Nirvana - Bleach
by the Grand Pooh-bah of Tools
This is Favorites, so this will be about
one of my favorites. Deal with it. Are you a Nirvana fan? Cool,
but if you are a casual Kurt fan who only likes the big hits that radio
plays, you have two choices here - get out of here now, or prepare to open
your mind to some great music.
Long before Nirvana became the latest greatest
thing on MTV thanks to Nevermind, Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic and
quite a few different drummers had built up a bit of a local buzz in their
home base of northwestern Washington state. Unlike what some idiots will
try to tell you, they were not some band concocted by some fat corporate
executive in a record label office. They built their following the old
school way, by going out and playing gigs and delivering their own music
without compromise. Kurt and Krist worked relentlessly on their tunes,
but finding a drummer to stick with them was a real pain in the ass. They
had a good thing going with a guy named Aaron Burckhard, but Burckhard
thought the band would never amount to anything, it was just for fun, and
he wanted to stick at the Burger King he worked at because he hoped to
become the manager, so he quit. Bad career choice, eh? He never did make
manager and now he calls himself a modern-day Pete Best. If you don't know
who Pete was, please, get some music history into your brain.
Still determined to carry on, Kurt and
Krist enlisted their good friend and Melvins drummer Dale Crover to sit
in with them to record a ten-song demo of originals at a small Seattle
studio. The producer was so blown away by it; he asked the band to let
him keep some copies for himself. He passed one along to Sub Pop Records,
and they decided to record Nirvana. One problem: the band members were
dirt broke. Luckily, the drummer had a friend who lent the band the money
to record. (Jason Everman, you have my eternal gratitude.) So, for the
princely sum of $606.17, the genius of Kurt Cobain was unleashed upon the
world. OK, the world knew Jack s*** about it, but 35,000 copies sold is
damn good for a debut album by an unknown band on an indie label pretty
much unknown even in its home town of Seattle.
OK, enough history lesson, let's talk about
why you should own Bleach. I won't get into any lyrical content,
buy a book on the band if you want interpretations. I don't know what most
of these tunes are supposed to be about, all I know is that they rock.
This record is not glossy like Nevermind is, you get what you get
for $600. If you've heard the box set, think of somewhere between the home
demos on Disc 1 and Butch Vig's "SLTS" mix. It's just the band (Kurt, Krist,
and Chad Channing) playing live in the studio with vocals and guitar overdubs
tacked on later. The guitar sound is way thicker and raunchier sounding
than on later Nirvana releases, and the vocals are pure raw Kurt with no
studio effects. When the greatest rock singers lists are compiled, Cobain
belongs on them.
"Blew" starts the disc off with a deep,
rumbling metallic bass riff, then the band kicks in. It's so heavy-sounding
because they tuned the axes down a step, and then forgot they did and tuned
them all the way down to C. Kurt's voice goes from a cool almost J Mascis
cigarette growl to full out metal raunch, and the guitar solo will surprise
people who think Kurt's skills are defined by leads like on "Come As You
Are". Heavy song. "Floyd The Barber" is more punky, very Melvins-like,
probably because the drums are played by Dale Crover. Dave Grohl rocks
the kit, but the best drummer to sit on Nirvana's throne was Dale. Rocking
tune, and funny too. Next is "About A Girl". We all know it from Unplugged..
. but here it's electric, sounding more like Smithereens than Beatles.
"School" is simply good old riff metal, with another surprising nice Kurt
solo. Solid drumming by Chad. "Love Buzz" is a cover. The original sucked,
but Krist liked it, so Kurt did it. Kurt makes it rock. Maybe Kurt's best
guitar work is on this tune. Excellent bass work by Krist too. "Paper Cuts"
also features Crover on the skins, and Kurt's vocals and lyrics are awesome
on this one. This one's pretty harsh, it might scare off some fans who
like the poppier Nirvana, but it's a great tune to me. "Negative Creep"
- pure punk fury. I'm a negative creep, and I'm stoned. My anthem. "Scoff"
and "Swap Meet" are two good punk/metal/rock tunes with nice drumming from
Chad, and cool lyrics and quirky guitar riffs/leads by Kurt. "Mr. Moustache"
is Nirvana just rocking out. "Sifting" is Nirvana's best take on sludgy
stoner metal (along with "Big Long Now", an outtake from this session later
released on Incesticide). "Big Cheese" is punk rock, but with pure
Kurt pop in the choruses. "Downer" closes the disc, it's the same song
which was released later.
This record, like Nevermind, has
no filler. Put it on and let it spin away. It's the perfect soundtrack
for when you're pissed at the world and you just want to drink some brews
and hear angry tunes. Nothing mellow here. But it's still good when you
feel happy, it's just great music. Give this CD a listen. It's the best
album Nirvana released.
CD Info and Links
Favorites: Nirvana - Bleach
Billboard Peak (Album): #89 (1992)
Billboard Peaks (Single - "About a
Girl"): #1 Modern Rock (1994) -
#3 Mainstream Rock (1994) - #29 Top 40 (1994)
and Purchase This CD Online
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