Kurt Cobain’s band became the emblem of the early 1990s. The “grunge”, that music scene that broke with the previous, dominated everything for a few years and quickly faded.
If we were to do a poll to choose the rock album that has most marked Western culture in recent decades, it is likely that never mindfrom Nirvana, is the one that receives the most votes. Today, 30 years after its publication, it continues to impact those who listen to it for the first or umpteenth time and continues to sound as crude as the first day, despite the fact that the subgenre it popularized, grunge, had a rather short life.
30 years ago, on September 24, 1991, I left never mind. Pushed by the unexpected success of “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, a single that had been advanced days before, Nirvana’s second album became the most appreciated by young people at the time. In the 90’s, no one of what is now called Generation X was indifferent to Nirvana.
And that was so thanks to never mind and their singles: the aforementioned “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, “Come As You Are”, “Lithium” and “In Bloom”. In the case of the first song, it had a music video that caused the same impact as the album.
“It was a new era. The world was undergoing a change and moving further and further away from the definition of ’80s rock,” recalls bassist Krist Novoselic.
“Nirvana’s appeal lay in its melodies and strength, inspired not only by punk, but by a wide variety of rock’s predecessors. We had a fairly extensive knowledge of music. We weren’t dogmatic punk rockers, even though we came from the scene hardcore American. We loved the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Black Flag, Flipper. It all came together and that’s what we have. The document for that is never mind”, concluded the co-founder of the band.
Nirvana came from “Bleach” (1989), a minor hit that had a lot of impact in the underground. After “Nevermind”, he would publish “In Utero” (1993) and close his career with “MTV Unplugged in New York” (1994).
“It is timeless. I think part of that is because the songs are really good,” said the bassist. The production is not sophisticated. It’s just bass, drums and guitar. There is no kind of trendy sound. I know that it could not have been done better at this time, even though all the technology is within our reach”.
Drummer Dave Grohl agrees with his former bandmate’s sonic appreciation. “What I am most proud of is the stark simplicity of never mind“, said; “Our intention was for something so simple to be almost childish. Easy rhythms and patterns, more direct composition. My goal was to put to be air drummers to a whole generation of people who had never even been near a drum kit. I think the fact that my instrument sounds like this, so easy to nod, is the reason people still listen to it.”
The Today front man of Foo Fighters also reveals: “When I joined the band, in September 1990, I had only heard bleach. I loved that record. It really stands apart from all the other music I was listening to, mainly because of Kurt’s sense of melody. There was a lot of noise, a lot of heavy riffing, and a lot of punk rock going around, but there was something about Nirvana that set them apart. The song “About a Girl” in bleach it just surprised everyone. The band had a wide variety of dynamics, not just musically, but melodically.”
Why Seattle dominated the charts in the early ’90s
the output of never mind it also fueled the success of other bands in Seattle’s already seasoned grunge scene. The ones that went the furthest were Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Alice in Chains.
pearl jam released his debut album havea month before never mind. However, it was the sales of the latter that catapulted have to the top of the charts. For its part, sound garden He launched badmotorfinger the same day it came out never mindbut had to wait superunknown (1994) and the enormous success of the single “Black Hole Sun” to reach similar success.
The aesthetics and sound of grunge opposed the mainstream of the 80s. Seattle rock advocated drier guitars, close to punk, and much more austere aspects, far from the extravagance of bands like Guns ‘N’ Roses, Aerosmith and poison. Despite this apparent simplicity, most of the bands were made up of very virtuoso musicians, something that differentiated them from the punk movement of the late 70s.
Among the others, Nirvana combined a pop sensibility with simplicity and a devastating sound. Perhaps therein can be found the key to his success and the reason for his leadership.
Among the flagship bands of grunge, the only one that survives in its entirety to this day is Pearl Jam. Alice in Chains is also still active, but Layne Staley, its singer, died of an overdose in 2002. In 1994 and 2017 respectively, the voices of Nirvana and Soundgarden decided to end their lives and, with their deaths, the bands played its end.
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“Nevermind” turns 30: the Nirvana album that defined a generation
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