Nevermind by Nirvana.
Released in 1991 Nevermind by Nirvana is one of the most important records of the last 25 years and an album whose influence changed music. In summary we all heard Smells like Teen Spirit, bought the album, the Seattle Scene / grunge was born, and numerous other like minded but not quite so original bands followed in the footsteps of Messers Cobain, Grohl and Novoselic.
Not quite. Pearls Jam 10 was released a month earlier and Grunge was not invented by Nirvana.
Nevermind by Nirvana was not even the bands first studio release.
In Kurt Cobain, Nirvana had an exceptionally talented song writer. Drummer Grohl said that Kurt Cobain told him, “Music comes first and lyrics come second,” and Grohl believed that above all Cobain focused on the melodies of his songs. Melodies that today distinguish this great album of Rock from its other Grunge contemporaries. 10 is a great album but its tunes are just not as catchy and the riffs not as big as those found on Nevermind.
Neverminds release was also very well timed. 1991 was also the year of Use Your Illusion and Metallica’s Black Album (Metallica). Rockers were active, attracting large crowds, and guitar bands were selling a lot of albums. At the same time the Indie scene (led by the magnificent Stone Roses and just starting to cool after the heights of 1990) was still significantly important. Nethermind appealed to both markets. Nirvana therefore found a home with fans across many genres which clichéd journalists referred to as “alternative”. People who liked guitars, songs with meaning, an independent semi reckless feel and anything away from the mind numbing audio torture that is pop.
Post Nevermind, Nirvana only released one more studio album In Utero, which is worth a listen but for me it was always more of a goodbye note from Kurt (who was dead 6 months after its release) than a great Rock Album. All Apologies is the stand out track on a record that I have always felt was just lacking something compared to its predecessor..Energy, Melody or Impact? I don’t know. A harsh critic would label Nirvana as a one album band…BUT WHAT AN ALBUM. The truth is that because of Kurt Cobains early death we will never know just what could have been achieved. However in Nevermind his legacy has been assured.
The album starts with Smells like Teen Spirit. A commercial hit single, and a true monster of a riff. All I need to say about this track is that I can remember where I was when I heard it first. Its impact is instant. The track list on this album is simply awesome. In Bloom, Come as you Are, Lithium, Breed, on a plain etc. Each track is pretty much full on heavy metal, loud, and fast but Cobains lyrics and melodies deliver a more commercial, accessible end product. Nevermind was never music for morons, but it also lacks pretention. It is not claiming to be anything clever. The band had a certain modesty, and no egos were on show. They were just a little low key, and this distinguished them from the Stadium Rockers of the time such as Metallica and Guns and Roses. The music did the talking and Nevermind spoke volumes to a very wide section of society who for whatever reason were looking for something different.
My favourite track on the record is probably In Bloom but that means nothing. This is an album that lacks only one thing…A bad track.
Post Nirvana, and post the Guns and Roses Use Your Illusion tour (and the effective end of GNR) a musical void was left. The public had an appetite for guitar based rock and in the UK Indie/alternative music successfully filled this vacuum, growing from its baggy Jeans, tie dyed shirts and bouncy bass lines to something with more variation, creativity and wider appeal. Post Nirvana, Indie was more than just Stone Roses clones. The seeds of Britpop were starting to germinate.
In 1994 Oasis released Definitely Maybe, Pulp released His and Hers, Blur released Park Life and Primal Scream released Give Out but Don’t Give Up. All to great critical acclaim. Guitars and Rock music were once again mainstream. Without Nirvana these bands would have still existed, but a significant part of their commercial success is due to the public appetite for alternative rock music that Nirvana helped to create.
Nevermind is a true classic. Not every classic record changes the world but Nevermind had a decent crack at it. Nevermind is a brilliant piece of music.
If you don’t own it, pay for it and download. Kurt Cobain R.I.P.