Universal Music Group
Nov 01, 2011 Web Exclusive
What is there left to say about Nevermind? Nirvana's second LP and major-label debut is one of those canonized albums whose reputation makes discussion repetitive. A frequent contender for one of the best rock albums ever doesn't need another critic weighing in.
However, this edition of Nevermind is the rare reissue that earns its release. Not only does the original record sound incredible, the bonus tracks are revelatory.
Now 20 years old (!), Nevermind gets "Deluxe" (two-disc) and "Super Deluxe" (four-disc) releases (the "Deluxe" edition is the subject of this review). The first disc contains the remastered album, B-sides, and live tracks; the second disc contains Nevermind demos and live tracks. (The four-disc version also includes producer Butch Vig's original mix of the record, a 1991 live show, and a DVD.)
Not every track is essential—songs such as "Curmudgeon," from the "Lithium" single, pale in comparison to Kurt Cobain's best—but it's fascinating to hear Nirvana work out kinks. Whether recorded on a boombox or in Butch Vig's studio, the unfinished songs simply shine, proving once and for all that Nirvana was more than a band that found itself in the right place at the right time. The "boombox demo" of "Smells Like Teen Spirit," stripped of its studio sheen, is a feverish force of nature.
As for the record itself, Cobain's guitars sound crunchier, Dave Grohl's monstrous drums sound deeper, and Krist Novoselic's bass thumps heavier. Background vocals you don't remember emerge from the shadows.
As a songwriter, Cobain often rivaled Lennon and McCartney, and Nevermind—especially "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and the catchy, propulsive "Drain You"—signified his peak. We all know how the story ends, but the middle has never sounded better. (www.nirvana.com)
Author rating: 9/10
Average reader rating: 7/10