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Nirvana
Albums

  • Bleach,
  • Nevermind,
  • Incesticide,
  • In Utero,
  • Unplugged In New York








  • Adrian's Album Reviews |

    Nirvana

    Bleach ( 1989 )
    Blew / Floyd The Barber / About A Girl / School / Love Buzz / Paper Cuts / Negative Creep / Scoff / Swap Meet / Mr Moustache / Sifting / Big Cheese / Downer

    Nirvana's roots lay in the underground scene. Sonic Youth were early mentors, 'Surfer Rosa' by The Pixies a big personal favourite of singer/guitarist Kurt Cobain. Krist Novoselic met Kurt Cobain in 1985, Nirvana were formed in 1987 with Chad Channing on drums and they soon signed to Sub Pop records. 'Bleach' was produced and engineered by Jack Endino, a guy who was experienced in the underground scene, ending up producing the likes of Tad, Mudhoney and Babes In Toyland. Nirvana's debut doesn't deviate radically from the sound the likes of Mudhoney were achieving at the time, although a song like 'About A Girl' certainly had a poppier edge than anything many of Nirvana's contemporaries were producing. 'About A Girl' is a wonderful song actually, and a signpost of what was to come later. First we have two loud, distorted pieces of guitar music, growled or semi-shouted vocals. 'Blew' is nothing to write home about, 'Floyd The Barber' has good dynamics and works well. Following those two songs, 'About A Girl' stands out a mile, a lovely melody and vocal performance. 'School' has an addictive sounding, dirty guitar riff and a very powerful, screamed vocal performance. 'Love Buzz' had actually been a very early Nirvana single, but it doesn't sound very out of place here, the bass guitar is good and the screamed 'chorus' rather entertaining! 'Paper Cuts' opens messily, a weary, pissed off Kurt comes in but the song never really goes anywhere and is less interesting than songs before it on the album.

    'Negative Creep' opens the second side of the album with a fabulous guitar and bass riff, wonderful 'alternative anthem' style lyrics, screamed, stupendous vocals. With 'About A Girl' and maybe 'School' this works as a highlight of the record and really, is what 'Bleach' is all about. Another great guitar groove opens 'Scoff', 'Swap Meet' has more dirty riffing guitars - you get the idea. 'Swap Meet' is actually a favourite of mine, but there you go. 'Mr Moustache' is a thrashy, messy kind of song, 'Sifting' more considered, 'Big Cheese' slightly daft, but highly entertaining all the same. 'Downer' ends the album with more of the same, more grunge guitars, more screaming. 'About A Girl' apart, the album suffers from a lack of variety, suffers from the same sound being used all over the record. Having said that, this album is very easy to listen to if you like this kind of music.

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    Readers Comments

    R.Vandana rvan@rediffmail.com
    Paper cuts is the best on the album. Perhaps I haven't heard about a girl enough.

    Monterey MJCheezz@hotmail.com
    Paper Cuts is my favorite on the album too.. About a Girl is great don't get me wrong but Paper Cuts is much more emotional and all... makes me shiver just listening to it.

    Aidan john_do@hotmail.com
    Yo adrian, u dont know nothing about Bleach, it is the best nirvana albumn u turd for hire, plus love buzz is a cover song, and u didnt include that very important fact in your shitty review. Geez man, its Nirvana! Take a bit of time to think before u write shite about them u asshole!! GO FUCK A DUCK!!HAHA

    Ray jb_4497@hotmail.com
    Nirvana's album Bleach broke out in '89 into an era of over poppy commercialised garbage. It forever changed the face of rock and took over what we have all come to know as new wave! As the founder of new wave...I think it is only fair that this band be paid tribute...the rating of 7.5 is simply not fair. Sure...some songs were just were a little off key at times...but at the end of it...the entire compilation of songs on that founding album just flowed so beautifully. Thus, 7.5 is just a crying shame....

    Logan king_tobo@hotmail.com
    Seems to me like you're more into the produced, perfectly on key, perfect recording side of Nirvana. The true beauty of Nirvana was that they didn't need to sound perfect, they could put out a poorly recorded album and it could rock the boat of popular music with it's great song writing and Kurt's emotional singing. Personally my favorite Nirvana recordings are the bootleg type ones that got released. The best part of Nirvana was thier imperfection, which is what made this album a true grunge album to remember.


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    Nevermind 9 ( 1991 )
    Smells Like Teen Spirit / In Bloom / Come As You Are / Breed / Lithium / Polly / Territorial Pissings / Drain You / Lounge Act / Stay Away / On A Plain / Something In The Way

    Enter David Grohl on drums, exit Chad Channing, say hello to Geffen records. Nirvana signed to Geffen because of Sonic Youth, that's it. If they had to sign to a major, Geffen seemed ok for Sonic Youth, so Nirvana reason it should be OK for them. The production team of Butch Vig and Andy Wallace 'tidied' up the sound of the early Nirvana circa 'Bleach', but new drummer Dave Grohl was a far better, louder and more dynamic performer than Chad Channing. Nirvana live concerts had attracted Geffen Records attention in the first place. Kurt wanted the group to be popular, and could see them maybe selling as many records as Sonic Youth. 'Territorial Pissings' was considered for a single release, but it was put to them 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' might make for a better choice. The rest was, as they say, history. 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' transformed the underground scene, groups like Mudhoney, even Tad were suddenly being signed by major labels, 'Grunge' was well and truly born and 'Nevermind' eventually knocked Michael Jackson off the top of the album charts. That was seen as slightly significant..... 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' itself is actually nothing other similar groups hadn't done before. Kurt himself was actually unsure about the song, considering it's structure too similar the songs by The Pixies in particular. For whatever reason though, it was Nirvana not The Pixies who would make the breakthrough. 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' was huge, but never the best song on this album. 'In Bloom' is better, clever lyrically certainly. And then we have the guitar that runs through 'Come As You Are' and it's great stuff, especially Kurt's guitar solo.

    'Breed' is as raw and thrilling as anything from 'Bleach' in terms of sound, the bass groove is fabulous, everything is fast and Kurt screams as if his life depended on it. We still have a melodic chorus, the melody thing had been with Nirvana right from the start though, witness 'About A Girl'. 'Lithium' became another big single, with a great 'yeah, yeah, yeaaeahahh' chorus. 'Polly' revealed a previously unimagined softer side of the group, just Kurt and acoustic guitar for the most part. A lovely song, though. 'Territorial Pissings' is back to the more demented Nirvana sound of their earlier work with fuzzy, distorted guitars, absolutely amazing drumming, fabulous throat splitting vocals from Kurt. A wonderful song. 'Drain You' is one of my own personal favourites on the album, certainly a less celebrated song than much of the first half, but there is something simple about this, certainly it's a more straightforward song production and mixing wise. I like the melody, I love Kurt's vocal. It's as simple as that. 'Lounge Act' is a weaker song on the record, 'Stay Away' back to the furious drumming and groovy bass parts. More Kurt Cobain screaming, and this is an enjoyable song. 'On A Plain' does nothing the rest of the album already hasn't, and can get trying at times although the chorus still has a mighty big hook stuck all through it. Perhaps the most remarkable song on 'Nevermind' isn't 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' although that was certainly the most important song here. The closing 'Something In The Way' has a semi-mumbled, weary Kurt vocal, a lovely, beautiful melody notable for a haunting Cello running through the chorus. It's a great song, simple as that.

    A great album, not as great as some would have you believe, not as BAD as those complaining that the singles from this record are played on MTV and the radio so often as to reach the point of throwing up if you hear 'In Bloom' just one more time. This is now an omni-present all time classic of rock in terms of status. It's never going to go away.

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    Readers Comments

    Jes25689@aol.com
    I'll give it a 9. It has perhaps the greatest side one[or side "A". I dunno, I don't own the LP ever, but "lounge act" and "stay away" aren't too good. The b-side "even in his youth" would have been an excellent addition to the album. "Drain you" is probably my favorite non-single cut.

    Monterey MJCheezz@hotmail.com
    Whoa...only a 9?? Every single song on here is complete genius and I love them all. I would give this nothing less than a 10.. more like an 11 for me.

    Jay LewisDontJump@aol.com
    I don't get this album! I love the singles and Territorial Pissings, Breed, Polly, and Drain You are awesome but dammit i just get BORED of it! It wants to be Doolittle, but Doolittle mixed it up a bit! Dammit, everyone needs to realize In Utero is a work of sheer genius and Nevermind pales in comparison. Actually probably i'm just sick of hearing Teen Spirit on the radio. Good album, 7/10.
    Stephen Gallagher steviejg2002@yahoo.co.uk
    Aye, it is a classic. Kurt Cobain carries off the Pixies song structure very well (as was his ambition, IIRC?) and underlies it more than enough angst to appeal to yer average discontent adolescent. With less shouting about aliens (and also less innovation than Mr. Kitteridge, if I may blaspheme).

    siegfrid siegfrid010101@yahoo.com
    Similarly honest albums were heard around that time by the dozen. It was very funny that this new "Guns and Roses" rock-for-the-many ended up as work of "genius" whithin a few days... I pray to see what a boring and forgotten act Nirvana would have ended up had KC lived...

    John, County Kildare john.j.doyle@nuim.ie
    Nothing less than a perfect 10 from this cat. It's taken me a *LONG LONG* time to realise just how revolutionary, and downright sensational this album was/is/always will be. The "London Calling" and "Stone Roses" of the 1990s, and indeed, beyond. Easily one of the all-time masterpieces of music, art, and culture.


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    Incesticide 7 ( 1992 )
    Dive / Sliver / Stain / Been a Son / Turnaround / Molly's Lips / Son of a Gun / (New Wave) Polly / Beeswax / Downer / Mexican Seafood / Hairspray Queen / Aero Zeppelin / Big Long Now / Aneurysm

    This release collects together many of the songs recorded between Bleach and Nevermind, adds in some radio sessions and early demos, and there you have it. So, yeah. Some of the songs are 'Bleach' type songs, some are sub-bleach, so distorted and messy as to be virtually un-listenable. Others, like 'Sliver' quite clearly point the way forward to the pop/grunge mix that would be used so effectively through 'Nevermind'. The opening 'Dive' is a fine song, better than at least half of 'Bleach'. 'Sliver' somedays is my favourite Nirvana song, it's just got everything. Screamed vocals, softer vocals, melodic guitars, loud angry guitars. What more do you want? And, it's only two-minutes long! Marvel at the concise nature of it all! Sing to the chorus! Scream along with Kurt!! It's fun! OK, enough. 'Stain' is sub-bleach, 'Been A Son' more 'Nevermind'. 'Turnaround' and 'Molly's Lips'  both enjoyable cover versions, 'Molly's Lips' especially so.

    Nothing on the album so far, 'Sliver' apart could be ranked as essential Nirvana listening. This isn't that kind of release, it was put out to serve a purpose. That purpose was partly to cash in on the explosion of Nirvana fans following 'Nevermind', partly to give fans the chance to complete their Nirvana collections. So, there's nothing really wrong with the concept of this album, just sometimes something wrong with the execution, and songs as dire as 'Aero Leppelin' and 'Big Long Now' in particular. On the other hand, 'Beeswax' and 'Mexican Seafood' are both enjoyable punk type songs, wonderful vocals on 'Mexican Seafood' in particular. The closing 'Aneurysm' was recorded for a BBC radio session during the 'Nevermind' era. It sounds magnificent.

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    Readers Comments

    Tom tomtoocool2065@yahoo.com
    I think this is a pretty good album, I absolutely love Bleach and I think it's easily one of the greatest albums of the last 20 years. Nirvana changed sounds after Bleach, and if you want some more of those sounds, get this album. The most confusing thing about this whole album is 'Silver', which is just about the most overrated song ever. It's about getting dropped off at your grandpa's house and wanting your grandma to take you back home. Don't forget to sing the end chorus about 50 times, it goes like this "Grandma take me home, grandma take me home." Anyone could make up a song like this in a few seconds. Normally I would just let it go, but I haven't even heard of someone like me who has absolutely no clue why this is a huge fan favorite.


    In Utero ( 1993 )
    Serve The Servants / Scentless Apprentice / Heart-Shaped Box / Rape Me / Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle / Dumb / Very Ape / Milk It / Pennyroyal Tea / Radio Friendly Unit Shifter / Tourette's / All Apologies

    Kurt hires legendary noise maker Steve Albini to produce the follow up to 'Nevermind' and Geffen get worried. So much so, several songs were ultimately re-mixed by the 'Nevermind' production team, much to the disgust of Steve Albini himself. Going into the sessions for this album, it seems Kurt wanted a much rawer, more spontaneous sound that had appeared on 'Nevermind', but that following recording, with everyone telling him the album was 'un-commercial', he got cold feet or something. Anyway, the re-mixed songs aren't glaringly out of place or anything, in fact, it's not obvious which one's they even are, they flow into the course of the album very well. First, and rather underwhelming single 'Heart Shaped Box' was one of the re-mixed songs. It hardly matters, the opening 'Serve The Servants' is stupendous and 'Scentless Apprentice' very clearly bearing the influence of Steve Albini in the bass and drum sound. Kurt screams and screams through the song, and it's a thrill when he does, a fantastic performance. 'Rape Me' rather mischievously opens with the 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' riff, but when Kurt starts singing, your jaw drops open. 'Rape Me'? This is provocative stuff, it's also a truly fantastic song with another impassioned vocal performance. Another great song arrives with 'Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle' and things are looking particularly great for this 'In Utero' album, 'Heart Shaped Box' and the 'Polly' re-tread 'Dumb' included.

    The second side of the album opens with the kind of primitive riffing punk thrash that would have sat quite easily on 'Bleach'. 'Very Ape' is pretty good though, 'Milk It' rather strange but Kurt screams very well. Nobody could scream quite like Kurt Cobain, another Pixies influence brought into Nirvana, obviously. 'Pennyroyal Tea' has lyrics that sound like they were made up in the studio just prior to recording, and the whole song sounds strained and like it's about to collapse, but not in an enjoyable way. This is very difficult listening. 'Radio Friendly Unit Shifter' isn't so great either, although the Punk thrash of 'Tourette's' is an exhilarating, brilliant ride. 'All Apologies' closes the album, closes it well. This was one of the songs re-mixed, but it's a fabulous song in any case, another wonderful vocal performance. 'In Utero' survived an initial media back-lash to become recognized as another important and more importantly, great, album by the group. For me, there are a couple of songs here that probably shouldn't have been, that prevent this quite reaching the heights of 'Nevermind'. This is still a damn fine album, though.

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    Readers Comments

    Jeremy Brendan mac_abre@yahoo.com
    Difficult listening? Please explain, Adrian. I mean, read the lyrics and tell me if it fits with the rest of the songs on "In Utero". "Sit and drink pennyroyal tea / Distill the life thatís inside of me / Sit and drink pennyroyal tea / Iím anemic royalty". He could be commenting on the pain of celebrity for someone with true moral sense, or maybe just musing about abortion & how his mother should have used birth control in the first place. I think that this is one of the cornerstones of the whole album and it could have made a fine single, if the dwarves who fucked with Steve Albini's production hadn't put their stubby fingers into the mix.

    Monterey MJCheezz@hotmail.com
    After I found Nevermind in my dad's old CD case, well what can i say- I found the best band in the entire world. I figured after Nevermind I should buy In Utero, as one of my friends suggested. And Wow... with the exception of one or two songs I can listen to this album over and over and over again all the way through. Dumb, All Apologies, Heart-Shaped Box, Very Ape, Milk It, and Rape me are my favorites. But amazingly I really like Pennyroyal Tea, mush to the surprise of many people. I would actually give In Utero a 9.

    brian badger@gregory1972.fsnet.co.uk
    I bought this the day it came out and I still love it! Serve The Servants and Scentless Apprentice are a bit throw away for me, but Heart Shaped Box is superb and Milk it is my favourite track overall,awesome song. Overall this album lends itself to repeated listening more than Nevermind.I'd give it a 9

    Mark Mark190271@yahoo.com
    I did persevere with "Nevermind" but it just didn't cut it for me. This album is very powerful and requires you're full attention. Hard work tinged with sadness.......

    bobby joe taylor7061@hotmail.com
    hey great reveiw but "rape me" doesnt open with the "smells like teen spirit" chords. it does sound like it but listen to the begginin of rape me and then smells like teen spirit and u will find they are different. or u cood just know that SLTS chords are: F5,Bb5,G#5, and C#5... rape me chords are: Am, C5, Em, G5... just had to clear that up but fgreat reveiw. 8/10

    skip brutalli_honest@hotmail.com
    pennyroyal tea is amazing, and so is heartshaped box, i cant believ u slag them both off,i read all the reviews of albums i consider, in particular ur manson ones, but im dissapointed, nirvan got me into music, and in utero is their best album! penny roayl tea is great, it just shows the pain that drug addiction brought to kurt,a nd heart shaoed box is a brillaint twisted love song about the woman kurt was infatuated with: courtney love, they are both classics and show an insight inot kurt, i know he nplayed down the meanings in his lyrics, but i doint believ it, the unplugged pennyroyal tea is fukin awesome

    peter frydman peterfrydman@blueyonder.co.uk
    Generally i agree with what you have said about in utero, rape me is one of the best and catchiest songs on the album. However,next to "milk it" "RFUS" has to be one of my favorite songs from that album. I love the riff to it and the drum-fest outro which builds to an amazing crescendo. Beautiful feedback and the bridge is so musically brilliant. This song is about Kurt giving back all the negative thoughts and statments the media say about him."What is wrong with me? What do i think of me" This is one of Nirvana's best distortion based songs. Like most people you don't get this song, i suggest you listen to it a few more times and re-evalulate your opinion of this amazing song.

    gazza garyhess44@hotmail.com
    You know albini must hold the world record for ruining major artists work - mainly because theyre looking for an alternative to mainstream production values and go right up the wrong avenue to albini . Not only did he turn polly harveys raw sex blues into a monotonous sludge, and the skewed originality of surfer rosa sounds like it was recorded in a phone box - here the record is saved by cobains amazing vocals . A cursory listen to the live verrsions of the songs shows how great in utero should have been . Basically albini puts the drum sound at the centre of the sound picture killing any bass response completely - page and plant discovered that he couldnt record guitars properly after he ruined their album too. 2 of the songs were remixed by scott litt but really the whole thing should have been rerecorded , something david grohl has alluded to in interviews since.

    tim dracojfg@aol.com
    You think Pennroyal Tea sucks? Everytime I ever bought a CD I came here to see what you said about it. Now, I'm never coming to this site ever again.


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    Unplugged In New York 8 ( 1994 )
    About A Girl / Come As You Are / Jesus Doesn't Want Me For A Sunbeam / The Man Who Sold The World / Pennyroyal Tea / Dumb / Polly / On A Plain / Something In The Way / Plateau / Oh Me / Lake Of Fire / All Apologies / Where Did You Sleep Last Night

    Geffen did release this album after Kurt Cobain's death, but could hardly be accused of milking the Nirvana catalogue. Things have gotten even more complicated since, but this isn't the place to get into Courtney vs. Novoselic and Grohl! There were plenty of misunderstanding souls pleasantly surprised by Nirvana's Unplugged appearance. That you could strip away the noise, the loudness and be left with..... a set of very fine songs. That's it! 'About A Girl' sounds as lovely as ever, but then, that always WAS a lovely song. 'Come As You Are' fares especially well in its new stripped back incarnation, but that was it as far as Nirvana playing the hits was concerned. The rest of the set includes some strange and occasionally beautiful cover versions. In the beautiful camp we have 'Jesus Doesn't Want Me For A Sunbeam' and the David Bowie song 'The Man Who Sold The World' which is absolutely a highlight here. Both of those songs and performances are very emotional, actually. 'Pennyroyal Tea' sounds as tired and strained as it always did, which leaves me to believe the song sucks, simple as that. 'Dumb' and 'Polly' don't sound radically different here, 'On A Plain' sounds wonderful though, better than the 'Nevermind' version, for me.

    'Something In The Way' is a straight run through of the closing song from 'Nevermind', 'Lake Of Fire', 'Oh Me' and 'Plateau' covers that work in varying the set. And, this album ends magnificently with a storming Kurt performance with 'All Apologies' and a haunting 'Where Did You Sleep Last Night' that's full of such passion and pain it's almost difficult to listen to, but always giving you something when you do. Before Kurt died, it was rumoured he was to collaborate with Michael Stipe, that the next Nirvana album proper would take from this 'Unplugged' set in being a new direction for the group. It was going to be fascinating watching Nirvana develop, but sadly, tragically, that was never going to happen.

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    Readers Comments

    Jes25689@aol.com
    I'd give it a 10. The intensity of this CD is just astonishing, and the songs Nirvana chose to record was a master stroke. "Where did you sleep last night", "lake of fire", and "about a girl" are the highlights for me.

    Jason Motell JMOTELL@stny.rr.com
    On your "Ratings At A Glance" page you say an album that receives an 8 is "Flawed, but still very good." And strangely enough, that is an excellent analysis of this entire album, but to me an 8 is just not good enough. Overall, it is without a doubt, flawed--but taken as a whole this is a remarkable achievement. So much emotion in the originals and the Meat Puppets covers are truly great (better than the Puppets themselves). I don't know...This album is better than Nevermind to me and it just leaves me wanting more. I'd give it an 8 1/2, at least.

    Mimichiou tomlock@caramail.com
    In my opinion, slightly underrated. This record shows the band on an unexpected side that is filled with sadness. A kind of pre-death testimony... And the Puppets cover are truly great. 8 1/2 to me.

    gazza garyhess44@hotmail.com
    A new dimension to the band was shown here and frustratingly we will never know what a more acoustic based nirvana album would sound like . Judging from these stripped down versions and interpretations of others material it would have been amazing - especially if they had worked with scott litt for example .


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    this page last updated 14/10/08


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