Sunday, December 05, 2004

Here is a great ramble clipped from the latest Aquarius update as to why it's not cool to hate Nirvana. Couldn't agree more. I am and have always been a Nirvana fan....

"NIRVANA "With The Lights Out" (DGC) 3cd+dvd 57.00 Been trying to figure out what to write about this for a while now. Every time I sit down to write it, I feel like I'm trying to write a euology for an old friend. Which should speak volumes. We knew this was coming. And man, were we excited. And it is not a disappointment in any way. If anything, it's more than we could have hoped for. See, everyone loves Nirvana. Everyone. Those of you who say you don't are just trying to be c'ool'. Sort of like the people who talk about how the Beatles suck. The Beatles did not suck. They wrote more perfect pop songs than any band in the history of rock and roll. Nirvana also don't suck. And are also responsible for some of the best songs ever. It's not cool to pretend you don't like Nirvana. Not at all. In fact, it's unbelievably UNCOOL. Why deny yourself some of the most important, visceral music of the last 15 years? Because it gets played on MTV? Because jocks blast "Smells Like Teen Spirit" after the big game? Nope, sorry. Not good enough.

Nirvana were one of those bands we could all love. Heavy enough to appeal to headbangers, raucous enough to still be punk, but equipped with a pop sense unrivalled, and thus able to whip out the most beautiful pop song in the world without a second thought -- usually sandwiched between two swirling snarling blasts of stage destroying chaotic rrroooaaaar. But that's part of what was so charming about Nirvana. Even when they were huge, they acted like you or me. Stupid jokes, smashing guitars, unlikely covers, ripped jeans and t-shirts and greasy long hair. It was like your pal or your older brother was snatched out of your suburban hellhole of a life and made a rock star. And how could you not love that (once you got over wishing it was you)? Which also goes to why it was such a blow when Kurt Cobain died. I literally cried. At the time I remember thinking "Why the fuck am I crying." I mean, it's not like he was a friend of mine or something. But he was something special. To me. To everyone I know. And Nirvana was something special. Our generation's Beatles? Maybe. But definitely the most important band of the nineties. Responsible for reshaping popular music, killing off hair metal, and giving us music that would be the soundtrack to our lives: breakups, mixtapes, road trips, broken hearts, life and death, fucking and fighting. Sounds like hyperbole but it's really not. This band was and is really important to me, and millions of other folks. Which is pretty remarkable. After the death of Cobain, and after getting over the sheer sadness and loss, one could not help but think about all the amazing music and the songs that would now never be written. Callous maybe, but the music is what made us love him/them. Their recent greatest hits disc offered us the unreleased "You Know You're Right", which was at the time the greatest thing we could've heard, a song as good as any of their others, seemingly pulled from the ether. And now we have this. A collection of what is supposedly everything. or at least everything worth releasing. And it is absolutely fantastic. I literally got all teary listeing to this, and the DVD had me all choked up as well. Can't remember the last time a record did that to me.

So, what's on it? If you're like me, it hardly matters. Just knowing that it's stuffed to the gills with rare and unreleased Nirvana songs and I'm sold. If you need more than that, here goes. Don't sell back your greatest hits though, "You Know You're Right" only appears here as a solo acoustic recording from 1994. This version may not rock as hard, but it is a lot more intense and personal. The box is basically in chronological order, so disc one is definitely gonna hit the spot for those of us (like Allan) who loved Bleach the best. Demos and acoustic tracks and live on the radio, this is all Holy Grail sort of stuff. Live versions of Zeppelin's "Heartbreaker" and "Moby Dick" done in suitably ramshackle chaotic Nirvana style. Live versions and demos of tracks that would show up on Bleach. But by far the most exciting tracks are the unreleased songs. "White Lace And Strange", "Help Me I'm Hungry", "Mrs. Butterworth", "Grey Goose", "Token Eastern Song" and more. Disc two has less unreleased tracks but lots of alternate versions of tracks from future records, as well as loads of b-sides (their split with the Jesus Lizard, maybe one of the best Nirvana songs ever) and covers (Wipers!) and a big ol' chunk of solo acoustic versions of classic tracks that sound even more intense and harrowing performed sans band. Disc three brings us close to the end. A handful of demos and more solo acoustic versions of songs you already know and love. Highlights include the track "Sappy" which was a secret track on a benefit compliation and was originally titled "Verse Chorus Verse" and is another of their best curiously relegated to being hidden uncredited at the end of a random comp ("Train In Vain" anyone?). Also "Marigold", the only Nirvana song sung by Dave Grohl, an obscure b-side, that hints at Grohl's Foo Fighter future. A sweet and jangly Vaselines cover and more. The set ends with a solo acoustic version of "All Apologies" and if you hadn't gotten all emotional yet, this one will definitely do it to you.

The DVD is pretty amazing as well and adds to the whole feeling of Kurt being an old friend who passed away. Mostly home movies, the first chunk is a party / rehearsal in Krist's mom's house and features the band rocking out in a panelled, carpeted basement, while various rockers sit around drinking beer. Cute and sad, and funny and sort of remarkable how amazing they were as a band even so early on. The rest of the DVD is made up of various tracks filmed live in various locations, from small clubs to huge arenas. Lots of hilarious onstage banter, lots of drum kit destroying, and lots of powerfully off kilter versions of all of the best Nirvana songs. Beautifully packaged in an oversized hardcover book, on the front an embossed metal plate featuring the band in their Sunday best, as if they were at a funeral. Or a wake. Because as sad as this is, and as much as this makes us miss someone we felt we knew as well as our best friend, and a band who meant more to us than almost any in our memory, under the circumstances, we couldn't be happier."

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