Stand Out Albums has been a showcase for my favorite albums across the vast performers that I love. Covering a little bit of everything from classic rock to country hits, much like Key Movies of My Life, it has been the albums that shaped me. This year, I am taking a slightly different approach by discussing the discographies of my favorite musicians, album by album, in release order.
Since we have already discussed one of my first loves in music, lets jump ahead 30 some odd years to a band than helped shape my modern taste in music while also inadvertently helping define an entire generation. The band is Nirvana and the album, Bleach.
Somewhat Ironically, this week also marks the 27th anniversary of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain’s death. I will never forget the day I heard of his passing from Kurt Loder on MTV news April 8, 1994, that day grunge essentially died.
Why This Album?
As I have mentioned in the past, before being introduced to Nirvana, I listened to mostly what my parents did. While they’re tastes were not bad as my father kept up with music pretty well, CCR, the Beatles, even REM and The Talking Heads out of the 80’s, I had yet to really develop my own musical identity.
There is a point in most everyone’s life where you begin to develop a taste for a specific genre or genre’s of whatever media you are into. It is almost a right of passage into adulthood signifying that you have reached a time in your life that you can begin making choices for yourself. This is especially true for the first born in a family as the only constant influence on their daily lives is their parents.
For me, it was some time in 1991 that I was handed a cassette by my good friend Grayson. Grayson and I had met via Boy Scouts and, as he lived fairly close by, I spent a lot of time at his house. One day, he handed me a small black tape entitled Bleach. The cover art was simple, black, white and silver, depicting photo a band mid jam. With the words ‘listen to this’ he ushered me into a world that I had been relatively oblivious to.
I wouldn’t be long before I became obsessed with Nirvana and everything they released. This was a band that resonated with me. This was the 90’s, I was a disaffected youth and the Grunge sound was exactly what I needed at the time. Soon I would find myself diving into the music of other bands such as Sound Garden, Tad, Mudhoney, Sonic Youth, Weezer and, of course, The Posies. While most people were introduced to Nirvana via their breakout hit album Nevermind, it was Bleach that cleared the way for me and my music revolution.
The album itself is a great first album. Produced for a reported $606.17 it is incredible how well produced and polished the final tracked came out to be. Every track revels in it’s sludgy guitar and raw lyrics. It is a time capsule for a time that remains of both personal and historical significance to music lovers everywhere.
That tape is long gone, having fallen out of my inexpensive walkman one night as I was walking with some friends. I retraced my steps as I discovered it missing but seeing it was night and the tape was jet black, my search yielded nothing. Of course I would later replace the cassette with a CD copy which added an additional two songs to the album, but I sometimes wonder whatever happened to that cassette and how that tape may have affected some other young kid in search of a new sound.
Negative Creep: To me, this is the sound of the album. It is intense, it is sludgy and man is it a blast. Kurt’s words resonate with a deep acceptance that he is the Negative Creep and, while repetitive in it’s lyrics, it has a power behind it that is intense.
Scoff: Opening to the simple drum stylings of Chad Channing, this one hints at things to come for the band that took the world by storm. It is an introspective song about addiction and acceptance but stripped down and distilled into a chugging rock song.
About a Girl: this is the track that really sold me. It is a departure from the rest that gives us a peak at the future this band would have. Kurt would later revisit this track in the 1993 performance of MTV Unplugged. It has remained a favorite of mine for many years and I imagine will for many years to come.
Ok, Where do I get it?
There is a wonderful remastered edition that was released a few years back. This has two discs and includes an early live concert as well. You can grab a copy here for less that $14 and it is well worth your time. Otherwise, Spotify?
Late to the Game 4/6/2020 (a version of this article was originally posted on 1/14/2020)
Thanks for reading, If you would like to read more reviews I have a weekly series called Key Movies Of My Life that comes out every Thursday and also check out some retro tv goodness with the ongoing series Retro TV Reviews here. You can also find a few of my other Music Reviews Here.
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