As the story goes, no one guessed that Nirvana’s Nevermind would become one of the defining rock records of the ’90s, let alone top the charts at number one.
Actually, scratch all that. Considering that Nevermind sold more than 30 million copies, it’s one of the top-selling albums of all time(that’s double-platinum 12 times over, aka a “diamond” selling record), which puts Nirvana up there in some pretty stratospheric company: Michael Jackson (Thriller), Pink Floyd (The Dark Side of the Moon), The Beatles (1). That’s not only a good indication that Courtney Love’s drug dealer is rich as shit, but it means that Nevermind has transcended the album and become something much more complicated– shared experience, a universal language, even a kind of philosophy on life (albeit a pretty angsty-teenager one that doesn’t look so great post-college).
But holy crap that’s a lot of heavy baggage to carry around. When was the last time you could listen to Nevermind or anything Nirvana recorded at all without feeling kind of weird about it?
In case you were living under a rock or underneath the bridge, Nirvana’s seminal album Nevermind turned 25 on Saturday, an event that was marked by everything from a cover night at Sunnyvale to a recreation of the album cover featuring its now 25-year-old baby. There’s not much left to say about the album that led pretty much every suburban kid to buy a guitar and smash his entire Columbia House cassette collection with it, but there’s plenty left to be said about Smart Studios, the Madison, Wisconsin facilities where an early version of the record was recorded. Luckily, a new documentary is coming along to fix that. The Smart Studios Story, directed by Wendy Schneider,will screen at St. Vitus on Nov. 13.
Earlier this year, during a chat with Montage of Heck director Brett Morgen, we broke news that a Kurt Cobain solo album was in the works. As of Friday, the posthumous album, culled from over 200 hours of home recordings found on 108 stored cassettes, is now out in the world, and it’s every bit what Morgen promised.
Today Bikini Kill released a track from the forthcoming reissue of its demo album Revolution Girl Style Now. “Playground,” one of three songs left off the original demo, was recorded in early 1991 at the ABC House in Olympia, Washington, a day after one of the band’s first shows. The reissue, out Sept. 22, was mixed by Guy Picciotto of Fugazi. No, the band won’t be touring behind it (Bikini Kill broke up in 1997 and Kathleen Hanna went on to form Le Tigre and then The Julie Ruin) but plenty of other female-driven ’90s bands are back on the scene.
Back in May, when Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck was screening at IFC Center before its HBO release, director Brett Morgen revealed to Bedford + Bowery that an album of previously unreleased Cobain material was on the way. Now he tells Billboard a little more about it, saying that the as-yet untitled release, out in early November, will consist of everything “from thrash to ragtime and everything in between,” including audio montages and “a sketch comedy routine featuring Kurt voicing all of the characters.”
While you wait on tenterhooks for that, Morgen has a few more gifts for you. For one thing, he’ll be doing a q&a tomorrow, August 7, after a screening of Montage at IFC Center (that’s right: the film is back in theaters, and will be at IFC through August 13). Snag a ticket (still available) and ask him about the above outtake from the film, which he shared with Opie with Jim Norton today. In it, Cobain, in bed with a puke bucket, talks about his chronic stomach pain and jokes about heroin — “needles, needles, keep ’em coming!”
As if all of that isn’t enough for Cobain die-hards, a slew of recordings claiming to be Nirvana rarities surfaced online this week, including the demo that Cobain’s pre-Nirvana band Fecal Matter made in 1986 and alternate takes and demos from Nevermind and In Utero. Head over to Reddit to have a listen.
It’s not often you see Monty Pythonand John Lydon in the space of a week, but there was Britain’s other living legend at St. Vitus last night, chatting with Pitchfork’s Jenn Pelly about his new autobiography Anger Is an Energy. The book, out this week, tells how a childhood bout with meningitis shaped his personality (“I’m a shy, sensitive kind of fellow,” he insisted to the incredulous crowd at St. Vitus) and then goes on to recount his trailblazing and troublemaking with the Sex Pistols, Public Image Ltd., and, of course, his later dalliances with reality tv (that time he showed off his “fried-egg breasts” in I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!) and butter commercials (“the most anarchistic thing I’ve ever been presented with”).
At SXSW last month, Brett Morgen got right to the point as he introduced his new documentary about Kurt Cobain, who died 21 years ago this past Sunday: “I know a lot of you have been waiting over 20 years to see some of this footage,” he told over 1,000 people at Austin’s Paramount Theatre. “So let’s just start the fucking movie.”
It’s 1993 all over again: yesterday Kim Deal of the Breeders released a new video, tickets go on sale today at noon for Helmet and Smashing Pumpkins shows, and last night at NeueHouse photographer Jesse Frohman remembered Kurt Cobain’s last American photo session, images from which are gathered in a new book. More →
In honor of what would have been Kurt Cobain’s 47th birthday (and what is Aberdeen, Washington’s first Kurt Cobain Day) Dead Stars, the band that went as Nirvana for Halloween, just released a cover of “Old Age,” a song Nirvana recorded in 1991 that didn’t see the light of day until the box set came out in 2004. More →
If you missed 285 Kent’s Halloween show last night, then you missed Butter the Children doing the Pixies and Dead Stars covering Nirvana — but don’t hate yourself and want to die, tonight some other bands are taking a stab. Cake Shop has just announced its Halloween Partyshow lineup, and it’ll feature Butter the Children as the Pixies (again!) and Low Getting High as Nirvana. Plus, Palehound as Pavement, Flagland as Weezer, and Vulture Shit as Dookie Shit (a Green Day cover band, we’re assuming?). The show starts at 8:30 p.m. and goes till midnight, and there’s a $8 cover.