For this one, I'm going back in 1989, I was only ten at
that time but already insane in the brain. These were the good old days, the
days of being wild as would say some years later the fantastic band ...And You
Will Know Us by the Trail Of Dead. 1989, in addition to my tenth birthday sees
the release of "Bleach" the first album by Nirvana. I mean the real
Nirvana, before the horrible sound of "Nevermind" and their mainstream
explosion. I don't spit on "Nevermind", it has wonderful songs, but
the fact is that I don't like to listen to it because of its sound. It's a
shame, blame Buch Vig. Even "Bleach" sounds better nowadays...
As incredible as it may be, you can hear real solos performed here by Mr 20 fingers Cobain, ok, it's far from being something close to Metallica (cf. the review of Kill 'Em All, I like to relate to what I did before, it gives more strength to what I write), but it's efficient.
One of the main reason why I like this album is probably because it is undeniably deeply rooted in metal. Cobain was a big fan of Black Sabbath and Black Flag and you can feel it here more than on any other record they've made. But rather than doing a copy of one these two bands, Cobain adds an extra ingredient, his pop side coupled with his amazing voice. I know this last sentence sounds a bit like an Italian recipe, sorry, I can't help it.
The album opens with "Blew", and what strikes
immediatly is the heaviness and the roughness of the sound. Apparently, the heaviness is due to a mistake, someone pushed the bass-boost switch and they
didn't realize it until the end of the recording.
The second song is "Floyd The Barber". In this song, Cobain tells us about a dream he had one night, seating in the barber's armchair, getting his throat slashed open, nice dream.
The third song is the proof of Cobain's talent in songwriting. "About A Girl" is a song about the girl he was going out with at the time. It's poppy and it's brilliant. It was popularized later on thanks to the MTV Unplugged they recorded a short time before Cobain's suicide.
Fourth song is "School". Once again, a metal riff coupled with a pop feeling, implacable. The lyrics are what they are, it must be noticed that most of the lyrics to the songs were written in the car while going to the studio. "Music comes first" as Cobain used to say.
"Love Buzz" is a cover, originally interpreted by Shocking Blue. The reason for that surprising cover is that Novoselic was a fan of "Venus", the biggest hit of the band, and he suggested Cobain to do a cover of the band, thinking that he would choose "Venus". You know the end of the story.
"Paper Cuts" is the sixth track. A metal beginning where Chad Smith The Great can express himself thanks to a wonderful drum pattern. A song about masturbating blue eyes and a guy being fed through a door. You can hear Cobain saying Nirvana in the chorus. As I have told you above, the lyrics were not the the main concern of Cobain.
Seventh song is "Negative Creep", probably the forerunner of "I Hate Myself And I Want To Die". A minimalist metal riff based on two slides on the power chords, and a huge scream in the middle of the song. It's the only Nirvana song ending in a fade out, why? I don't know... maybe out of laziness. I can remember Cobain saying that he hated songs finishing in fade out, for him it was a lack of imagination. Well, it only happened once, probably caused by a lack of drugs, you're forgiven, wherever you are.
"Scoff", the eighth song, starts with another amazing drum pattern, thank you Chad it's probably your first and last recording but you have given everything you had. Strange chorus "Give back my alcohol", a good bridge, a bit dark, the song is in the average of the album.
Number nine, "Swap Meet", is one of my favorites. Good guitar riff obtained thanks to a very high gain on the distorsion, Cobain has a very good voice and sings in a loose way. I particularly like the verse "She loves him more than she would ever know".
"Mr Moustache" is number ten, and it doesn't deal with a physical particularity of some people in Southern Europe. "Yes I eat cow, I am not proud" was Cobain foretelling the mad-cow disease? He's the only one to know...
"Sifting" is the next song, a dark song with a strange atmosphere, a feeling of doom. Probably the most heavy on the album.
"Big Cheese" is my second favourite, the lyrics mean nothing at all, the music is really good and I have just noticed that they have used a flanger effect in some parts of the song, you have to listen carefully to notice it... so many years listening to it without knowing , I can even remember when I learned to play it on my guitar, playing over and over again until my fingers hurt.
The thirteenth and last song is "Downer", the only political song they've made, with lyrics comparing communists to apocalyptic bastards. You can also find it on "Incesticide".
The line up for this record is Kurt Cobain, guitar and voice, Chris Novoselic, bass, Chad Smith, drums and Jason Everman, guitar. Everman, like Scarlet O'Hara, didn't play on the record, but he was the one who paid for the recordings, something like $600 if my memory is trustworthy. The others never paid back.
Thanks to Cobain's genius, none of these songs can be compared to "Sufragette City". I don't like this title, it sounds very bad and I don't like this song even though I've never heard it.
The picture at the back of the cover was taken after a gig, and we can see that Cobain has already started his game of jumping in the drumkit at the end of the show. Chad was always worried for his drumkit, and that's one of the reason why the pendejo (excuse my Spanish...) was fired without any snowy tears, allowing Dave Grohl and his gluttony for success to lead Nirvana to the top.
Two years later, in 1991, they released "Nevermind" and nearly made The Smashing Pumpkins bite their "Bullet With Butterfly Wings" as they were issuing their first record entitled "Gish".
PS: This has nothing to do with the above, but I have to say it. A wise man one day said "Structure and form are nothing but a straight line", I'm pretty sure he wasn't really thinking what he was saying.
/nov 1st 2003/