Nirvana Nevermind- 1991
RMR Album Rating- 7
Contrary to popular belief, Nirvana didn’t want to be the poster boys for grunge music.
In fact, after their debut album, “Bleach,” they were actually trying to move away from the grunge sound and create something more mainstream, so they certainly succeed with “Nevermind,” through which much of the world heard a slightly toned down version of grunge music for the first time.
The big hitters of the record are all on the first half. “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” “In Bloom,” Come as You Are,” and “Lithium” were all released as massively successful singles, and they all had videos in heavy rotation on MTV. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” was certainly the champion of these, but all four tracks are great, and they will all be forever synonymous with grunge music.
Click here to listen to Smells Like Teen Spirit
Click here to listen to In Bloom
Click here to listen to Come As You Are
Click here to listen to Lithium
Although the second half of the album doesn’t get nearly as much attention as the first half, it still holds its own. Side-2 opens with “Territorial Pissings,” which is one of heaviest songs on the album. There’s also “Drain You” and “I’m on a Plain,” which are my two favorite songs from the album. Cobain wrote “Drain You” about his girlfriend Toby Veil. I love the opening lyrics of “One baby to another/ says I’m lucky to have met you/ I don’t care what you think/ unless it is about me/ it is now my duty to completely drain you.” Cobain’s and Veil’s relationship was coming to an end, and I think the lyrics illustrate a bitter sweet acceptance of this. “I’m on a Plain,” is extremely catchy, but its drug inspired lyrics are some of Cobain’s most telling and sad, as the song opens with Cobain singing that “I’ll start this off without any words/ I got so high I scratched ’till I bled/ I love myself better than you/ I know it’s wrong so what should I do?” Many fans interpret the “you” in the song as a reference to be Heroin.
Click here to listen to Drain You
Click here to listen to On A Plain
All the songs on “Nevermind” are good; they’re all catchy, and they completely set the stage for the outpour of grunge and alternative rock that immersed the music scene throughout the 90’s. Nirvana might not have wanted to be the poster boys for grunge music, but they certainly brought it to the mainstream, and the impact and change that they brought to the music scene was one of the biggest in all of rock’s history, and bands very rarely do that.
Grunge was a complete departure from the shiny, over-polished AOR and hair-metal sound that dominated the 80’s, so it’s interesting that “Smells Like Teen Spirit” borrows its main guitar riff from Boston’s signature AOR song “More Than A Feeling.” Cobain has confirmed in interviews that he was a fan of Boston and was inspired by the riff. (Click here to listen to Boston’s More Than a Feeling)
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