ISSUE #4 - 1989

Nirvana -- Nevermind,     DGC
    (keep in mind that this review was written before all the brouhaha, but 1'm too lazy to rethink it)
    Nice product, guys. An album that will probably be chaulked up as one of the great gtr-powered alt albums of the early 90's, sharing the bill with such illustrious car stereo favorites as Sonic Youth's Goo and Dinosaur Jr.'s Green Mind. An album - to soothe the souls of those wondering what they were going to do with their long hair now that Sub Pop has gone Chap. 11 belly-up (financially and aesthetically). Get this, kid, the "rock" has gone "corporate" and I don't think anybody with a Soundgarden t-shirt will think it "sucks". As a matter of fact, Nevermind could be an apologist retread of Mudhon's fated second album (an Icarus act that those without ears couldn't miss), REVENGE! The rock's heavy as shit, all bass fat, cracking sputter drums, gtrs and vocals that slash the tires out from under this Mack truck. And, oh yeah, the wide-as-the-Arizna-sky pop hooks, hooks that the Buzzcocks would be proud of. All served up with that post-Eighties ersatz-punk energy via 70's hard rock chunk, lyrics combining volumes of sleepy cynicism with whiny lonely-boy pathos and the moral truth telling of our desperate times. Irony, wordplay, and vague flirtations with seaminess. Ta-bump. "Go forth and multiply ...inseminate a million markets".
    Not as completely empty as it is boring, Nevermind is a winking reminder of how eternally vapid the human race is. Nirvana push all the right buttons to make your hips shake but the only beat I end up hearing is the slap of David Geffen's fat thighs against their young collective behind. Butch Vig, throned, twiddling nobs for the pleasure of all, The album has all the symptoms of the tried-and-true LP formula; the fascinating, undeniably brilliant first track/single ("Smells Like Teen Spirit"), the acoustic ballad ("Polly"), the sweeping final cut ("Something In The Way", replete with tasteful cello), and a host of slightly differentiated rock tunes that leave a whistle in your mouth and a hum in your colon. All of which make Nirvana the postmodern equvalent of Cheap Trick. Those, of course, who found Robin Zander + friends an intriguing phenomenon will be notably pleased by Nevermind.
    And the fact is, these boyo's might actually be big time hot stuff in a Top 40 way by the time youd read this. Along with Soundgarden, Jane's Addiction, Smashing Pumpkins, and their ilk, Nirvana are making a run on the mass market, difference with N. being that they've got the hooks to do it (not to mention the money behind them; the smokescreen of conflicting reports regarding their advance is daunting, but be sure that it was at least in the realm of five digits). "Smells Like Teen spirit'' resembles several collegiate hits of years past, with such disparate items as "Blood And Roses" by the Smithereens, "Gigantic" by the Pixies, and Mudhoney's "Need" coming immediately to mind. Add the fact that the song's ball-crushing chorus lifts ts chord progression directly from Blue Oyster Cult's "Godzilla" (and its intro from Monster Magnet's "Freakshop USA", if ya wanna get paranoid) and you've either got a great argument for the Cultural Brain or an accusation of grand theft.
    "Smells Like Teen $pirit" is instantly recognizable, resonating thick nickel-wound strings in the souls of those even vaguely familiar with the "real" rock. Combining an eerie, borderline-dangerous atmos with the crunch of a hyped-up grunge umph, but with a tossable pop feel (after two days with it you'll move on to the next trick), all style and flashy moves, it guarantees Nirvana's fifteen minutes, if nothing else. Along with the video, a stylish, noir-ish, and seductive clip, it's not just a band rising from the slime of the underground and into the lap of the gods, it's now a genre move, a "kool thing", a sexy slick and sold-out piece of crap, but it's alright, it's got a good riff, it rocks...
   -Ed Sullivan

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