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Nirvana's Nevermind: 20 year later, covered by friends and fans
July 26, 2011 10:33 AM   Subscribe

Nirvana's second studio album, Nevermind, turns 20 this September and Spin Magazine has put together a collection of covers. The covers span a lot of ground, from Meat Puppets (of who Nirvana were big fans) to Amanda Palmer, and newer acts including Jesica Lea Mayfield and Telekinesis, plus Charles Bradely & The Menahn Street Band, a surprise funk track by 62-year-old "soul shouter." Read more and download the album from Spin (link sent to an email address), or listen to them on YouTube.

Nevermind, previously:
* Nirvana Baby Has a Posse: Spencer Elden now works for Shepard Fairey (May 5, 2010)
* 17 Years Later Here We Are Entertain Us: memories from 17 years later (September 24, 2008)
posted by filthy light thief (187 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
WHAT?? Jesus, it was just yesterday I was in some sleazy industrial dive in Detroit hearing Smells Like Teen Spirit for the first time. Where did 20 years go??
posted by spicynuts at 10:39 AM on July 26, 2011 [8 favorites]


butch vig, dave grohl, and krist novoselic all show up on the new foo fighters record, novoselic is only there for one track, but butch vig produced the whole thing - all analog until post mastering.

and here is an adorable picture of AFP recording the nirvana cover.
posted by nadawi at 10:40 AM on July 26, 2011


I know - watching the clip of Kurt and Krist chatting before playing Plateau with Meat Puppets took me back, but it didn't feel like 18 years ago.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:43 AM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Teenage angst has paid off well, now I'm bored and old. Now get off my lawn.
posted by entropicamericana at 10:44 AM on July 26, 2011 [7 favorites]


Who knew that what "Polly" needed all these years was a banjo? That's the only track I like so far.
posted by rusty at 10:45 AM on July 26, 2011


I am so old. I am quite partial to the Meat Puppets version, it grows on a feller it does. It's also the only cover of this particular track I have heard that I like other than the Patty smith version which has been linked here before. Did I mention that I am old?
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 10:53 AM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


The first MP3 I ever downloaded was their cover of "Lake of Fire." It took over an hour to download (not counting downloading Winamp) and my 486/66 chugged and chugged and ...couldn't do it.
posted by griphus at 10:54 AM on July 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


I feel so fucking old.
posted by mitzyjalapeno at 10:54 AM on July 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


hmm...

On the one hand, looking down the list and seeing Titus Andronicus doing Breed, me gets excited.
On the other hand, I've never heard of Jessica Lea Mayfield, but the fact she's doing my favorite track (Lounge Act) and her description of it, makes me nervous. Plus her picture looks like one of those South Park celebrity cut-outs but, I'll try to reserve judgement 'til I've listened.
posted by mannequito at 10:55 AM on July 26, 2011


Wow, the YouTube commenters really hate the Midnight Juggernauts cover. Something tells me Nirvana would think differently.
posted by spiderskull at 10:56 AM on July 26, 2011


I love Amanda Palmer's Polly.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 10:57 AM on July 26, 2011


nadawi: "butch vig, dave grohl, and krist novoselic all show up on the new foo fighters record"

Dave Grohl better be there since he kind of is the reason Foo Fighters exists.
posted by theichibun at 10:57 AM on July 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


Although they're not on the compilation, I've heard two particularly good recordings of Lithium recently. One version is by Brad Mehldau and the other is by Bisquit.
posted by pjdoland at 11:00 AM on July 26, 2011


Most amazing part? This album, as well as Blood Sugar Sex Magik by the Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Low End Theory by A Tribe Called Quest came out on the same day.
posted by eoden at 11:00 AM on July 26, 2011 [17 favorites]


They peaked with Bleach. The first time I heard Smell Like Teen Spirit (on the radio!), I thought "that wasn't bad unless it was the new Nirvana in which case I may cry."
posted by Guy Innagorillasuit at 11:03 AM on July 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm looking forward to someone's attempt to put together a Low End Theory cover album.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:03 AM on July 26, 2011


Just came in here to see all you people horrified about how old you are.
posted by vogon_poet at 11:04 AM on July 26, 2011 [13 favorites]



Most amazing part? This album, as well as Blood Sugar Sex Magik by the Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Low End Theory by A Tribe Called Quest came out on the same day.


And Check Your Head like two weeks later? Man that was a great summer.

Anyone see the Tribe Called Quest documentary yet?
posted by spicynuts at 11:05 AM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


The first time I heard Smells Like Teen Spirit, I heard Kurt's voice and said something to the effect of "Is that Nirvana? They're the last band I expected to sell out and make overproduced pop songs." Alas.
posted by The World Famous at 11:06 AM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Still remember the first time I heard Smells Like Teen Spirit.
posted by resurrexit at 11:08 AM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


eoden: "Most amazing part? This album, as well as Blood Sugar Sex Magik by the Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Low End Theory by A Tribe Called Quest came out on the same day."

Ha. In college I went to see the Red Hot Chili Peppers. They were awesome—almost as awesome as their two lesser-known opening acts (turned out to be Pearl Jam and Smashing Pumpkins). I waited to long to go see Nirvana, though—huge regret.
posted by theredpen at 11:08 AM on July 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


The first time I heard Smells Like Teen Spirit, I heard Kurt's voice and said something to the effect of "Is that Nirvana? They're the last band I expected to sell out and make overproduced pop songs." Alas.

This is the most hipster "i knew them before they were cool" statement I have ever actually seen in the real world. I thought they were just exaggerating.
posted by synthetik at 11:10 AM on July 26, 2011 [51 favorites]


I was so alternative that I didn't even like Nirvana. Take that hipsters of today!
posted by Keith Talent at 11:10 AM on July 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


Sound Opinions ran a podcast earlier this year on the music from 1991. I was in my late teens at the time and we had a sense that something special was going on. Like many other people I remember hearing (ie, getting blown away by) Smells like Teen Spirit for the first time. You don't forget something like that. I think part of what keeps me motivated to exploring new music is that I'll be able to get that moment back. I've come close, but never quite like that.
posted by quadog at 11:11 AM on July 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


I know it's from Bleach, but this is my favorite Nirvana cover.
posted by humboldt32 at 11:13 AM on July 26, 2011


If Nirvana had peaked with Bleach, we wouldn't be having this conversation.
posted by ceiriog at 11:15 AM on July 26, 2011 [8 favorites]


This is the most hipster "i knew them before they were cool" statement I have ever actually seen in the real world. I thought they were just exaggerating.

Except that Nirvana was already well-known and cool long before Nevermind came out, duh. And Nevermind really is an overproduced pop record.

I was so alternative that I didn't even like Nirvana. Take that hipsters of today!

How is that a hipster thing to say? That's like saying you're so alternative that you don't even like Beyonce.
posted by The World Famous at 11:16 AM on July 26, 2011


Were they good live? I regret not seeing them.
posted by Renoroc at 11:16 AM on July 26, 2011


Total derail, but Pearl Jam has been together for 20 years this year as well. Not many american rock bands can say that.
Plus they released a trailer for the cameron crowe directed documentary today (its going to premiere on PBS)

and this trailer made me a very happy boy. can't wait.
posted by ShawnString at 11:16 AM on July 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


I think you have a point, synthetik, but this is actually the most preeningly hip statement I've ever come across:

They peaked with Bleach. The first time I heard Smell Like Teen Spirit (on the radio!), I thought "that wasn't bad unless it was the new Nirvana in which case I may cry."

Though I have to say Guy Inagorillasuit could've gone a little further. Like so:

Nirvana? That Melvins cover band that made one good demo? Why are people still talking about them?

OR

Everything after the "Sliver" 7" was a sell-out.

I mean, c'mon, Guy, if you're gonna pose, fucking pose.
posted by gompa at 11:17 AM on July 26, 2011 [28 favorites]


Were they good live? I regret not seeing them.

Nirvana at Maple Leaf Gardens on the In Utero tour in '93 was one of the best live shows I've ever seen, and easily the best in a venue that large. Cobain filled the room with his charisma all the way up to the rafters while evidently doing everything in his power not to project his presence at all. When they were on and Kurt wasn't too fucked up, they were a force of nature live.

Never mind the hipster backlash, kids, Nirvana was the real deal.
posted by gompa at 11:20 AM on July 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Just came in here to see all you people horrified about how old you are.

Don't worry, the same moment will come for you sooner than you think.
posted by blucevalo at 11:20 AM on July 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


"Most amazing part? This album, as well as Blood Sugar Sex Magik by the Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Low End Theory by A Tribe Called Quest came out on the same day."

i was about to post this same thing.
Also, Soundgarden's Badmotorfinger was scheduled to come out that day but got delayed by a couple weeks. i was more excited for Soundgarden but I got Nevermind instead. I thought it was pretty good, but it was no Bleach.

I went to see Nirvana just before or just after Nevermind came out and couldn't find anyone to go with me. No one had heard of them.



Who cares, right?
posted by Liquidwolf at 11:20 AM on July 26, 2011


How is that a hipster thing to say? That's like saying you're so alternative that you don't even like Beyonce.

Beyonce today does not equal Nirvana in 1991.
posted by Liquidwolf at 11:21 AM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Actually, I liked (and like) Bleach much better also. If you discovered Nirvana with Smells Like Teen Spirit you may well feel differently, but I'm not sure why you'd disparage people who knew and loved the band before that. It doesn't mean anything except that we listened to different music.
posted by OmieWise at 11:22 AM on July 26, 2011


I had heard (owned, played to death) Bleach and liked Nevermind even better when it was released.

I guess I suck at this game.
posted by eyeballkid at 11:25 AM on July 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


Steady Diet of Nothing also came out that summer.
posted by OmieWise at 11:25 AM on July 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Beyonce today does not equal Nirvana in 1991.

Sorry not to be accurate enough for you in my analogy. What, today, is the most popular band or artist in the world with the most successful album in the world? Insert that name in my previous comment.
posted by The World Famous at 11:25 AM on July 26, 2011


Nirvana? That Melvins cover band that made one good demo? Why are people still talking about them?

Actually, the Melvins had a great cover of 'Smells Like Teen Spirit', with Leif Garrett on vox. That album is solid gold... different collab for each track, including the guys from Tool, Brutal Truth, Mike Patton, JG Thirwell, Hank Williams III... so fine.
posted by FatherDagon at 11:25 AM on July 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Strangely, this only made me feel old for a second. Now it makes me feel like I did back in the early 90s, which isn't such a bad thing. I had problems and successes then, and I have both now. I have music that excites me today, too. You kids can play on my lawn. But only for today, understand?
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:28 AM on July 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Finally got it to download and started listening. The Meat Puppets SLTS was delightfully rough and dirty, was suprisingly impressed by the bouncy, happy version of In Bloom, and am currently being annoyed by this boring dance version of Come As You Are!

Any chance we can just talk about the new cover versions instead of the same old nostalgic pissing contest that pops up in every Nirvana/Kurt thread? No? Alright then, carry on...
posted by mannequito at 11:28 AM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I grew up listening to my dad's records - Beatles, Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel, Cat Stevens, The Band, etc. I loved them all, and still do, of course. But there came a time in middle school where it just wasn't cool to like them, and I found myself in the situation of NEEDING to like Nirvana just to be cool. So, I bought In Utero and Nevermind cassettes, popped them in the walkman, and listened to them both over and over and over again. I hated it at first. It was loud and metallic and ugly. There were no harmonies, no pretty fingerpicking. But I had to press on, I had to like them.

And, at some point, I started to like the music. I don't know how it happened or why, but something clicked. And that was one of the best moments of my youth. I thought, "shit, I'm a cool kid. I'm part of the counterculture. AND I EVEN LIKE IT."

I also did this with the Pixies.
posted by ORthey at 11:29 AM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I had heard (owned, played to death) Bleach and liked Nevermind even better when it was released.

I guess I suck at this game.


I don't know why people keep insisting this is a "game." Like whatever the fuck you want, and leave me alone if I like something else.

(I mean, the truth is Courtney Love was always my favorite Olympia band. That gives me no cred at all.)
posted by OmieWise at 11:29 AM on July 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Still remember the first time I heard Smells Like Teen Spirit.

Me too. My first thought was, "They're playing this on the radio? " When the kind of music you've listened to for years suddenly gets non-college airplay, you wonder what it takes for that particular song to make it when so many other good bands apparently had no luck.

Then you get to be annoyed and old and cranky at all the people who have newly discovered the stuff you've been going to see in people's garages and shows that get shut down in the middle of the first band. And you get to be slightly miffed that the dumbshits who teased you in school for wearing thermals under your torn-up jeans have all run out to buy flannels and thermals for themselves. Then you remember that your parents told you this exact thing would happen and you would feel this way because it happens to every generation of people. You decide to get over it and be pleased that you have all sorts of great memories of bands playing in garages and shows getting shut down and everyone going to drink down by the river instead.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:29 AM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Beyonce today does not equal Nirvana in 1991.

Sorry not to be accurate enough for you in my analogy. What, today, is the most popular band or artist in the world with the most successful album in the world? Insert that name in my previous comment.


My point is the same whether its Beyonce or Black Eyed Peas or whatever. 1991-92 Nirvana was both hipster/underground/punk/indoe- credible AND the most popular band on the charts. It was an unusual situation. That's not the case with Beyonce who is popular on the charts but not remotely "cool" or underground.
posted by Liquidwolf at 11:32 AM on July 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


I'm not sure why you'd disparage people who knew and loved the band before that. It doesn't mean anything except that we listened to different music.

Look, I own Bleach on vinyl. I've got European bootlegs containing outtakes from the Nevermind sessions and throwaways from the Bleach era. I own a Sub Pop "Loser" t-shirt. One of the first songs I ever learned to play on guitar was "About A Girl," and I think I once knew all the words to "Swap Meet" or at least believed I did.

I'm disparaging the notion that you could think Bleach was a fantastic record and Nevermind an abhorrent one for any reason other than the relatively popularity of the two. You could surely prefer the style or production values of one to the other, but adoring one and detesting the other? Come on.

I'm not much for Your Favourite Band Sucks slapfights, and I'm very much of the whatever-turns-yr-crank school when it comes to music fandom, but popping up in a Nevermind-turns-20 thread to claim you hated everything after Bleach is a pose. It should be called out as such. Take that hipster yawn elsewhere, it's making me tired.
posted by gompa at 11:34 AM on July 26, 2011 [39 favorites]


If you discovered Nirvana with Smells Like Teen Spirit you may well feel differently, but I'm not sure why you'd disparage people who knew and loved the band before that.

From where I'm sitting, it looks like the people who knew and loved the band before that are the ones disparaging the fans of Nevermind, not the other way 'round.

Hell, I preferred Pearl Jam, but I at least acknowledge and respect that Nirvana was horkin' big and had fans, and so that's why I'm sniffing at this, all "well, it's okay, but it's no Ten, now, is it?"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:39 AM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't know why people keep insisting this is a "game." Like whatever the fuck you want, and leave me alone if I like something else.

Don't recall saying anything about you. Defensive much?

Your turn.
posted by eyeballkid at 11:39 AM on July 26, 2011


Wow, it's like a moshpit in here!

*commentsurfs away*
posted by mannequito at 11:42 AM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Smells Like Teen Spirit on Top of the Pops

Heh.
posted by homunculus at 11:44 AM on July 26, 2011


My band and I are so fucking underground, we hate all our music and that's why we never release it. Once all of us have heard it, it's overplayed.
posted by Dark Messiah at 11:45 AM on July 26, 2011 [16 favorites]


I'm disparaging the notion that you could think Bleach was a fantastic record and Nevermind an abhorrent one for any reason other than the relatively popularity of the two.

I don't think anyone here is advancing that notion. Bleach was a very enjoyable record with a few extremely good songs and Nevermind is a pretty good, but overproduced, pop album that also has a couple of very bright spots.

There's nothing hipstery or cooler-than-thou about pointing that out or having noticed it at the time.
posted by The World Famous at 11:50 AM on July 26, 2011


Were they good live? I regret not seeing them.

Yeah. At the club level, at the arena level, they were amazing.

Just came in here to see all you people horrified about how old you are.


Old enough to have seen Nirvana in a club. I'm not sure I'd be willing to give that up in exchange for shaving a few years off my age.
posted by padraigin at 11:50 AM on July 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


we hate all our music and that's why we never release it.

I liked you guys before you even considered not making music, now it's all just bandwagon music haters.
posted by drezdn at 11:50 AM on July 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


My relationship to Nirvana is weird. "Nevermind" came out when I was twelve, and while I was aware of it, I didn't have an opinion either way. In my twenties, playing in bands with Nirvana fans, I really started to like their stuff.
posted by drezdn at 11:52 AM on July 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


SMTS was the first of their songs I'd heard (at age 8? 9?) and I loved it. Then, I loved Nevermind.

Then I heard Bleach and loved it too!
posted by utsutsu at 11:52 AM on July 26, 2011


I'm looking forward to someone's attempt to put together a Low End Theory cover album.

August Mefi Music Challenge?
posted by drezdn at 11:53 AM on July 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


I was going to join the pile-on on the "I prefer their earlier work" people but then suddenly I remembered every comment I've ever made on an REM thread.
posted by escabeche at 11:53 AM on July 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


My band and I are so fucking underground, we hate all our music and that's why we never release it. Once all of us have heard it, it's overplayed.

Fenriz?
posted by ignignokt at 11:54 AM on July 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Drezdn: My relationship to Nirvana is weird. "Nevermind" came out when I was twelve, and while I was aware of it, I didn't have an opinion either way. In my twenties, playing in bands with Nirvana fans, I really started to like their stuff.

Drezdn, I'm sorry as hell, but that kind of honest, non-emotionally charged statement is just not gonna fly in this thread.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 11:54 AM on July 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


It's ok to not like things!
posted by Windigo at 12:00 PM on July 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Fenriz?

Nah, my tattoos were drawn by someone blessed with above-legally-blind eyesight, and tattoo needles as opposed to bic pens. ;)

the sad part is, Fenriz is a really good drummer when he cares to be.
posted by Dark Messiah at 12:01 PM on July 26, 2011


Charles Bradely & The Menahn Street Band win this little cover competition as far as I'm concerned. The only way to cover Nirvana is to take it and do something totally different. The Surfer Blood and Telekenisis covers sounded too much like the originals.
posted by dortmunder at 12:02 PM on July 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think I just have a thing for liking songs from bands with awesome drummers before that drummer was in the band. Working Man with Rush and Swap Meet, Love Buzz, Negative Creep, and About a Girl here.

mannequito: "boring dance version of Come As You Are"

As someone who has been forced to like this type of music because of one of my bosses who isn't a big fan of Nirvana and hates Radiohead, it's both refreshing to hear someone with less of a singing voice than Kurt doing this and something I never want to hear again.
posted by theichibun at 12:03 PM on July 26, 2011


No one posted Miley's version of Smells Like Teen Spirit yet???
posted by ejoey at 12:03 PM on July 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


I was the videographer for the EMA recording of "Endless Nameless".

We shot & edited an exclusive music video for this, but not sure if SPIN is going to release those at a later date or not.
posted by wcfields at 12:06 PM on July 26, 2011


Wow, tell me grandpa. What was it like to be a hipster before it was cool?
posted by chillmost at 12:07 PM on July 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Whom! Of whom! Whom is a funny funny word. WHOM WHOM WHOM WHOM WHOM.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:10 PM on July 26, 2011


No list of Nirvana covers is complete without Dokaka's Smells Like Teen Spirit.
Dokaka is trippy, listening to his album is the closest in my life I've come to being on drugs.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 12:10 PM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


tori amos covering smells like teen spirit

which is really just an excuse to post jawbox covering tori amos
posted by nadawi at 12:17 PM on July 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


Here are the Deftones covering Jawbox (now let's bring this all the way back to Nirvana).
posted by drezdn at 12:19 PM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


oh, and i can't find it now*, but supposedly dave grohl said he feels like he kind of fucked up nirvana by joining the band - that his steady, unbreaking drumming messed up the sound.


*googling for dave grohl ruined nirvana is apparently too vast a category to be helpful.
posted by nadawi at 12:20 PM on July 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


On the other hand, I've never heard of Jessica Lea Mayfield, but the fact she's doing my favorite track (Lounge Act) and her description of it, makes me nervous.

Wow, I really don't like her voice. That's my favorite track too, or Territorial Pissings. Surfer Blood wins, imo. Go full acoustic or go original.

I really wanted to like the Midnight Juggernauts, but couldn't do it.

I'm very surprised no one's mentioned Butch Walker or The Vaselines. Those are the two best covers, imo. The Vaselines, as you know, are absolutely fantastic, and Kurt Cobain called Eugene Kelly and Frances McKee his "most favorite songwriters in the whole world."

No one posted Miley's version of Smells Like Teen Spirit yet???

That's been my "rickroll" goto for the summer of 2011.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:21 PM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


also, posting in a separate comment, (since it may be deleted by the mods, tho I'm just linking to google here) ...

the Newermind cover album is available on Mediafire--google search link

that's the only downloadable version i've found so far. ... i'm not sure it's worth downloading, but there it is ... ^_^
posted by mrgrimm at 12:28 PM on July 26, 2011


Were they good live? I regret not seeing them.

I saw them in Montreal at Les Foufounes Electriques right before Nevermind came out. So drunk that we were late and missed the Melvins who opened. What I do remember most about the show is that everyone was in a great mood, band included, and we were dancing like idiots without the usual attendant aggression of a punk bar dance floor. It's the only 'heavy' band I ever saw where that was the case.
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 12:32 PM on July 26, 2011


I wonder if the 20th anniversary edition of Live Through This will include the original demos by Kurt Cobain.
posted by entropicamericana at 12:33 PM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nevermind came out 20 years ago.

Zeppelin IV came out 20 years before that.

*runs into traffic with walker and bifocals*
posted by joe lisboa at 12:39 PM on July 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


*hobbles into traffic, rather*
posted by joe lisboa at 12:40 PM on July 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


I wonder if the 20th anniversary edition of Live Through This will include the original demos by Kurt Cobain.

No you don't.
posted by swift at 12:43 PM on July 26, 2011


The cover of Lounge Act is exactly the kind of thing that I don't like, but I really, really like it.

This thread is making me all itchy for jamming. I need to call a drummer.
posted by uncleozzy at 12:47 PM on July 26, 2011


I usually find comments of the "I'm so old", "Where has the time gone" sort made by people who still statistically have more life ahead of them than behind them to be really obnoxious, but still, I am sentimental enough to think it's kind of neat to remember discovering a new band before they made it big, only to later have that artist become a huge cultural icon.

I remember sharing a 5-hour car ride with a group of people from where I went to college down to the Bay Area, and having one of the women in the car pop in a tape of this new band , Nirvana, who I had never heard of and figured I would never hear of again since it sounded much different than the type of music typically being played on the radio and thus figured they were doomed to be appreciated only by hardcore music aficionados who sought out "underground" music, only to have them change the entire landscape of music shortly thereafter.

One of my favorite "I saw them before they hit it big" experiences was seeing No Doubt play a tiny club in Berkeley (about the size of a typical elementary school multi-purpose room) in, I'm guessing, `90 or `91. The main things I remember are that the band had far more members at the time than the four who are most associated with the group, their sound was much more traditional ska as opposed to the more pop-infused version they are now best known for, Gwen Stefani was a brunette and for most of the show guys were stuffing $1 bills into her pants.
posted by The Gooch at 12:59 PM on July 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


The World Famous,

Come on, dude. I (and apparently several others) literally laughed out loud when I read your and Guy Innagorillasuit's comments. They're such perfect examples of what a stereotypical cooler-than-thou poser would say, it's hilarious.

Perhaps you didn't mean it to come out that way, but it reeks of, "Yeah, I liked them before they sold out and went ::shudder:: pop and were seized upon by the philistines." The "alas" part certainly didn't help.
posted by Sangermaine at 1:05 PM on July 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


I first heard "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and called one of my best friends to turn it on and listen. His phone was busy, he was calling me to do the same.

One of my favorite "I saw them before they hit it big" experiences was seeing No Doubt play a tiny club in Berkeley (about the size of a typical elementary school multi-purpose room) in, I'm guessing, `90 or `91.

I first saw No Doubt playing at Disneyland. No one ever believes me, but I just googled "No Doubt Grad Night 1995" and bam, first link. I am proud to say I heckled them.

This made me go back and look at my old tape collection. WTH was I doing at 11 y.o. with tapes from Public Enemy, N.W.A. and Bon Jovi?
posted by roquetuen at 1:11 PM on July 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is my favorite Nirvana cover.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:25 PM on July 26, 2011


Rebecca Loebe's take on Come As You Are is a weird, moody lounge track. I remember liking the live audition more (Hulu link, sorry), but now it sounds a bit smarmy.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:33 PM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


After posting earlier that I was nervous about the Lounge Act cover, probably the best I can say is that it came and went and I didn't even notice it playing. But I just gave it a second listen and it truly is forgettable.

Overall my favorites were In Bloom and Stay Away, because, as somebody else stated above, the best way to cover Nirvana is to take it in a totally new direction.
posted by mannequito at 1:41 PM on July 26, 2011


Though I have to say Guy Inagorillasuit could've gone a little further. Like so:

Nirvana? That Melvins cover band that made one good demo? Why are people still talking about them?

OR

Everything after the "Sliver" 7" was a sell-out.

I mean, c'mon, Guy, if you're gonna pose, fucking pose.


It's no pose. Hell, the only Melvins I own is the Gluey Porch Treatments and Ozma, for that matter. I did buy Nevermind even though it was disappointing , but it's the last Nirvana album I bought.

Their music and my tastes changed in different directions, it happens.
posted by Guy Innagorillasuit at 1:44 PM on July 26, 2011


Hell, if I was just trying to be a dick, I'd go to my old standby "Scream was the best band Dave Grohl was ever in."
posted by Guy Innagorillasuit at 1:48 PM on July 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Come on, dude. I (and apparently several others) literally laughed out loud when I read your and Guy Innagorillasuit's comments. They're such perfect examples of what a stereotypical cooler-than-thou poser would say, it's hilarious.

Your response makes me think that you and others didn't actually read what I wrote. Did I say I don't like Nevermind? Did I say I currently think Bleach is better? I told you what my reaction was in 1991 when I first heard the song. That's it. The fact that I owned Bleach and however many other Sub Pop albums and was surprised to hear that particular Sub Pop act go to a major label and release a pop song didn't make me cooler than anyone. I'm not posing at all. I really was an adult in 1991 and I really did hear Smells Like Teen Spirit and, like literally every other person who knew who Nirvana was before then, I was a bit surprised that they, of all bands, had gone in that direction. After all, Sonic Youth had gone from indie to major not long before then, and they had managed to release an album that was nowhere near as commercial or processed as Nevermind. Now, is the production on Nevermind bad? No, it's not. For the most part, it's fantastic. I can't stand all the compression and chorus on the guitars, but that's a personal preference and, FWIW, those same techniques worked really well on other stuff Butch Vig produced.

It's ridiculous that, in a thread about the 20th anniversary of the release of an iconic album, I cannot recount my personal experience at the time that the album came out without being piled on by people who think that merely having had an opinion on the matter 20 years ago makes me a poser.

And, to be clear and to repeat myself: Really? A stereotypical cooler-than-thou poser would say that he was surprised in 1991 that Nirvana had gone to a major label and released a pop single? Because that's all I said and I think you're imagining I said something else.
posted by The World Famous at 1:56 PM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


The World Famous has more time and eloquence than I do, but you guys are projecting a whole lot onto what we said.
posted by Guy Innagorillasuit at 2:03 PM on July 26, 2011


TAD AND THE MELVINS OR YOU'RE A NEGLIGIBLE WOULD-BE
posted by everichon at 2:05 PM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


A stereotypical cooler-than-thou poser would say that he was surprised in 1991 that Nirvana had gone to a major label and released a pop single?


"Alas," an "overproduced" pop single.

Yes, basically that sentence was every stereotype that people have associated with the Hipster, cooler-than-thou, movement.

I didn't say you were right or wrong, or that I agreed or disagreed with your statement, just pointed out the fact that I had never seen such a statement outside of hyperbole and hipster memes.
posted by synthetik at 2:07 PM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't really care if "Smells Like Teen Spirit" is a pop song or otherwise. If's just a good fucking song. Likewise for Nevermind.

I GUESS I'M JUST A BIG LAME
posted by sinnesloeschen at 2:08 PM on July 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


just pointed out the fact that I had never seen such a statement outside of hyperbole and hipster memes.

You did not point that out until just now. And if I had known that you've never heard the word "overproduced" outside of hyperbole and hipster memes, I would have taken your response less seriously. My apologies.
posted by The World Famous at 2:09 PM on July 26, 2011


So, I was a college DJ for much of the late 80's and early 90's. I was a Replacements/Pixies sort of guy at heart, though my shows ranged from hardcore to pretty straightforward pop and rock depending on my mood and current likes.

Anyhow, I played a few random tracks from Bleach when it came out, but at the time it sounded (to my arguably tin ear) a lot like everything else that was punk and distorted. I had other fish to fry (thank you, Steve Albini).

Come 1991, I'm DJing out here in Hawaii, playing the midnight to three slot at KTUH (the BEST slot) and Nirvana has a new album out. Bleach hadn't made much of an impression on me, as I mentioned before, so I am in no hurray to play it. Some guy calls up and requests a song by them - "Smells Like Teen Spirit." I remember this guys voice all these years later because he was excited - really, really excited about the song. He was even more excited when I told him I'd not heard it yet.

So I played it and I was like "Holy shit, this is something unexpected."

The guy who made the request calls me back and asks me what I thought. I said, "yeah, that was really pretty good. I wonder if the whole album is as good."

He says, "YOU HAVE THE WHOLE ALBUM?"

I guess the station had just gotten the album that day because they'd only been playing the single up to that point.

So I spent the next three hours playing two songs by other bands and one song song from Nevermind. The dude who made the initial request would call after each song and we'd banter about it. I think we agreed that we really dug "Territorial Pissings" and "Lithium" best on first listen, but we really enjoyed the whole album.

I think I spent the next three or four months playing at least two tracks from Nevermind during every show. I went back and really listened to Bleach finally and said "Oh, I get it now." I don't think I would have listened to the earlier album without the later album. My only excuse is that when you're DJing at college stations, sometimes you only had time to listen to the first twenty seconds of a song before deciding whether it was something you were going to play next or not. I made a lot of poor snap judgements about music. I mean, I loved the Pixies, but barely played anything from Doolittle because I didn't like "Monkey Gone To Heaven" and now I realize that album is amazing.

Anyhow, Cobain was a great songwriter, Nirvana was peaking during Nevermind and In Utero and Butch Vig's production was (in 1991) mind-expanding for me at least. It felt like the music was exploding out of the speakers, as opposed to hiding behind a wall of cellophane. I don't know how else to describe it.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:12 PM on July 26, 2011 [11 favorites]


You did not point that out until just now. And if I had known that you've never heard the word "overproduced" outside of hyperbole and hipster memes, I would have taken your response less seriously. My apologies.

Not to start an argument, but you might want to read what I wrote again. I literally say "most hipster statement I have ever seen" "thought they were exaggerating." I probably could have been clearer in who 'they' were (people making hipster quotes) but I didn't attack the meaning behind the statement, just the phrasing of the statement itself.
posted by synthetik at 2:12 PM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I thought this would be more fun.

anywho: I was weened on Nevermind-- that fucking disc was more important to me and my friends than food or shoes. For the summer of '92, it was a steady diet of Nevermind, the Use Your Illusions, Weird Al's Off The Deep End, and the Black Album. Most of that time was Nevermind.

woops-- all on tape, not disc.

That said,

Incesticide is otherworldy; Bleach is supernatural.
posted by herbplarfegan at 2:15 PM on July 26, 2011


Just downloaded the cover album. I'm liking the Butch Walker version of In Bloom. It's all over the place in a really good way. (it's like Queen meets the Strokes, maybe?)

Also, I'm supposed to have a comic strip in the printed edition, so... look for "metafilter's own..."
posted by JBennett at 2:18 PM on July 26, 2011


I love Nirvana, pretty much everything they ever did was raw and great. Before Nirvana, I'd never really heard music; Nirvana was my gateway drug, and I've gone so, so far since that fateful introduction.

So yeah, I love 'em, love 'em, love 'em. But for years I haven't been able to listen... now that I'm about Kurt's age it is starting to make sense again.

My all-time favorites are Radio Friendly Unit Shifter and Even In His Youth.

Too bad nobody covered those, and too bad about the sound effects on Palmer's track. I like her stuff, too, but I don't need a balloon-filling-up sound or screechy noises to creep me out.
posted by fake at 2:25 PM on July 26, 2011


Not to start an argument, but you might want to read what I wrote again. I literally say "most hipster statement I have ever seen" "thought they were exaggerating." I probably could have been clearer in who 'they' were (people making hipster quotes) but I didn't attack the meaning behind the statement, just the phrasing of the statement itself.

I didn't understand that you thought "overproduced" was a hipster statement. It's not, actually. It's a descriptive term to describe what it is I didn't particularly like about Nevermind at the time. Compared to what came after it, Nevermind is hardly produced at all. That's the reason for my "alas." As in "alas, little did we all know the horrors of overproduced Nevermind knockoffs that would follow." I'm not trying to argue, either. But I still don't understand how it is that, apparently "hipster statement" now has come to mean "anything other than loopy, gleeful nostalgia."
posted by The World Famous at 2:26 PM on July 26, 2011


Ah shit, and sappy! Who could forget sappy.
posted by fake at 2:28 PM on July 26, 2011


"anything other than loopy, gleeful nostalgia."

To each their own. Some people have a critical position on every album, era, and effort. For those of us that don't, it sometimes appears more effortful, deliberate, and postured than simply enjoying/not enjoying the music.

Doesn't mean it is, doesn't mean it's not.

Also, I'm supposed to have a comic strip in the printed edition, so... look for "metafilter's own..."

Congrats, JBennett!
posted by fake at 2:34 PM on July 26, 2011


Some people have a critical position on every album, era, and effort. For those of us that don't, it sometimes appears more effortful, deliberate, and postured than simply enjoying/not enjoying the music.

But my comment didn't take any critical position.
posted by The World Famous at 2:36 PM on July 26, 2011


It's no Superfuzz/Bigmuff...
posted by AJaffe at 2:40 PM on July 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm on the older edge of the Nirvana demographic, but I'll contribute my memory of riding in the car back then (around Boston), switching between radio stations, and each of three adjacent stations was playing "Teen Spirit". I think my thought was "whatayaknow?, punk's back".
posted by benito.strauss at 2:41 PM on July 26, 2011


Okay, this not only makes me feel old but reminds me of how lame I was in high school because I only heard Smells Like Teen Spirit (and heard of Nirvana) after first hearing Weird Al's Smells Like Nirvana. I mean, I liked both songs, but it was a few years before it was Nirvana's version that sounded 'right' to me.
posted by dismitree at 2:50 PM on July 26, 2011


The best smells like teen spirit covers are the ones from Tori Amos, but the psychedelic-ish one from Pleasure Beach is pretty good too.
posted by palbo at 2:51 PM on July 26, 2011


I turned 21 in 1991 when this record came out; I remember a lot about 1991. Most of it viscerally as you do with your memories of the whole late teenage/end of college thing. But I--quite honestly--don't know when I heard Nirvana first; whether I liked it; or what I thought about it, even though I ended up grabbing the entire back catalog at a record convention in the early 90's. *Lots* of people--even US people--who were 20 years old when this record came out paid no attention to it--they weren't all people with bad tastes in music or only listening to Madonna or GunsNRoses, either. Real Ramona and Loveless were the 1991 records that changed my life, personally, and Love's Secret Domain was the one that shocked me with the direction the band was taking. Pointing out there there was not a universal shock, awe and lovefest reaction to Smells Like Teen Spirit, even among the young & hip at the time, is not really a pissing contest about who was more younger and more hipper at the time. It's--I think--just a way of trying to rub away the white-washing of nostalgia.

I also think these covers are mostly boring. Amanda Palmer's is interesting and so is Charles Bradley's. It's not great, but at least the wacky club Come As You Are tries to make you hear the song as something other than Kurt Cobain's personal diary.
posted by crush-onastick at 2:53 PM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: anything other than loopy, gleeful nostalgia.
posted by herbplarfegan at 3:01 PM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Like too many bands (INXS, the Violent Femmes) Nirvana was one of those bands that I developed a knee-jerk reaction to hearing seriously overplayed on the radio, and I unfortunately avoided as a result for far too long, only years later coming to discover something that many of my friends picked up on early "Hey, these guys are actually really pretty damn good" and feeling a bit like an idiot.

So that being said, Titus Andronicus' cover of Breed sounds pretty damn good.
posted by quin at 3:15 PM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nirvana you say, you mean those Seattle wasters that ripped off Killing Joke? Are kids still talking about them? To each their own I suppose.

I <3 Hamburgers.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 3:19 PM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Paul Anka's big band Smells Like Teen Spirit cover.
posted by The Gooch at 3:39 PM on July 26, 2011


Bleach is fantastic, and has aged really well, in my opinion. It's a string of awesome songs from start of finish, varied but cohesive. Wonderful.

Nevermind is also a really strong showcase of songwriting skills, but it doesn't have that certain thing that Bleach has that makes me bounce around like a maniac whenever I put it on. Lounge Act is pretty awesome, though.
posted by neuromodulator at 3:48 PM on July 26, 2011


I just went to watch the Smells Like Teen Spirit video on youtube.

I remember watching this video on MTV with the way-cool dude from up the block who used to babysit for me sometimes when I was (7? 8? 9?) c. 1992-4. The same one who used to call his girlfriend on the phone from my house, and then hang up and tell me how he couldn't wait to see her in a bikini that weekend. He was like 16 and I never knew what the fuck he was talking about but it seemed kind of exciting and, like, pertinent, in some way I couldn't put my finger on.

Seeing this video at that age, with the sound blasting on my parents' Trinitron, had the same effect on me. That weird fucking janitor; all the smoke; Cobain just standing there wailing at all these kids; the hair, the flannel, the headbanging, Jesus. What the hell was going on here? The whole high-school-gym thing now seems almost ludicrously juvenile and angsty but seeing it as a kid, there was a sort of animal pathos to it that was unlike anything I'd known existed before. It was almost like a sexual awakening.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 3:50 PM on July 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


Nevermind was a good record but In Utero was their masterwork. So many great albums from those olden times. I haven't been genuinely excited by music since. Sure, I looked forward to My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky when Michael Gira announced a while back that he was reforming Swans, but upon hearing the album and discovering that it was no different from Angels of Light, I realise that pretty much everything I've bought since In Utero has been a letdown in one way or another. That record was the last time I was truly compelled, amazed, riveted, and surprised all the way through, by each and every single track. Sure I've always dug my Tea Party and Isis and Godspeed! You Black Emperor albums and whatever but the first two I've always been "Ehh, I think I'll skip this track" and the third you just have on in the background when you're fantasizing about murdering everyone in the whole world with. In Utero is something I'll listen to again and again, and never be moved to skip a particular song.
posted by tumid dahlia at 3:51 PM on July 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


I was noticing that there was a ton of Nirvana on the radio today as I drove four hours home and was wondering how that happened.

Nirvana played at Hampshire College when I was there and I didn't go because it was $3 and that was too expensive and I didn't like the Bleach album cover and didn't know the music very well at the time. Six months later I'd moved to Seattle, a place where I finally fit in for once in my damned life, and their music was everything that was right, at the time, about not being in New England and being just exactly where I was. Getting to spend time driving around on the Olympic Peninsula, and especially Aberdeen where Cobain was from, gave the music [esp the poppy Teen Spirit stuff] a sort of poignancy to me. Like the music came from a certain place but once it got popular that place became inauthentic despite itself. Cobain's arc was so sad in so many ways.

On preview: I had the same feeling about the Teen Spirit video, even though I was older. "What the hell was going on here?"
posted by jessamyn at 3:51 PM on July 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


with
posted by tumid dahlia at 3:51 PM on July 26, 2011


I'm slightly too young for Nirvana. It falls into the gap between classic rock and new indie, so besides the singles I haven't really got into them. I downloaded this because Titus Andronicus and Foxy Shazam (the best new glam band out) are on it, but haven't listened yet.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 3:54 PM on July 26, 2011


Wow, the YouTube commenters really hate the Midnight Juggernauts cover. Something tells me Nirvana would think differently.

When did Juggers get big overseas? I don't mind them.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 3:56 PM on July 26, 2011


I'm slightly too young for Nirvana.

Really? I think we're the same age and my friends and I listened to this shit constantly in high school. Granted, we weren't there for it, but still.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 4:01 PM on July 26, 2011


Did I mention that I love Bleach?
posted by neuromodulator at 4:02 PM on July 26, 2011


Really? I think we're the same age and my friends and I listened to this shit constantly in high school. Granted, we weren't there for it, but still.

I was a classic rock kid, and Nirvana weren't played on classic rock radio. My new music came from VH1, and they didn't play them. My friends listened to Dylan or the Clash. I heard and loved SLTS constantly, but never went beyond that. Pretty much everything from the 90s is a musical gap for me.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 4:08 PM on July 26, 2011


I'm slightly too young for Nirvana. It falls into the gap between classic rock and new indie, so besides the singles I haven't really got into them. I downloaded this because Titus Andronicus and Foxy Shazam (the best new glam band out) are on it, but haven't listened yet.

They were a big deal. There was nothing like it on the radio at that time, especially for a kid of 10 years old whose only exposure to music was through MTV or my local pop station, Power99. My older sister said he looked like a monkey, and I was immediately offended. I knew it was cool. I could feel it. Not only was it cool, but as the line goes from SLC punk, it was new. It was mine.

The way it swept over everything was pretty incredible. All my friends started wearing plaid. Power 99 turned into 99x. I don't know if I'm just imagining it, but I think for a time you could catch a Bon Jovi video and Smells Like Teen Spirit in the same day.

That was back when Beavis and Butthead came on at 4 or 5 pm. Back when MTV had music videos, even. Back when music seemed to be much more meaningful, and not just a background nostalgia track, when you argued about albums on your way to the record store, hoping you had enough for two CDs instead of just one on the day they came out. Hell, Smells Like Teen Spirit was so old I had the cassette. I had a beat up player with a built-in speaker, and I would blare it while it drooped out of my back shorts pocket while I rollerbladed around the neighborhood.*

But that's probably just me, remembering those days like I want to remember them.

*And yes, I'm still single.
posted by notion at 4:30 PM on July 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


It falls into the gap between classic rock and new indie ....

I think you've missed some things there. Actually, I think you've missed a lot of things there.
posted by benito.strauss at 4:31 PM on July 26, 2011


Everything after the "Sliver" 7" was a sell-out.

GRAMMA TAKE ME HOME
I WANNA BE ALONE

Nevermind is a great album but Sliver is 2 minutes of perfect.

"Most amazing part? This album, as well as Blood Sugar Sex Magik by the Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Low End Theory by A Tribe Called Quest came out on the same day."

Most of The Low End Theory has aged well, Arsenio and Sky Pager references aside. Give it a listen if you haven't for a while.

1997 > 1991 though. Life After Death, Supa Dupa Fly, OK Computer, Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space, Homework, Dig Me Out, The Carnival...
posted by Blue Meanie at 5:00 PM on July 26, 2011


Am I the only one who got excited by mistakenly reading that as Charles Barkley & The Menahn Street Band.
posted by holdkris99 at 5:33 PM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Power 99 turned into 99x.

Wow, did not think I would be encountering Atlanta radio flashbacks here.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 5:36 PM on July 26, 2011


1997 > 1991 though.

Ok. 1997 was a good year for music. I'll grant you that. But 1991 was better than most people seem to remember or realize, too. Nevermind, Ten, Badmotorfinger, Blood Sugar Sex Magik, Loveless, Pennywise, The Low End Theory, Tromp Le Monde, Pretty On The Inside, Gish, the Black Album, Cypress Hill, Steady Diet of Nothing, Never Loved Elvis, De La Soul Is Dead, Flyin' The Flanel, Shift-Work, Spiderland, The Real Ramona, Tyranny (For You), etc. Plus that was the year of Achtung Baby, The Soul Cages, and Dangerous, for the more pop-inclined. 1991 was a big music year.
posted by The World Famous at 5:36 PM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


My Mom died 2 years ago at 83. This is her favorite Nirvana song.
posted by bjgeiger at 5:36 PM on July 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


I shouldn't tell this story, but I will.

I was in college in 1991. I was with some friends, and we bought some acid. Things were just getting really weird, and one of them convinced everybody to go downtown to see some band I had never heard of. I had just spent my last $5 on the acid, so I was broke. They went anyway, leaving me alone. I messed around campus by myself during the peak of the trip (I think I remember eating pine needles) and eventually found my way back to the dorm room where my tripping friends had returned from the show. The band, they all gushed, was incredible. One of them had bought the album at the show. It was Nevermind. We listened to it again and again. The next week, it was all over the radio.
posted by vibrotronica at 5:50 PM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


ah thanks crush-onastick, I was reading this thinking that I remember dancing to smells like teen spirit at my brother's wedding, and that was great, but what the hell was I really into at the time? Love's Secret Domain is still one of my favourite albums.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 6:09 PM on July 26, 2011


So many good bands in the early 90's. I loved Nirvana, but I'm surprised no-one has mentioned Sugar yet. I was too young for Hüsker Dü, but Sugar fucking rocked. I saw them in a small club (I forget which year) and they were simply primal energy.
posted by arcticseal at 8:13 PM on July 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Metafilter:Arsenio and Sky Pager references aside.
posted by joe lisboa at 8:41 PM on July 26, 2011


In 1991 I started my second year of my first teaching job at a private Christian high school. My classroom was in the basement and my first class of the day, all year long, was grade 11 English Lit starting at 8 am. At some point during that year I heard Smells Like Teen Spirit in that basement hallway - dank, gray tile floor, cinder-block walls painted a faint green. I have this memory. I want to believe that one of my kids, Nick maybe, was playing it on the ghetto blaster on my desk. Oh I wanted to turn that thing as loud as I could. I wanted to be one of the kids. I wanted to celebrate hating all the shit that was school, especially a Christian school.

Arguing about production values and cool this or knock off that seems so to miss the point that at that point in time a lot of us, young and not as young as we wish we were, felt like somebody got it, and we sang along (even if Kurt was daring us not to).

To this day, at least once a semester (no longer working in the private school, thank God!), I play Nevermind in my classes and every time the kids (most of them) recognize it and nod their heads, track after track. It may not be their style, but they understand and appreciate what's being said and done.
posted by kneecapped at 9:20 PM on July 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Disco That No-Talent Hack" did it better, IMHO.
posted by anarch at 9:27 PM on July 26, 2011


erm, "Dsico" [sic]
posted by anarch at 9:29 PM on July 26, 2011


Disco That No-Talent Hack" yt did it better, IMHO.

Ugh he gave me a disc of his AC/DC covers. It always freaks me out.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:40 PM on July 26, 2011



TAD AND THE MELVINS OR YOU'RE A NEGLIGIBLE WOULD-BE


Dwarves and Thinking Feller's Union or you're panty-waist.
posted by spicynuts at 10:58 PM on July 26, 2011



TAD AND THE MELVINS OR YOU'RE A NEGLIGIBLE WOULD-BE

Dwarves and Thinking Feller's Union or you're panty-waist.


The Scientists or you're un-Australian
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 11:03 PM on July 26, 2011


Revolting Cocks and 1,000 Homo DJs or you're a Klingon.
posted by spicynuts at 12:08 AM on July 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


Ooh, that banjo in "Polly" is really lovely - I would have liked to hear a version that is just that and none of the other weird sound effects.

I was too young for Nirvana (Kurt died when I was 9), but I caught up and became a very devoted fan as a teenager, and I still enjoy at least parts of all of their albums. I wish we didn't have to have this same tired conversation about selling out or whatever every single time Nirvana comes up here.
posted by naoko at 12:38 AM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


In 1991, I was 18 years old. Already a nirvana fan, but from the subpop angle, as I was a massive Soundgarden fan. Freshman year at college, moved to NYC to start art school. In september saw Nirvana and Mudhoney play within a week of eachother at the Marquee and was floored. Sonic Youth played a month later. Between September & Christmas, Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins and the Chili Peppers released albums and toured. Then Soundgarden toured on their own, then came back to town opening for Guns N Roses.

What a great time to be a music lover and 18 years old.

Now, 20 years later, I don't feel old. I feel grateful.
posted by Hickeystudio at 3:25 AM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ahhh, nostalgia. I was in high school during the grunge era, and i never owned any albums by Nirvana or Pearl Jam. I was listening to Michael Jackson, Ace of Base, and REM. I was pretty "uncool," but now i feel strangely radical.

-thinks grunge has not aged well-
posted by ELF Radio at 4:33 AM on July 27, 2011


Now, 20 years later, I don't feel old. I feel grateful.

Saw The Strokes at Hammerstein Ballroom on Halloween 2001. Have seen Pavement in Central Park, Andrew Bird, REM, Massive Attack, Deerhunter, The Black Angels, Built To Spill, and any number of bands at NYC venues in the last ten years. I still feel grateful.
posted by spicynuts at 4:36 AM on July 27, 2011


Arguing about production values and cool this or knock off that seems so to miss the point that at that point in time a lot of us, young and not as young as we wish we were, felt like somebody got it, and we sang along (even if Kurt was daring us not to).

And I think this is some of the reason for people's enduring love for this band or that band, one song over another, and why the critical arguments are often beside the point. People (at least as often as not) love music for how it made them feel -- it announced some emotion at just the right time. Notice, it didn't explain that emotion or make sense of that emotion, but it put an aural face on what was probably an inchoate set of impulses, thoughts, and feelings, and that allowed you to make sense of it all in some way at some time.

Weirdly, Proust is like this, too -- whatever you feel, Marcel felt it first -- but that's another story for another thread.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:57 AM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Forthcoming: another tribute to Nevermind, from Reimagine Music, featuring more indie/rock type bands.
posted by filthy light thief at 6:40 AM on July 27, 2011


GenjiAndProust, I've lately come to realize that is a huge part of what makes one feel deep enthusiasm for music. I've been wondering why, in the last ten years or so, I've found plenty of bands and musicians that I've liked, but none that I've felt absolutely apeshit loyal about. The music I do feel devotion to was discovered when I really needed to hear something that cut through day-to-day reality to express inchoate emotions (or perhaps something even deeper than emotions) that I didn't know could be expressed. Now that music, as Iron Chef might say, has gained the people's ovation and fame forever.

I've stopped expecting to discover music that seems as monumental as what I discovered in my teens and '20s because the conditions just aren't right for any music to be as powerful for me right now. And that's OK!
posted by ignignokt at 6:54 AM on July 27, 2011


Holy Mother Of God, I'm looking at the album release list for 1991 and it's blowing my mind. Look at the legendary releases:

Nirvana Nevermind
The KLF White Room
REM Out Of Time
Slint Spiderland
Lenny Kravitz Mama Said (not my cup of tea but you can't argue it's impact)
The Orb - Adventures Beyond The UltraWorld
Temple Of The Dog
Firehose Flyin The Flannel
Primus - Sailing The Seas Of Cheese
Smashing Pumpkins - Gish
Tom Petty - Into The Great Wide Open (ok not a REAL classic but Tom Petty will never do wrong in my heart)
James - James
Fugazi - Steady Diet of Nothing
Massive Attack - Blue Lines
Metallica - The Black Album (they were dead to me after And Justice For All but you know..you can't argue it was a huge part of that summer)
Blur - Leisure
Pearl Jam - Ten
Guns N Roses Use Your Illusion (again..dead to me after Appetite, but huge at the time)
Primal Scream - Screamadelica
Prince - Diamonds and Pearls
Matthew Sweet - Girlfriend
Teenage Fanclub - Bandwagonesque
My Bloody Valentine - Loveless
U2 - Achtung Baby

That's not to mention the FM Radio/MTV giants of pop and glam rock

By comparison, here is 2011. It's fun to see who has releases on both lists.
posted by spicynuts at 8:03 AM on July 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


I was listening to Michael Jackson, Ace of Base, and REM. I was pretty "uncool," but now i feel strangely radical.

-thinks grunge has not aged well-


Do you think Michael Jackson's Dangerous album, REM's Out Of Time, and Ace of Base have aged well?
posted by The World Famous at 9:18 AM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


No, yes, and yes. WAIT, I WAS GOING TO NOT BE AN REM GEEK ON THIS THREAD
posted by escabeche at 9:23 AM on July 27, 2011


Seeing this video at that age, with the sound blasting on my parents' Trinitron, had the same effect on me. That weird fucking janitor; all the smoke; Cobain just standing there wailing at all these kids; the hair, the flannel, the headbanging, Jesus. What the hell was going on here?

I've never seen it, but apparently it was inspired by a Matt Dillon movie of all things.
posted by mannequito at 9:48 AM on July 27, 2011




Do you think Michael Jackson's Dangerous album, REM's Out Of Time, and Ace of Base have aged well?


I do. Particularly Ace of Base. I love me some Ace of Base.
posted by spicynuts at 9:49 AM on July 27, 2011


I'm looking at the album release list for 1991 and it's blowing my mind.

I loved a lot of those albums, but my mind is not so blown.

I'll put 1997 again 1991 any day:

Aphex Twin - Come to Daddy
Bettie Serveert - Dust Bunnies *
Built to Spill - Perfect from Now On *
Chemical Brothers - Dig Your Own Hole
The Donnas - The Donnas
Daft Punk - Homework *
Bjork - Homogenic
Blur - Blur *
Erykah Badu - Baduizm
Elliott Smith - Either/Or *
Geraldine Fibbers - Butch *
Godspeed You Black Emperor - F♯A♯∞
Modest Mouse - The Lonesome Crowded West *
Pavement - Brighten the Corners
Portishead - Portishead *
Radiohead - OK Computer *
Sleater-Kinney - Dig Me Out *
Spiritualized - Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space
Squarepusher - Hard Normal Daddy
Stereolab - Dots and Loops *
Supergrass - In It for the Money
Verve - Urban Hymns
Wilco - Being There *
Yo La Tengo - I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One
Spice Girls - Spice and Spiceworld!

* my faves
posted by mrgrimm at 10:00 AM on July 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Do you think Michael Jackson's Dangerous album, REM's Out Of Time, and Ace of Base have aged well?

I do. Particularly Ace of Base. I love me some Ace of Base.


Ace of Base has aged OK, but I dare you to say it with a straight face about Dangerous or Out of Time. I love R.E.M., but Out of Time has to be one of their worst albums (Around the Sun?). Give me Automatic, Murmur, LRP, Reckoning, Accelerator, or even Monster or Green instead.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:08 AM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


(actually, if you delete Shiny Happy People and Radio Song and you put big heavy blankets and pillows over the speakers and turn it up real loud, Out of Time has aged pretty well)

I'll put 1997 again 1991 any day:

There are several albums there that I, personally, like more than most of what 1991 had to offer. Nevertheless, there's not a game changer album on that list, whereas 1991 had several albums that literally changed the face of popular music for a decade.

Personally, I think The Lonesome Crowded West, Brighten the Corners, Homogenic, and OK Computer, among others of that year, are all better albums than Nevermind, Ten, or the Black Album. But the cultural 180 that happened starting with Nevermind, Ten, The Black Album, and Blood Sugar Sex Magik was just so huge, regardless of the actual musical merits of the albums.

And, actually, I'd put 1998 in the game, too, if we're talking about great years for album releases.

Ultimately, though, the best years ever for album releases were 1969 and 1986.
posted by The World Famous at 10:24 AM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


No no no this is the song off Perfect From Now On.
posted by neuromodulator at 11:23 AM on July 27, 2011


Ultimately, though, the best years ever for album releases were 1969 and 1986.

You forgot to take your pills again, Grandpa.
posted by entropicamericana at 11:37 AM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dude, they are ALL "the song" off Perfect from Now On. That's why it's so great. Untrustable/Part 2 was the highlight the last time I saw them.

Nevertheless, there's not a game changer album on that list

I will disagree with you there. I'd say OK Computer, Homogenic, and Being There are game changers for sure.

Ultimately, though, the best years ever for album releases were 1969 and 1986.

I'd say the best years ever for album releases were 1970 to 1979. :p

(I'm not sure what you see in 1986. I'd take 1987 on first glance. TTD and early Neneh Cherry, FTW!)
posted by mrgrimm at 11:47 AM on July 27, 2011


Mr. Grimm: Built To Spill on the most excellent mosh cam.

The Spiritualized set is also great.
posted by neuromodulator at 12:08 PM on July 27, 2011


You forgot to take your pills again, Grandpa.

You are aware, are you not, of an invention called "recorded music" whereby one can listen to music created previously, including music that came out before the birth of the listener?

I will disagree with you there. I'd say OK Computer, Homogenic, and Being There are game changers for sure.

What far-reaching cultural phenomenon was triggered by any of those albums?

I'm not sure what you see in 1986.

I'll just pick through and pick out the ones I, personally, think are great from 1986:

The Smiths - The Queen Is Dead
Run DMC - Raising Hell
PIL - Album
Metallica - Master of Puppets
Sonic Youth - EVOL
Depeche Mode - Black Celebration
Hüsker Dü - Candy Apple Grey
Cocteau Twins - Victorialand
This Mortal Coil - Filigree and Shadow
Siouxie and the Banshees - Tinderbox
Peter Gabriel - So
Crowded House - Crowded House
The Sisterhood - Gift
REM - Life's Rich Pageant
54-40
Midnight Oil - Diesel and Dust
Motorhead - Orgasmatron
Camper Van Beethoven - Camper Van Beethoven
Love and Rockets - Express
Throwing Muses - Throwing Muses
The Fall - Bend Sinister
New Order - Brotherhood
Iron Maiden - Somewhere In Time
Big Black - Atomizer
Billy Bragg - Talking With The Taxman about Poetry
Talking Heads - True Stories
XTC - Skylarking
Nick Cave - Your Funeral . . . My Trial
Kate Bush - The Whole Story
Frank Zappa - Jazz From Hell
Killing Joke - Brighter Than A Thousand Suns
Bad Brains - I Against I
Beastie Boys - License To Ill
The Damned - Anything
The Cramps - A Date With Elvis
Coil - Horse Rotorvator
The The - Infected
Front Line Assembly - Nerve War


1986 was a hell of a year for music.
posted by The World Famous at 12:14 PM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I will disagree with you there. I'd say OK Computer, Homogenic, and Being There are game changers for sure.

What far-reaching cultural phenomenon was triggered by any of those albums?


Coldplay.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:26 PM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's a very strong argument for 1986 but I will argue that most of those albums did not penetrate suburbia and FM Radio. Having grown up in suburbia I can tell you that the only thing on your list you would have heard on the radio and on MTV (unless you were staying up for 120 Minutes) is Peter Gabriel and Midnight Oil. Whereas in 1991...everything was on the radio and MTV and permeated through nearly every demographic. But, I would argue that 1991 could not have happened without your 1986 list.
posted by spicynuts at 12:38 PM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's a very strong argument for 1986 but I will argue that most of those albums did not penetrate suburbia and FM Radio. Having grown up in suburbia I can tell you that the only thing on your list you would have heard on the radio and on MTV (unless you were staying up for 120 Minutes) is Peter Gabriel and Midnight Oil.

Um, I was in suburbia at the same time, and I definitely remember exposure to The Smiths, Run DMC, Metalica, Depeche Mode, Crowded House, REM, Talking Heads, XTC, and Beastie Boys off this list.

And Paul Simon's Graceland, which also came out that year and is not on The World Famous' list.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:36 PM on July 27, 2011


And Paul Simon's Graceland, which also came out that year and is not on The World Famous' list.

I can't believe I forgot to put that on the list. Yeah, that's one of the greats. I stand by 1986 as one of the best music years ever.

That's a very strong argument for 1986 but I will argue that most of those albums did not penetrate suburbia and FM Radio. Having grown up in suburbia I can tell you that the only thing on your list you would have heard on the radio and on MTV (unless you were staying up for 120 Minutes) is Peter Gabriel and Midnight Oil.

Really? Fight For Your Right To Party and Walk This Way didn't make it to the suburbs where you lived? They were on heavy rotation on MTV all day everyday and they brought hip hop and rap to the masses and changed the face of modern music in a more enduring and far-reaching way than Nevermind did.

Not on my list above but also released in 1986 was Janet Jackson's Control album, which, though not of my preferred genre, is a brilliant album that made her a megastar. Prince's Parade album also came out in 1986, which is the album that Kiss is on.

The big deal about Nevermind and the other "grunge" albums of 1991 was not that suddenly there was really good music. There had been great music - better music and more of it - for years and years. Nevermind was a game changer because it somehow broke through to the sort of people who, in the '80s, were pushing Dancing On The Ceiling (1986) and The Final Countdown (1986) to the top of the charts.

1991 wasn't the year that music suddenly got good. It wasn't even objectively one of the great years for albums in the last 40 or so years. But, as I think is supported by your observation about what was played on the radio in 1986 compared to what was being released on major labels and indies alike, 1991 was the year when good music finally got noticed by the popular kids. Were the great albums of 1991 better or more plentiful than the great albums of 1986 (or 85, 84, 83, etc.)? No. Were they more popular? Yes.

Still, though, I have to return to Run DMC and the Beastie Boys in 1986. They were more of a game changer than Nirvana, I think. And yeah, even in the sleepy midwest suburb where I was entering high school in 1986, you couldn't turn on the radio or MTV without hearing Fight For Your Right To Party and Walk This Way.

But, I would argue that 1991 could not have happened without your 1986 list.

I agree.
posted by The World Famous at 1:39 PM on July 27, 2011


(Ok, I may have got a little carried away there by saying 91 wasn't objectively one of the great years for albums in the last 40 years or so. I take that back.)
posted by The World Famous at 1:40 PM on July 27, 2011


The World Famous: Still, though, I have to return to Run DMC and the Beastie Boys in 1986. They were more of a game changer than Nirvana, I think.

Depends on which game you're watching.
posted by herbplarfegan at 1:55 PM on July 27, 2011


Depends on which game you're watching.

Care to elaborate?
posted by The World Famous at 2:12 PM on July 27, 2011


Well, the Beasties and Run DMC are important to many people who don't have any interest in grunge/indie rock, and vice versa. Hence.. different 'games.'

If, though, by

They were more of a game changer than Nirvana, I think.

, you meant in their respective styles of music (as in DMC/Beasties were more influential to their style than Nirvana was to rock), that makes some sense to me, but I wouldn't really know enough to compare the two, since, though I dig and respect the artists you mentioned, I didn't have much of a love for hip hop, so I haven't participation on both sides to compare.

If you meant in music overall, that's why I say it's different for different people-- today, Lady BlahGag is, like, totally really important and meaningful and real and stuff to a staggering amount of people, but my radar is fixed on an entirely different section of the sky. That's what I mean.
posted by herbplarfegan at 2:23 PM on July 27, 2011


Ah. When I said "game changer," was referring to the effect of those particular albums/singles as flashpoints for far-reaching changes in the overall pop music landscape. Fight For Your Right and Walk This Way were the flashpoint for the mainstream acceptance of and enthusiasm for rap and hip hop as a staple of top 40 pop music that continues to this day and that has dominated the charts and the global music market without significant interruption ever since. Smells Like Teen Spirit was the flashpoint for the mainstream acceptance of and enthusiasm for angry post-punk guitar rock that spawned a bunch of bands like Candlebox, Bush, Live, and Creed and lasted for about six years at most.

Look at pop music from 2001 through 2011. What is more apparent? The mainstream acceptance and popularity of hip hop and rap or the mainstream acceptance and popularity of grunge? What has a longer and more lasting legacy in terms of its effect on popular music - Smells Like Teen Spirit or Walk This Way?
posted by The World Famous at 2:37 PM on July 27, 2011


I think you could make a case that Ok Computer was a gamechanger in melding rock and electronic music. Certainly it wasn't the first time anyone tried that, but it was really the first big mainstream album to do that unless you count the Spawn soundtrack.

The only other album I can think of off the top of my head that made this breakthrough was DJ Shadow's Endtroducing, which came at it from the opposite direction (a dj using live instruments and samples vs. a rock band using loops and drum tracks). Interestingly, that album was released at the end of '96. had to look that up, making me feel silly when I remembered the track 'Why Hip Hop Sucks In '96"
posted by mannequito at 2:49 PM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ah actually just looked it up - the Spawn soundtrack came out after those two albums.

Endtroducing - released November 96
Ok Computer - released June 97
Spawn - released July 97
posted by mannequito at 2:51 PM on July 27, 2011


And Paul Simon's Graceland, which also came out that year and is not on The World Famous' list.

I can't believe I forgot to put that on the list. Yeah, that's one of the greats.


I should just back away slowly, eyeing everyone suspiciously at this point.

Fight For Your Right and Walk This Way were the flashpoint for the mainstream acceptance of and enthusiasm for rap and hip hop as a staple of top 40 pop music

Novelty songs made popular mostly because of white rappers, and rock-rap crossover marketing. I think you're projecting your experience. I might as well say that Rapper's Delight and White Lines did the same thing, especially depending on which country you're talking about.

The modern mainstream (defined as "commercially popular") acceptance and popularity of hip hop or rap in the US is mostly due to:

* MC Hammer - U Can't Touch This
* Vanilla Ice - Ice, Ice Baby

Those were (among) the first songs to break the pop top 10.

On preview, Endtroducing was certainly a game changer imo, and yet I'm certain several people will argue he was derivative of some other person, etc.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:07 PM on July 27, 2011


Definitely. Again, just off the top of my head, DJ Spooky comes to mind, and he released his first album in April 96.
posted by mannequito at 3:11 PM on July 27, 2011


It depends on what you mean by "electronic music." I'm not sure that term has a very clear meaning. I'd agree that OK Computer cultivated a mainstream taste for a certain limited style of electronic-sounding rock made using analog (i.e. non-electronic) delay effects, mellotron, theremins, organs, and that sort of thing that people mistake for electronic music. I happen to really like that style, too (in fact, I'm currently working on an album sort of in that genre, but a lot more electronic), and I think of OK Computer as being a watershed moment in terms of production technique. But compared to the prog-rock of the 70s and the new wave and even a lot of the pop-metal of the 80s, OK Computer is not all that electronic. And it's nowhere near as much rock or as electronic as Edgar Winter's Frankenstein or Yes' Fragile album.

But rock bands had heavily used synthesizers for decades by then. Iron Maiden's Somewhere In Time album has more (and more obvious) synths on it than OK Computer. Def Leppard's Hysteria album is basically an electronic album with a couple guitar tracks thrown in to keep the longhairs happy. You can't throw a stone at a pile of top-40 '80s rock records without hitting a synthesizer. Not to mention the whole genre of prog-rock and synths used in everything from Edgar Winter to Led Zeppelin.

But actually, that sort of goes back to the reasons for Nevermind's popularity and its nature as a game-changer. Nevermind wasn't particularly original or different from a lot of what had come before. But it reached an audience that had never before been reached by that particular sound. And it did that by being more tightly-written, more efficiently packaged musically, more pleasingly mixed and produced (those overcompressed and chorused guitars I referred to earlier) and really smoothly mastered and by hitting just at exactly the right moment. There's some of that to OK Computer, too. And yeah, OK Computer is a really properly brilliant album (though I personally think Terror Twilight was Nigel Godrich's production masterpiece, not OK Computer).

Novelty songs made popular mostly because of white rappers, and rock-rap crossover marketing.

Yes. Exactly.

I might as well say that Rapper's Delight and White Lines did the same thing, especially depending on which country you're talking about.

Yes. And you'd be right, too. Just like I'd be right in the same way to say that the Sex Pistols or the Stooges or the Ramones did the same thing as Nirvana. Remember that Ramones video that was in super heavy rotation on MTV and on the radio in 1989?

Those were (among) the first songs to break the pop top 10.

If by "among" you mean along with Run DMC's top 5 hit in 1986 and the album, Raising Hell, which hit #3 on the billboard chart four years before those songs? U Can't Touch This peaked at #8. Walk This Way peaked at #4.

As for "Ice Ice Baby," weren't you the one dismissing the Beastie Boys as a novelty act based on the fact that they're white?
posted by The World Famous at 3:20 PM on July 27, 2011


Yeah, essentially we're saying the same thing - both Nevermind and Ok Computer took elements that had existed for years and molded them into something that the mainstream just ate up, opening the floodgates for tons of other bands.

It seems like you can judge the results by what's popular about 10 years later, which makes sense because the people who are going to be most affected by a new musical revolution are teenagers.

Approx. 10 years after Nevermind came out we had the garage/indie/analog revival (Strokes, White Stripes etc.) And nowadays virtually all the popular new rock music is leaning heavily on drum machines, keyboards and samples (if I was hip and with it I'd toss out some names here, but I've mostly been listening to experimental hip hop and bluegrass lately).
posted by mannequito at 3:41 PM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, rap and bleep bloop stuff seems a lot more popular than pure guitar driven rock, though Foo Fighters are still huge in Aus.


Approx. 10 years after Nevermind came out we had the garage/indie/analog revival (Strokes, White Stripes etc.) And nowadays virtually all the popular new rock music is leaning heavily on drum machines, keyboards and samples (if I was hip and with it I'd toss out some names here, but I've mostly been listening to experimental hip hop and bluegrass lately).


Yeah, its really hard to avoid that fake stuff.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:42 PM on July 27, 2011


Really? Fight For Your Right To Party and Walk This Way didn't make it to the suburbs where you lived?

You picked two giant hits out of your list. The majority of bands on your list, while among my favorites, were in zero way penetrated into heavy rotation on either MTV or radio. For example:

Sonic Youth, This Mortal Coil, Throwing Muses, Cocteau Twins, Killing Joke, Front Line Assembly, BIG BLACK FOR FUCK'S SAKE.

Going down to the mall and hitting Book And Record or Camelot or the local chain record store, NONE of those albums would be on display or even available. They certainly were not at Kmart. In 1986 indie labels like 4AD meant nothing to the average consumer of music and were not even on most kids' radar. Yeah, the 3 black clad or spike haired kids in your art class had all that shit, but they went into NYC to get them. I mean, unless you were in NYC, Chicago or Detroit, do you think the manager of your mall record store ever heard of Alternative Tentacles, TVT, Shimmy Disc, Nettwerk, or Wax Trax?

By contrast, in 1991, Tower Records carried ALL that shit, displayed it prominently, and had rising chain competitors like Virgin and HMV penetrating malls and suburbia and carrying everything you saw on MTV in regular rotation and on 120 Minutes. Bands were quickly moving off Sub Pop and getting either major label deals (regardless of what it said on the actual label) or at minimum major distribution deals. You could easily find The Pixies next to Guns N Roses and Ministry next to Motley Crue.

Yeah, Beastie Boys and Run DMC hit the culture huge, but they needed whiteness to get the white, corporate FM giants to even consider playing them. Did RunDMC playing with Aerosmith on MTV get ChuckD or NWA on the radio? No. But by 1991 you could hear real hip hop alongside rock, shoe-gazer, popified punk and industrial on the radio.

I guess what I'm saying is, your list is awesome from a music lovers perspective, but ask most adults today who were teens in 86 who This Mortal Coil or Big Black is, they would have no idea. Ask them who Blur, Primus and The KLF are...yeah.

Actually, I don't know why I'm arguing this at all because I don't believe in the whole 'music was better in x year' argument. I've been in fucking love with music since the day my cousin gave me my first KISS album at 7 years old and I've never stopped having a year where I bought 5 to 6 albums that just blew me away.
posted by spicynuts at 11:23 PM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'll put 1997 again 1991 any day:

This tells me more about the sort of music you like, than anything else. Your lists are pretty much delineated by genre. 1997 has more electronic, shoegazer, britpop.
posted by rodgerd at 12:59 AM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I love R.E.M., but Out of Time has to be one of their worst albums

I'll stand up for Out of Time, of only because I love Texarkana so darn much - that alone males the album worthwhile.
posted by naoko at 8:29 AM on July 28, 2011


You picked two giant hits out of your list.

I must not have made clear that I was specifically responding to this:

Having grown up in suburbia I can tell you that the only thing on your list you would have heard on the radio and on MTV (unless you were staying up for 120 Minutes) is Peter Gabriel and Midnight Oil.

I was just disagreeing with that specific statement by pointing out two things on my list other than Peter Gabriel and Midnight Oil that were in heavy rotation on the radio and MTV in 1986.

By contrast, in 1991, Tower Records carried ALL that shit, displayed it prominently, and had rising chain competitors like Virgin and HMV penetrating malls and suburbia and carrying everything you saw on MTV in regular rotation and on 120 Minutes.

I agree with the point you seem to be making, that the big difference between 1986 and 1991 (aside from the sheer number of great albums released in 1986 compared to 1991) was not the quality of the music but the commercialization of music that people like you and me liked. Our generation was coming of age and our increased buying power had finally influenced the mainstream commercial market. And when that happened, it helped lots of people who previously didn't understand how great that music was to finally realize it, which caused an even bigger bump in demand and popularity. I would argue that Smells Like Teen Spirit represents the flashpoint for that bigger bump.

I mean, unless you were in NYC, Chicago or Detroit, do you think the manager of your mall record store ever heard of Alternative Tentacles, TVT, Shimmy Disc, Nettwerk, or Wax Trax?

When I read that sentence, I realized that I may be thinking of my midwestern suburban upbringing in a bit different way than you are. I grew up in suburban Detroit and never thought of where I grew up as somewhere with unique access or exposure to music. Yes, we (the alternative/post-punk kids, anyway) grew up with Alternative Tentacles, Wax Trax, SST, Sub Pop, etc. Driving all over the city to different indie record stores to dig for indies and imports was just what we did after school, and it seemed totally normal.

Because so much of that music came from elsewhere, we didn't think of Detroit as being special, but instead thought about how awesome it would be to live in Chicago or New York or London or Australia where the really great bands were and where, we assumed, you could just walk into any old record store and find racks and racks of the stuff we thought was cool. The stuff coming out of Detroit was all made by people we knew or sort of half-knew from sharing the bill for club gigs around town and that sort of thing, so it didn't seem special in the same way as some rare import vinyl from a trusted indie label.

So I have never thought of Detroit as being a unique spot for exposure to great music in the '80s. That may come in part from the fact that my wife is from Utah, where the most popular radio station in the 80s played all that indie/alternative stuff all the time. Whenever I visited Utah in the 80s, I was shocked that such a lame place would have such an amazing radio station.
posted by The World Famous at 10:05 AM on July 28, 2011


Amanda Palmer's cover of Polly was floating around the Twitters a week or two ago, and I forgot to look it up (since I have the Twitters on my phone, and anything non-text-or-picture based doesn't go so well). So for that reason alone, I thank you for this post. I likes it. Will have to check out the rest later.
posted by antifuse at 12:53 PM on July 28, 2011


And may I just say, that TOTALLY sounds like what I'd expect Neil Gaiman's wife to produce as a cover of that song.
posted by antifuse at 12:54 PM on July 28, 2011


SPIN posted my comic strip online...
(I know, self link! Forgive me.)
posted by JBennett at 1:25 PM on July 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


JBennett, I liked your comic.
posted by drezdn at 7:36 PM on July 28, 2011


Excellent comic!
posted by OmieWise at 7:00 AM on July 29, 2011


kudos, JBennett. flawless.
posted by herbplarfegan at 1:26 PM on July 29, 2011


Thanks for reading it.
posted by JBennett at 9:12 PM on July 29, 2011


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