Friday, 8 June 2007



In many ways this was Year Zero for modern music but unfortunately by the end of the nineties all the good work that this bolt to the industry had done felt unravelled. Many would argue that the good work was undone many years before that. Others would question whether the impact was all that positive, if everything about the underground breaking into the mainstream was real in the first place. How much of the “breaking” of Nirvana (in both respects) was genuine and how much of it was PR hype? Were they just flavour of the month or were they with this record the real deal?

With the benefit of hindsight and seventeen plus years (fast heading towards twenty) I will concede that my passion for Nirvana was somewhat naïve and blinded but at the same time any band and record that opened my eyes to underground/alternative rock music and shaped my record collection (and thus my moods and opinions) is a very important thing. Very rarely was a band handed such a platform with which open the floodgates. Of course this was not down to them alone but they certainly assisted it.

To my ears the album still very much holds up but to the later generations (Generation Y) they have found themselves suckered into either the notion of Nirvana only having three songs or that the fucking imbeciles that followed, such as Bush, is what the band and its sound were about. Somehow over the years the band went from being an indie band to a metal and such perception has served as a detriment.

I always thought the strength of the album was the power of the non-singles tracks. The couplet of “Drain You” and “On A Plain” are two of the catchiest songs in the Nirvana cannon and the pace of “Lounge Act” is an exhilarating ride.

Obviously all the singles were killer, with “Come As You Are” and its Killing Joke “borrow” being the stand out of the four now with its bassline sounding so unique until you finally hear “Eighties”, as which point you hear the original as being only a pale imitation.

Bookending the record with “Polly” and “Something In The Way” I always thought was a mistake; even though the songs possessed powerful meanings they were death to the pace of the record. Thank god for “Endless Nameless” turning up after “Something In The Way” to blow away the curmudgeon.

Many say the Butch Vig production was too slick, too pop, too sell out but when needed it was there, it enhanced the greater pop moments even if it did trim and smooth the record’s jagged edges (Butch Vig is no Steve Albini). For years now there have been different versions of these songs circulating as demos, session tracks and live versions and always the strength of the songwriting has been what has shone through.

When I tell people that Nirvana are the most important band we will see in our generation they always scoff but at the end of the day I am right and they are wrong. So with this being their most successful album by default this makes this the most important album of our generation. Is that correct?

Thesaurus moment: fundamental.


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