Monday, November 2, 2009

Nirvana - Bleach

History has been weird to Nirvana. At the time there seemed to be universal consensus that this was one of the great rock bands, but since, and maybe because of Kurt Cobain’s senseless, violent death there has been a lot of rewriting and denying history. Hopefully, the release of this special 20th Anniversary edition of Bleach (is it possible?) will settle the argument. Bleach shows Nirvana in the formative, explosive, pre-superstardom years, when they were clawing their way to the top with such other local contemporaries as Mudhoney and Tad. Cobain was not yet writing with the melodic sophistication he would find on Nevermind, and Jack Endino’s sludgy production creates a very different effect than Butch Vig would get with his crystalline rock perfection but the raw substance of Cobain’s greatness is right there to be heard. Songs like “Blew,” Negative Creep,” “Love Buzz” and the brilliant “About A Girl” show what a powerful songwriter Cobain was, and would become. The greatest strength of the band at this early stage was their rock and roll power. They could punish the audience with their three man attack like nobody’s business, and if you want proof, listen to the twelve song live show that is included in this edition of the album. Obviously playing to a local, partisan crowd the band just rockets out of the gates delivering one slab of hard rock after another and leaving the audience and the modern listener screaming for more. Nirvana was capable of an almost nuclear fury in concert and this show offers ample evidence of that fact. The fat booklet included with this release does not waste any time with wordy explanations of the times or the band, it just has a bunch of photos that show a group of kids - not grown-up men, just kids, living the rock dream. It is touching. Hopefully this excellent package will trigger a reassessment of Nirvana and they will once again be understood as the defining group of their era.

Paul Epstein

1 comment:

joe said...

I saw them open for Dinosaur Jr. at the Gothic right before Nevermind came out. I'd never heard of them, didn't even know who it was on stage until after the show ended. It was one of the best rock and roll experiences of my whole life, though. The hole place was throbbing with their energy. Never forget it.