Seattle sound’s second coming
WHEN Nevermind unwittingly turned Nirvana from a cult alt-rock band into generational spokesmen, no one was ready for it. Not singer-songwriter Kurt Cobain, not his band mates and certainly not their record label, which printed a paltry first run of 46,251 copies that sold out in the blink of an eye.
History tells us Nevermind went on to sell more than 30 million units. That will climb even higher with this new, multiformat 20th anniversary reissue.
If ever there was an album that didn’t need remastering – louder, punchier – it’s this one, but that’s what fans will find on disc one of the deluxe edition.
Nevermind ’ s sizzling guitars, thunderclap drums, slinky bass, gruff vocals and manic energy sound as thrilling today as they did in 1991.
The album has no flat spots, every song is vital – from the low-key creepiness of Polly to the agitated rock of Lithium to the balls-to-the-wall thrashing, shouty mosh of Territorial Pissings.
The slithering, liquid bass line on Come As You Are thrills, the sombre, spooky Something in the Way will make the hair on your neck stand up, and of course there is the angst-ridden power of their teen anthem Smells Like Teen Spirit, a song that ranks highly on almost every best-ever list.
What made Nevermind resonate with fans was its honesty and integrity. Punkbased music had only a small foothold in the rock spectrum before Nevermind.
And after, the album all but killed off hair, metal and glam rock acts such as Guns N’ Roses, Warrant or Motley Crue, who had ruled the roost.
Whether you can stomach the words ‘‘ Seattle’’ and ‘‘ grunge’’ or not, there’s no arguing this landmark album changed the course of rock music.
It also displaced Michael Jackson’s album Dangerous at number one, giving pop music a punch in the guts to boot.
For Nirvana nerds who already own a copy or two of Nevermind, there are good reasons to invest in this package.
There are B-sides, crude boom-box demos and live recordings to digest.
There are also the original preNevermind recordings by producer Butch Vig that were used to snare major label attention.
It’s fascinating to hear how the songs evolved from raw messiness into polished, radio-ready rock ’ n’ roll.
Witnessing the transformation from Pay to Play into Stay Away or Immodium into Breed is great fun for music geeks.
These early tapes also show the work Cobain put into his lyrics, disproving the common misconception that he treated a song’s words as only a mumbled afterthought.
The Devonshire Mixes are the version of the songs that Vig and the band produced before Andy Wallace tweaked it. More geeky fodder.