Velvet Underground- Here She Comes Now (from the album White Light/White Heat):
I still remember listening to Nirvana’s Nevermind all the way through the first time and wondering why there was all this empty dead air after “Something In The Way.” Then, after about 10 minutes of silence “Endless, Nameless” begins to play and it all makes sense. The song itself is an interesting one. It’s a very Sonic Youth inspired song with all the noise but, it also has this really cool vibe that acts as a precursor of sorts (all be it probably indirectly) for what would become the raw sound attached to In Utero. It’s also worth noting that this is the only other song on Nevermind credited to all three members of Nirvana, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” being the other.
My all time favorite Nirvana song is Aneurysm. I’ll never forget the first time I heard it thinking that this is one hell of a jam. The dynamics of quiet to loud on this song are stunning. One thing I’ve always noticed is that live versions of this song are way better than the version that appears on the Incesticide album. This live version is from their performance at the Paramount in Seattle in 1991. Some other tidbits you might find interesting about this song is that, “Aneurysm” is one of the few Nirvana songs credited to all three members. It was first performed live on November 25, 1990 at the Off Ramp Café in Seattle. The first studio version was recorded on January 1, 1991 and was the their first with Dave Grohl, who had joined Nirvana in September 1990. This version of the song was released as a b-side on the “Smells Like Teen Spirit” single in September 1991.
Nirvana- Aneurysm (Live 1991 at Paramount Theater-Seattle):
Today is February 20, 2017, also what would have have been Kurt Cobain’s 50th birthday. I thought today would be a good day to pay tribute to him. Over the course of his short yet very influential career, Kurt’s music took on a different life. Listening back to Bleach, there was a healthy dose of pop sensibilities in that album. Kurt’s love of The Beatles, especially John Lennon really resonated with that album. By the time In Utero came out, his attitude towards what was happening in his life was a complete 180. The sharp and abrasive In Utero was logical and made the most sense in his mind. Rather than repeat the same things they did on Nevermind, Nirvana opted for raw and uncompromising songs and production. I still think to this day that In Utero is Nirvana’s best studio album. One of the most poignant things Nirvana did in their career was the MTV Unplugged. Hearing those songs stripped down to the core, brought out a different side of Kurt and the band. If Kurt were still alive, I could see him doing acoustic tours and albums. Today is a day to look back and remember the music that helped to connect a generation and inspire so many.
Happy Birthday Kurt!
Here are my 10 favorite Nirvana songs (In No Particular Order):
03) All Apologies:
04) The Man Who Sold The World (David Bowie Cover):
I was talking to a friend the other day and during our conversation the subject of Nirvana came up. While in the midst of our talk, I began thinking of making this ultimate set list and the songs that would be on it. Let’s pretend for a moment that Kurt is still alive and he and Nirvana did what Guns N Roses did, one day they announce that they are getting back together for a tour. The following ultimate set list is what I’d love to hear and the appropriate order to pull it off.
What would be your Ultimate Nirvana Set List?
As usual here are the rules:
Rule 1: What line up of the band would it be
Rule 2: Where would you want to see the show
Rule 3: maximum 25 songs
Line up: Kurt Cobain, Dave Grohl, Krist Novaselic, Pat Smear
Venue: Forum in Los Angeles
02) Scentless Apprentice
03) Milk It
04) In Bloom
05) Heart Shaped Box
06) Rape Me
07) Serve The Servants
08) Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle
11) Pennyroyal Tea
12) Drain You
14) Negative Creep
15) Territorial Pissings
16) Stay Away
17) You Know You’re Right
19) Something In The Way (Just Kurt)
20) The Man Who Sold The World
21) All Apologies
1. James Hetfield- Metallica
2. Jerry Cantrell- Alice In Chains
3. Clint Lowery- Sevendust
4. Stephen Brodsky- Cave In
5. Ken Andrews- Failure
6. Scott Kelly- Neurosis
7. Eric Clapton
8. John Fogerty- Creedence Clearwater Revival
9. Dave Grohl- Foo Fighters
10. Neil Young
11. Chris Cornell- Soundgarden
12. Kurt Cobain- Nirvana
13. Brian Molko- Placebo
14. Josh Homme- Queens Of The Stone Age
15. Jimi Hendrix
16: Jim Ward- Sparta
17. Lou Reed
18. Billy Corgan- Smashing Pumpkins
19. Matt Talbott- Hum
There is a debate that has been going on for quite some time about Nirvana. There are many out there that consider Nevermind to be the holy grail of their brief catalog. Then there are those who hold In Utero in higher regard. I tend to fall in the In Utero camp. Not to take anything away from Nevermind, In Utero is just the better album in regards to the production, and songwriting. Sure “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” “Come As You Are,” “Lithium” and “Drain You” are all good songs. Those songs while meaningful just don’t connect as much as the ones on In Utero. There is more desperation anguish, and suffering in the In Utero songs. The production of the vocals really show that as well. Steve Albini’s engineering skills trump Butch Vig any day. Not to take anything away from Butch, his work on Smashing Pumpkins Siamese Dream, and all the Garbage albums are great. Nirvana just needed someone like Steve Albini to really get at the raw nature of the songs. Songs like “Scentless Apprentice,” “Heart Shaped Box,” “Rape Me,” “Milk It” and “Radio Friendly Unit Shifter” have that hard edged roar to them and the way they were produced really captures that demand to be noticed. The softer side of the album with songs like “Dumb,” “Pennyroyal Tea” and “All Apologies” embrace the very delicate nature of the band. The only song to really capture that on Nevermind was “Something In The Way.” The drums thump in more of a way that captures the true essence of how Dave Grohl plays. The bass sound has more of a dirty yet balanced sound that attaches itself to the rhythm in a clearer way. The guitars have more edge to them. They cut through the songs with an abrasive razor sharp dynamic. Vocally you can hear all of Kurt’s pain in every syllable he sings. His screams reach new heights since Steve Albini refused to double track Kurt’s vocals. It’s quite noticeable at the end of “Rape Me.” There is something else that has always bothered me about Nevermind. The way Nevermind turned out sort of has a very controlled production and compressed radio-friendly mix.That is something that is not very flattering to a rock band like Nirvana.
Granted this is all just my opinion, but I think this makes for a good debate. Sure we will never know what the next step for Nirvana would be. Though the indication of “You Know You’re Right” which was done by Adam Kasper shows that they were continuing in the direction that Steve Albini steered them in.