Kurt Cobain: Vocals, Guitar
Krist Novoselic: Bass Guitar
(later of Sweet 75, Eyes Adrift)
Dave Grohl: Drums, Backing Vocals
(later of Foo Fighters, and working with Queens Of The Stone Age, Garbage, Probot, Tenacious D, Nine Inch Nails, etc...)
The artists who have had the most impact and gained the most respect out of the music community usually are backed up by a few lesser selling, or lesser recognized, acts, such is the case of Nirvana. Having bands like Soundgarden, Alice In Chains, and Pearl Jam crawling out of the primordial soup known as grunge, Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain has often been hailed as the king with Hole’s Courtney Love as his queen. As ambiguous as Nirvana’s kingship, considering its primarily decided by ones personal taste, “Nevermind” has gone down as one of the classic albums of rock and, coinciding, the entire music catalog. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” has become an anthem, and deemed as what finally killed off hair spray metal with sappy ballad after sappy ballad bands. Whether or not you are a fan of Nirvana, or anyone of the grunge scene, their impact is factual as what helped to lay the blueprint down for many musicians who didn’t have much of an outlet beforehand.
In April of 1994, Kurt Cobain was found dead. As the new millennium rolled around, Soundgarden had broken up, Alice In Chains’ Layne Staley was closing in on death, and Pearl Jam gave much of the media the middle finger and found contentment in making, for lack of a better word, “underground” albums. All that’s left now is the few albums Nirvana released, with the addition of odds and ends tracks scattered about, and a seemingly clean slate for anyone to come in and see what they were about. Like The Beatles’ “White Album”, like Led Zeppelin’s “IV”, or like The Ramones’ debut, Nirvana’s “Nevermind” is nestled securely among the “must-have” rock recordings of all time.
“Nevermind” opens up with “Smells Like Teen Spirt”, which planted them on the map and ironically is about what it became, jock fists raised to the air and swarms of mindless drones set to follow. Although it may not be their deepest song, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” has the pop appeal with the rebellious attitude that transcends the limits of genre to a universal attraction. Next is “In Bloom”, which is about gun tooting macho men who epitomize the line “he likes all our pretty songs...he likes to shoot his gun”. “In Bloom” carries many familiar Nirvana elements, for instance, distortion, feedback, and lyrics that often take an advanced mind to fully grasp the concept. Following the previous two tracks is “Come As You Are”, which takes a more melodic, watery turn. The verse guitar work was inspired by Killing Joke’s “Eighties”, but progresses to nothing short of a masterpiece. Following is yet another speaker busting punk testament with lyrics that showcase Nirvana’s individuality, despite if numerous bands have tried to copy the sound since then, titled “Breed”. Dave Grohl’s unique and powerful drum style is in full swing with this one, and Kurt’s signature scream radiates as ever. “Lithium” is line after line of quote worthiness like “Light my candle in a daze because I’ve found god” and “I’m so happy because today I’ve found my friends, they’re in my head”. “Lithium”, like “Come As You Are”, has a watery vive to it, and like the same, goes into pounding rock. If there was one thing that Nirvana never sacrificed, it would be melody. No matter what they did, Nirvana was on the mark and cut the fat off of glitzy self-absorbed corporate machines, evident throughout every strand of “Nevermind”. As it continues with the acoustic “Polly”, which is about a kidnaping, the fast angst ridden “Territorial Pissings”, which starts off with Krist screaming part of an old “hippy” song, and the roller coaster ride to its conclusion with the haunting “Something In The Way”, “Nevermind” sums up the true punk movement of the Sex Pistols, to the finest bands to have their heyday in the 90's, and to put to shame the so-called “next big thing” series of today who, as apposed to Nirvana, don’t have anything authentic to say.
On foreign versions of the album, “Nevermind” closes with “Endless Nameless”, which is a long and cryptic sounding jam that almost sets the stage for their weird “Incesticide” rarities album that was released a year after.
“Nevermind” was Nirvana’s most polished effort, but a far range from their raw debut “Bleach” and their somber, surpassing, follow-up “In Utero”. A lot of plaque has been given to Nirvana for this album, which is understandable considering everything that gains widespread attention becomes subject to abuse, wrongful or not. If you listen to this album with the mind state to downsize everything about it, you won’t like it and will probably go around with your chin up for awhile. If you listen to it with an open mind, you’ll come to at least appreciate the complexities in even the simplest power chord songs on the album and you’ll probably make sure you have the cd case out so all your friends will be sure to see it when they come over. To anyone who doesn’t have any Nirvana albums, “Nevermind” is a good place to start considering their other albums may take more time to get hooked on you.
Smells Like Teen Spirit
Come As You Are