Posts Tagged ‘kurt cobain’

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Nirvana – Bleach

September 2, 2008

When I first bought Bleach, it came with a sticker on it, a black and white picture of Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic, and original drummer Chad Channing, with the words “This is Nirvana’s First Album” in the signature Nirvana font. This actually makes some kind of sense in the area of marketing, because most anyone who would buy Bleach has already heard the band’s radio hits, of which Bleach has none, and it almost needs to be spelled out that the album is in fact by Nirvana, the same band that tore down as many barriers and rounded up as many fans as they did within two years after its release.

Bleach shows the band in a much different condition than they are best known for. Instead of the later problems with fame, they had a hard enough time putting bread on the table let alone getting noticed when it was being made. It comes as a surprise to many that an album with as much toil and trouble behind its recording and production as Bleach could be so much less monumental in comparison to Nevermind and In Utero, but the album is actually more “grungy” than most everything else was on the grunge market at the time, and it did do some things that hadn’t been approached before.

Instead of combining melodicism and heavy production like Nevermind and In Utero would later do, Bleach seems to waver back and forth between the two. It is hard to listen to the albums pop pieces, Blew and About a Girl, in context with the rest of the album’s stark heaviness, but in that sense this contrast actually foreshadows some of the band’s later work. Side A is the most consistent and powerful, containing the aforementioned hits as well as two songs worth of scalding guitar heroics, School and the Shocking Blue cover of Love Buzz. Much of the rest of the album is extremely heavy, most times to the point where it is rather silly, and also rather poorly written. There are a couple sludgey songs that are heavily inspired by The Melvins, namely Paper Cuts and Sifting. The rest are fast and heavy, with the verses consisting of uninspired riffing with pockets of memorable choruses in between. Lyrically Bleach goes back and forth between interesting and meaningful vocal melodies to scowling potty humor. In short, Cobain has clearly already learned how to write memorable, meaningful hooks, but doesn’t really know what to do with them.

Two essential tracks from the Bleach sessions that are actually very consistent were not included on the original pressing of the album. The 1991 remastered reissue contains Big Cheese and Downer, two of the better songs from the sessions. It makes little sense that these songs were not included on the original release. Big Cheese is a grimey rocker much in the vein of Love Buzz. Downer is the shortest song present, clocking in at under two minutes, but does more damage than many of the albums less accomplished songs combined, presenting a pessimistic world view as well as some of the band’s most memorable riffs from their early years.

Some of these songs may seem dated or cliche, but in fact this is a very early grunge album that most everyone liked and took cues from upon its release. Although it is undeniably patchy, Nirvana mostly have the right idea, and Bleach is one of the heaviest and most influential early grunge albums as well as a document of an era in music, paving the way for Nevermind two years later.

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Frances Bean Cobain Fansite Online, Proves World Really Is Full Of Creeps

October 16, 2006

Being a hardcore Nirvana fan, I can tell you that news that relates to the topic at hand is few and far between, and when it is there, it isn’t always so interesting. And really, it has no reason to be. However, right now things are pretty upbeat, considering a wealth of releases to be looking forward to. Not too long ago I checked my favored source of Nirvana news and found that there is a new biography on the horizon. I may see if I can get it. Kurt Cobain was recently on the cover of Uncut magazine, and the accompanying article on the grunge scene was fantastic (save the abscence of Alice In Chains coverage). Live! Tonight! Sold Out!! is getting a DVD release with some unreleased material.

I also noticed another update. It said that Frances Bean Cobain, the daughter of Kurt Cobain who any Nirvana fan knows was the absolute best thing that could have ever happened to him, has a fansite where over 1,000 images of her can be found, along with extensive information, videos, and a journal where Frances herself writes and keeps “fans” updated with details of her personal life.

Within seconds I felt sick.

Everyone knows that celebrities have an especially hard time raising their kids to be respectable people. The cameras are already enough to make me nuts. All Access is TV that makes me want to puke. What the media does to these people is ridiculous. If you want to see them on the red carpet, that’s great. At a press release? Fantastic. But I think it’s upsetting to see even these rich actors who I many times resent due to their position get harassed and snooped on by dickheads with cameras. I find the practice of celebrity worship something to be taken with a grain of salt. I have given up on my dream of the lack of it, because I know it’s not going to happen. But what is even worse than celebrity worship is putting their kids in front of the lens. It’s creepy shit, I’m not going to lie to you. I saw a picture of a member of Radiohead and his little kid on the internet once, and that deeply disturbed me. That’s the kind of stuff that just really shouldn’t be circulating, because I know for a fact that they don’t want those pictures being seen by just anyone.

I suppose the situation is different for Frances Bean Cobain. To explain what the media was like all those years ago is difficult. People were still settling into the new age and the celebrity culture, and they weren’t used to music having attitude and not being hair metal or really bad pop. But I won’t go there. What the camera saw back then was different. And when Frances Cobain was born, Kurt couldn’t have been any more proud and happy, which is why he brought her to interviews and award shows and concerts. And people respected their privacy a little more. The slander was still there like it is now, but at least no one was sneaking into back yards or snapping photos of them shopping constantly. And to be honest, the Cobain family was larger than life. It was a celebrity situation that was unlike in many subtle ways anything the people had seen before.

Part of what is unnerving is the fact that the daughters of other celebrities don’t get fanclubs like this. Why? Because their parents would do something drastic about it. However, the situation IS different and the Cobain family, with all due respect, isn’t a completely pampered group like your typical celebrity family is, not that I really keep track of any. It’s innocence. Courtney Love doesn’t take her daughter out to press releases all the time for a reason. She understands that her daughter is not just the child of Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love, but also a person with her own identity. If she wants to get famous on her own and make music or be an actor, that’s great. Then people can start building a mindless fanbase. But she hasn’t. She’s fourteen. I was fourteen not too long ago. I know damn well that fourteen year olds should not be subject to this.

But what really bugs me about this is personal, I won’t lie. I don’t like to see the daughter of one of my musical idols have her privacy raided on the internet. I feel hesitant speaking for him, but if Kurt Cobain was still with us, I’m pretty sure he would be disgusted and offended. In many ways, the death of such a great man marked the beginning of such a brutal celebrity culture (or perhaps it was the birth of Frances that spawned it, it’s hard to say), and I can only dream of what kind of songs he would write about all this utter nonsense that is Hollywood today. I’ll admit it, I am guilty of visiting the website, and I wish to see it’s demise. I’m not going to post the URL here simply because it just shouldn’t get anymore traffic. I checked the photo gallery (god save me) and clicked on “top rated” and what I got angered me even more. There were pictures of all kinds, even baby pictures which I know for a fact that the poor girl would not want shown to anyone. And not baby pictures in public at award shows that the parents were alright with having taken. I mean home stuff. But the most viewed picture on the website is a grayscale photo probably taken recently, with her hair covering one of her eyes. I looked at the photo for a few seconds. She looked strikingly like both Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love. It didn’t take me long to realize, even if she is a nice looking girl and daughter of a, well, celebrity, that this was some really fucked up shit.

What is really strange is the upshot of the site is that they claim that Ms. Cobain is actually in contact with them, and writes in a journal on the website. I find this blasphemous. I may be naive, but I’m not stupid. The “girl” (whoever she may be) who writes in this journal is of an uncanny resemblance to the typical California dumb blonde high school girl. Say what you will about Courtney Love, she would surely not raise her child to be a “liek, myspace” teenager. Beyond that, common sense tells us that Frances Cobain would never want to be a celebrity for who she is known as, nor would she want to associate with a webpage that posts her baby pictures, one of which even shows her without a shirt on (albeit almost fifteen years ago). The proof pictures are horridly fake and a sign that says “It’s Me!!” really says nothing. I suppose I theoretically could be wrong and this may very well actually be Frances Bean Cobain writing on this blog. But I would just like to say that it’s extremely unlikely, close to flat out impossible. Even if by a snowballs chance this is Ms. Cobain, I would apologize. But not for my opinions. I still feel that this site is not only silly and stupid, but also wrong and disrespectful. Beyond that, there’s a lot of fucking creeps out there. No, a ton. And for every fourteen year old girl, theres three times as many creepers, at least. Even then, that’s a generous estimate. Really, myspace is a bad idea, even more strange and even possibly dangerous as this. But people chose to have profiles on myspace. This is pure calculated impersonation.

So I implore you, administrators of “Frankly Frances,” to remove your webpage from the internet. Your site is wrong on too many levels. You have lied, fueled the evil celebrity pestering fire, and no doubt embarrassed the person who you worship so.

That is all. If you disagree, please leave a comment. I’ll be sure to consider your views and no doubt shoot them down accordingly. I can’t see this one being argued against too easily.

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Nirvana – Roma (2/27/94)

August 24, 2006

I just felt like I needed to do some Nirvana rambling and because my friends are probably sick of that by now, I guess I might as well do it here.

How much Nirvana was officially released? Well, not that much. Most of what material hardcore Nirvana fans will have is B-sides and live stuff. Of course the vital stuff is the official recordings, but it’s hard to be a fan of a band that had three studio albums, one b-sides album, and two live albums. You kind of have to branch a little, and box sets and bootlegs are probably the best way to do this. I have no doubt that more official recordings of Nirvana shows will be released in the future, but hardcore Nirvana fans make a point to look for live Nirvana, sometimes live Nirvana that is not easy to get. There is something to be said about the live albums that were released. From The Muddy Banks of The Wishkah is a pretty good collection of some of the bands better live stuff. But theres a few clunkers I suppose. The live Spank Thru makes it well worth it and theres some other fantastic performances on there too. Unplugged is easily my favorite album ever. It’s pretty much flawless, and every song is utterly fantastic. But beyond that, you have to start roaming in bootleg country for any live material, and it’s hard to know where to start when there are so many different choices to make.

All things considered, Roma is probably the best place to start just because it’s so popular. While Unplugged is the best Nirvana you can get, it’s not like what Nirvana normally did. What is really important to have is some hard hitting live stuff, and this is a winner in that respect. And about 75% of fans will tell you that this is the best bootleg there is anyway. The reason being it’s utterly fantastic sound quality. It really sounds like it was professionally recorded. It wouldn’t surprise me if this concert was ever officially released, because it’s just that good.

The only bootleg that you can find that will match this in quality is Out of the Blue, and that’s a piece that only really big fans will enjoy because it mostly only contains the older material that the band did. With that said, Roma is filled with a huge set containing all of Nirvana’s hits and more popular songs. The most treatment is obviously given to the In Utero material, because the album came out not too many months before this. So you get some beautiful renditions of Heart Shaped Box, Scentless Apprentice (possibly my favorite Nirvana song), Dumb, and Rape Me. And of course theres some of the Nevermind era material like Come As You Are, Smells Like Teen Spirit, and Lithium, which while is not anything extremely exciting to hear live, is essential for the perfect Nirvana setlist. And of course there are a ton of great songs played here that weren’t singles and such, the rendition of Very Ape is admirable and a good job was done on Sliver.

I guess one of my few complaints about this disk is that not enough rarities were played. But then again, what is a rarity in the Nirvana respect? The only songs played here that I would really consider a rarity (and then again that’s still a stretch) are the fantastic opening Radio Friendly Unit Shifter, the monster of a live song School, and maybe Serve The Servants. Oh, and Lounge Act. But once again, I wouldn’t even really consider these songs rare for concerts but more uncommon than the others. All I’m saying is I would easily trade Drain You or Breed or Pennyroyal Tea for Paper Cuts, Aneurysm, or Aero Zeppelin. But beyond my nitpicking this is pretty much the quintissential Nirvana set list because it’s just so goddam huge, spanning twenty two songs.

Some tidbits include Krists various funny comments between songs. This is one of Nirvana’s last shows, and god knows Kurt was not in very good condition at this time. So he doesn’t do a lot of the talking. Krist enlightens the audience with words of wisdom. But with all this said, the band is in perfect condition. Very few, if any, mistakes are made at all. Dave is hitting away as hard as ever, and Kurt and Krist are in good playing condition too. Kurts voice is still great and he never misses a note. The only mildly complaint worth thing I could say is that Kurt didn’t talk to the audience enough, but he almost never did during shows. So who am I to complain? Pat Smear produces some good meat for the bands sound with his backup guitar. You can even see him on the cover between Krist and Dave. As far as previous members of Nirvana go, you will probably hear me give about as much respect to Pat Smear as Chad Channing. While Pat was a backup guitarist and we wasn’t as talented or vital as Kurt, Krist, or Dave, he was still a cool and reportedly very nice person who played some great guitar. As far as I’m concerned, they should have just included him as a full time member of the band. Now I know I’m getting extremely involved when I say this, but of all of the pictures I have seen of the band, the cover of Roma is one of my favorites. Not just because of how awesome the rest of the band looks, but because they actually look like a full fledged band with the four of them, a group of warriors now helped by numbers. Another little prize is the ending track, Demolition, which is essentially the band destroying their gear after the show. While it’s not that involving of a listen, really hardcore Nirvana fans will enjoy this track simply because of it’s capturing the moment.

So despite the fact that any fan could argue against the setlist as much as any other bootleg, this is the best you can get. It’s not quite as good as Unplugged or any other official albums, but it’s the essential piece on the opposite side of the spectrum of Unplugged. Considering Kurt Cobain would commit suicide around two months later, the enthusiasm in the playing and singing doesn’t let that uneasiness show. It’s an utterly fantastic live album and even casual Nirvana fans should pick it up somehow.