It’s just so, so, so much better than you remember it being. When’s the last time you listened to Sgt. Pepper’s? Or Led Zeppelin IV? Or Thriller? Long time, right? Because even if you thought about it, albums like that feel like their permanently etched in the brain. Like you’ve heard it so much, it’s so over-exposed, and it’s so, well, obvious, that why would you? So you don’t. But you should. And I don’t mean you should listen to a single on the radio, or on iTunes shuffle, I mean the whole album. There’s a reason it’s a landmark, and hearing it again you quite likely hear yourself saying “wow” a lot.
- Anything that involves supporting Krist Novoselic is positive thing. Since the end of Nirvana, Novoselic – the bassist and co-founding member – has done nothing to exploit that success (neither has drummer Dave Grohl, don’t get me wrong, but Grohl has found plenty of other commercial success). He hasn’t produced a “Krist Novoselic Presents: The New Seattle Scene!” record, he hasn’t used his name to play bass for some big band, nothing. At this point he could release an album with a band called Krist Novoselic & The Party-Time Dance Factory and he’d still be in the positive column of the Rock Cred ledger. You should support that.
- You can listen to the “original” version of the album. The re-release is features, among other things, the version of the ablum before it was given a more commercial spit shine. This isn’t to malign the end result, but how can you not want to hear a more raw version? A version more akin to the existential horror soundtrack that was In Utero? Maybe it’ll be terrible… but surely it will be interesting.
- You can contemplate that it’s been 20 years since rock & roll grabbed the world and demanded to be recognized. It’s pretty cyclical that rock & roll reaches some horrible nadir from which the only merciful thing to do is declare it dead. Over. Kaput. But, like the contrarian monster it is, it has always lashed back with fiery reawakening. Joy Division did it in the 80’s after the murk of disco and arena rock, and Nevermind was the album to do it in the 90’s amidst the hair metal and antiseptic dance music. (Actually, two albums in close succession did that in that period, but for different audiences and ends. Nevermind was one, Straight Outta Compton was the other). There have certainly been great albums since then, great bands, but in 20 years there has not been anything to grab the world by the lapels and demand it take notice. And we’ve seen boy bands, auto-tune and Toby Keith, so don’t tell me we haven’t heard some musical death knells.
Without Nevermind, a lot of great music might not have gotten heard by a lot of people. So, the whole NW music scene – call it “The Seattle Sound,” call it grunge, call it Sasquatch Rock – happened with or without Nirvana. It would have likely been a pretty different phenomena, but Alice In Chains, Pearl Jam, Soundgardenn – they would have all been fine. But bands like Mudhoney, The Melvins, and The Screaming Trees got a level of exposure that, in all likelihood, they’d have otherwise not received. Bands like Tad might not have even gotten a record contract. And a world with Tad albums in it is much better than a world without. You’ve quite likely never heard Tad, and their sound is certainly, well, not mainstream (it’s a little – and I say this in an entirely positive vein – like being hit with a balloon filled with mashed potatoes and gasoline), but the music world needed a band like them.
- It was a victory for the good guys. I was in England when Nevermind came out. When I left, the fraternity houses were blasting Tone-Loc and Poison and Bon Jovi. When I returned? “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Yes, this is also kind of a gross degrading of the music to party anthem, to headbanging; but it was also actual musicianship getting widespread attention. It transformed popular music overnight from hair metal to something new. The backlash would get ugly for music and Cobain, but for a moment, it was pretty cool. Here’s C&C Music Factory’s “Everybody Dance Now” if you want a little reminder of what was hugely popular before Nevermind came out:
- It will likely lead you to discover or rediscover other albums from that period. You’ll listen. You’ll either start thinking about the other music happening at that time, or start pondering. You’ll seek. You’ll find. You’ll expand your musical consciousness. Nevermind is a gateway album. Perhaps you’ll want to take a listen to Soundgarden’s Badmotorfinger or Faith No More’s Angel Dust? Or rediscover Pearl Jam’s Ten (just in time for the film Pearl Jam Twenty). And rediscovering music is one of life’s great joys.
7 Reasons You Should Care About the 20th Anniversary Re-Issue of Nirvana’s Nevermind
September 27, 2011
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