Picture of Nirvana


Nirvana - Bleach ©1989 SubPop
1. Blew
2. Floyd The Barber
3. About A Girl
4. School
5. Love Buzz
6. Paper Cuts
7. Negative Creep
8. Scoff
9. Swap Meet
10. Mr. Moustache
11. Sifting
12. Big Cheese
13. Downer

The band that single-handedly threw the early 90s aristocratic rock status quo on its head, down the stairs and into a corner was, in 1988, a mere embryonic pod of what was to be. Vestiges of the Indie-rock marque Scratch Acid (which would later morph into the Jesus Lizard) are obvious, Cobain being a fan, and not the least which are the sloppy arrangements and almost drunk vocal affectations. Choppy and angular like the Lizard, but nowhere near as difficult to digest, Cobain really showing what amazing things can be done with a few chords, a benevolent vocal-line and a fistful of meth. The drumming is imaginative, loose, but riddled with mistakes and miscues. This is, however, more of an observation than a complaint as the entire experience is one of normative revolt (the vocal melody of "About a Girl" notwithstanding) bubbling beneath the surface, ready to upstage the air-brushed Hollyhead folks with the purse strings (hey, don't we need that NOW?). Catchy, simple, bruising punk not without the impact only studied metal can provide (Sabbath, oh yes) which repels as much as it draws you in; "Blew", "School" and "Scoff" are feedback infested ditties, broken and angry, but lovably melodic, a microcosm of the album's entirety. Which essentially quantifies early Nirvana; the Bay City Rollers stumbling around in the dark, humming Leadbelly tunes, with Sabbath looping from the scuzzy apartment window from across the street. Or something like that. Nirvana and Bleach are, nonetheless, entirely worthy of their respective places in rock history.

Review by Lee Steadham

Review date: 03/1999

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Smells Like Teen Spirit [Single]

Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit Single ©1991 Geffen
1. Smells Like Teen Spirit
2. Even In His Youth
3. Aneurysm

I think we all know the story of this song unless you have spent the entire decade in a tightly sealed cave armed only with 80's reject music like Laura Branigan. I also believe that you, like me, have probably heard this song more times on the radio and blaring out of dorm rooms than absolutely necessary. Too many good songs are destroyed by oversaturation on the radio and this is an example of that. Regardless, Nirvana did accidentally kickstart an entire new focus for mainstream music in the 90's, which thankfully showed the door to "artists" like MC Hammer, Vanilla Ice and any number of truly horrendous polished money making machines that were dominating the sales charts. Nirvana was really nothing special, just an aggressive rock band influenced by punk and indie rock from all over. Cobain had a healthy talent for writing the kind of riffs that stuck with you like a Jolly Rancher candy in your teeth. Too bad he was unable to enjoy his accidental success. The two non-album tracks on this single aren't anything overly special. Just basic angst-ridden guitar rock drenched in distortion and uneventful feedback. Yet it's intriguing that an entire legion of bands made themselves carbon copies of the Nirvana formula. That's what success will do.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 04/1999

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Come As You Are [Single]

Nirvana - Come As You Are Single ©1991 Geffen
1. Come As You Are
2. Endless, Nameless
3. School (live)
4. Drain You (live)

One of the other famous singles from Nirvana's Nevermind, Come As You Are is actually one of my favorite Nirvana tunes that coupled a quiet yet mildly haunting guitar picking pattern with the usual Nirvana bluster. You can say what you want about Nirvana's success or Kurt Cobain's skill level, but he could write a song that even close to a decade later is still very good. Import versions of this digipack also include the noise freakout "Endless Nameless", which is the hidden track on Nevermind. The final two tracks are live renditions of "School" and "Drain You", which harken back to the Bleach era when the band was more raw than anything else. All in all, not a bad little single.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 05/1999

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