This week’s classic album is Nirvana’s Nevermind.
Some Historical Context
I know I heard this soon after it first came out. A colleague at work lent me a cassette (remember cassettes?) of it. I remember listening to it for the first time on my Walkman (not really a Sony Walkman – some other brand) and being really impressed by it.
I didn’t buy it at the time. In fact I’m not sure I ever bought it. I think the CD I have may well have been left behind when my stepdaughter moved out of the house.
While I was impressed by Nirvana, I was never a huge fan. The only album I ever bought was the MTV Unplugged one. I never saw them play. I do, however, remember exactly what I was doing when I heard the Kurt Cobain was dead.
The rest of this blog post will be written as I listen to the album.
1. Smells Like Teen Spirit
I’ve loved this song since I first heard it. It’s one of the all-time great ways to start an album. I don’t think there’s anything particularly revolutionary here – slow verse followed by a “let it rip” chorus – but it all hangs together really well.
2. In Bloom
This is pretty similar, to be honest. The verse isn’t quite as quiet as on Teen Spirit, but the pattern is the same. And it’s still really good. Why change a successful formula?
3. Come as You Are
This was another single from the album (Teen Spirit was the first). It’s been a while since I’ve listened to this album all the way through and I’d forgotten just how strongly it opens.
Ok, I admit that a lot of the songs on the album sound a bit similar. And this means that in some cases I’m not entirely able to match the song with the title. Until it started I had no idea what this songs was going to sound like. But now I recognise it. And like it a lot.
Another on built one the same formula as most of the album. It’s funny how some albums can sound samey and you start getting bored by the end of side one, whereas others (like this one) can be just as samey but each song still sounds fresh. I suppose it comes down to whether or not you enjoy the formula.
And here, finally, is a song that goes beyond the standard Nirvana formula. It’s a sweet-sounding acoustic. It’s only when you listen to the lyrics that you realise it’s about a rape.
7. Territorial Pissings
This also goes against the slow verse/fast chorus template of most of the album. But it moves in the opposite direction to Polly. Everything is fast in this song. I think it’s probably one of the least memorable songs on the album.
8. Drain You
We’re a couple of songs into side two of the album here. And, to tell the truth, the saminess is starting to show a bit.
9. Lounge Act
More of the same. Nothing wrong with it, but we’ve heard it all before.
10. Stay Away
This one stands out a bit. The slow verse bit isn’t as slow as some of them.
11. On a Plain
Getting toward the end of the album, so it’s time to start bringing out some big tunes. I don’t often listen to albums all the way through any more and listening to these classic albums has reminded me just how carefully songs are ordered on an album. I was convinced this was called “On a Plane”. I was wrong.
12. Something in the Way
The last track on the album (the next one is a hidden track and doesn’t appear on all pressings) is something a bit different – it’s all slow, like an extended verse from the rest of the album. This and Polly show that the band were far more versatile than their critics give them credit for.
13. Endless Nameless
After a couple of minutes silence we get this. It’s pretty much just noise. I don’t think I can remember a hidden track that actually improves the album it’s on. This is no exception. And it goes on for far too long.
This is still a really good album (well, with the exception of the hidden track) but more than anything it’s a reminder of just how much potential Nirvana had.
It’s not the best classic album we’ve had so far and, to be honest, it gets a bit too samey in the middle of side two, But I don’t listen to this album enough and I’m glad I was pushed into it.