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. Last week we discussed Bleach, this week Nevermind.
Why This Album?
As we discussed last week, while 1991 was the year I was introduced to Nirvana, it was not through the album everyone else found this band through. It was their first album, Bleach, and to me that was a game changer. Almost immediately I tracked down a copy of this, the album that nearly everyone was listening to, and dove in head first.
While Bleach was a more sludgy and unrefined version of the band, Nevermind gave us a more produced and cohesive version of this burgeoning Seattle band. Adding David Grohl on drums, his power drumming took the band to new heights giving them an intensity that they had been lacking prior. To be honest, it is very difficult to discuss this album as it has become such an iconic piece of modern music and contains tracks that nearly every person on Earth has heard at least once. While many jumped on the Nirvana band wagon only to leave for other sonic delights, Nirvana, to me, was more of the gateway drug leading me to realize that there was much more out there than just the music my parents liked. Bleach and Nevermind broke that for me, inviting me to explore the bands that were emerging in the 90’s that I still appreciate and love to this very day.
Even today, listening to the remastered deluxe edition of this album, I am amazed at how incredibly cohesive that this three piece ‘grunge’ band was. There is a certain alchemy to the combination of Kurt Cobain’s lyrics and voice, Kris Noveselic’s deep bass lines and, of course, the intensity of Dave Grohl’s drums. Even today, playing this album on modern equipment via Spotify or even on CD, there is a beautiful clarity to Kurt’s slightly mumbled lyrics as they blend with the rest of the music. Songs such as Come As You Are and Drain You still resonate to this day taking me right back to my plaid wearing days in a southwest Texas town hanging out with my now Brother-in-law Grayson, listening to this band and so many others that followed. I question anyone who claims there is no such a thing as time travel as I can almost taste the Kudos chocolate bars and cold Fla-Vor-Ice as we played on the Sega Genesis with these tracks blaring in the background. When we weren’t gaming, we would overanalyze the lyrics of the music questioning what Kurt was trying to tell all of us listeners coming up with numerous completely offbeat theories as to what it all meant. I was the kid that memorized every song and even wrote out the lyrics much to the delight of my friends, who would secretly use the schools copiers to have the complete lyrics of these cherished songs. To say this band and this album meant the world to me, would be an understatement in every sense of the word.
It wouldn’t be long before I began hunting the singles from this album and, over time, finding them all with tracks that only the biggest of fans were aware of such as Even In His Youth, Curmudgeon and D-7. While I still have these discs, these tracks are no longer as hard to find but I still get a fun moment of exclusivity every time I hear them, knowing that I had been one that had these tracks in his possession before many others even knew they existed. In a way, my search for every Nirvana song began with this album and only got more intense after that fateful day in 1994 when it all came to a crashing end. More on that later though.
The album itself is indeed an anthem to what would be known as Gen X, the forgotten generation, as well as to some of the earliest Millennials. There is something eternal about this album that still resonates today. Kurt’s rough and raw vocals combined with tracks that go from pure rock to soft near ballads each diving deeply into the minds of three young rockers in the 90’s never gets old. Nevermind is just pure enjoyment that lulls you into a false sense of ease just before blasting your ears with another round of rock gems. It’s an organized chaos that works on every level and only leaves you wanting more. To think that it has been thirty years since the release of this album makes me feel both old and nostalgic all at once. It’s hard to believe that the copy I have of this album is one I have carried with me all of these years. To me, this is an album that is, as Doctor Who calls it, a Fixed Point in Time. It is an anchor that brings me back to what I still feel was only 10 years ago, even though it keeps getting further away.
I could easily fall into the known tracks here but honestly, there are some deeper cuts on this album that are far better than that of the overly played radio hits the likes that Kurt himself began to hate over time.
First off, Drain You. In almost a stream of consciousness combined with some significant rock, this track is nothing but pure grunge power with moments that feel almost transcendental.
Stay Away is a track that was originally written as ‘Pay to Play’ and can be heard in it’s original form on the DGC Rarities album. This album is one that has such a fun play on words and is just pure rock enjoyment.
The final track I adore is the hidden track that was ironically left off of early pressings of the album. Entitled Endless, Nameless, the ’13th’ track on the album starts off as nothing but chaos but evolves into an almost bondesque theme at moments before once again falling apart. It’s tremendous and quite a surprise for those who fell asleep listening to the final moments of Something In The Way.
Ok, Where do I get it?
If you get any version of this album, pick up the deluxe 20th anniversary edition. It not only includes the entire album remastered but also some of the tremendous b-sides that you probably missed out on. You can grab a copy here from our friends at Amoeba or give it a go via Spotify. Either way, give it a spin.
Late to the Game 4/13/2021
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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