Nirvana's "Nevermind" - why?

As anyone over the age of 35 knows, this Washington state band came out of seemingly nowhere in the fall of 1991 with an album that reached #1 in almost every nation in the world that keeps a chart. Subsequent releases were lackluster, and the band dissolved after Kurt Cobain’s 1994 suicide. The drummer, Dave Grohl, has gone on to a massively successful career with the Foo Fighters and other projects; who ever thought HE would be the real heart and soul of that band?

They had an album prior to “Nevermind” called “Bleach”, and my brother did play several tracks from it when he was a college radio DJ in the late 1980s. He also told me that if a time traveler had told him at the time that their next album would be a smash worldwide hit, he would never have believed it.

My opinion of it? It creeped me out.

Dopers, what’s your opinion? Did you ever see Nirvana, and what were their live shows like?

Never saw them in person, but was there just before “Nevermind” hit big. I think your brother was insane if he heard “Bleach,” and couldn’t predict future success for the band.

One of their secrets/reasons for success is that Nirvana had very catchy melodies buried within the grunge.

Listen to their unplugged album if you doubt it.

Please explain.

Creeped you out? As a huge classic rock fan they and Beck reaffirmed my faith that good music was still a possibility.

As someone whose rock sensibilities were formed in the late sixties to mid seventies I gotta say the video for *Smells Like Teen Spirit *rocked my world! It neatly summed up my fears for the generation that was coming up behind mine. Cheerleaders with tattoos? OMG! Seems kind of funny now but seemed so dystopian at the time.

Right on cue my NPR station is playing some classical group doing Nirvana covers. Very cool!

I’m on the fence as to whether success was predictable. I was in college at the time and the college rock station played SLTS a couple weeks before it became big. On the one hand, it was memorable that I recognized it when it came on. On the other hand, it didn’t stand out as something different from what was going on at the time, just memorable if that makes sense.

But I disagree with MMM in that the melodies were right up front! Especially in Come as You Are, but there is even some very noticable melody in SLTS: at least compared to the music at the time, very few bands would insert that seemingly egregious two-note guitar hook before the verse: it wasn’t much but it’s two notes more than most bands do!

I agree. I was heavily involved in college radio from about 89-90 through 1993. Bleach was a big deal for us and there was enough buzz in the alternative press about the follow up album that all of us knew it was going to go big.

Now realistically, ‘big’ as we understood it was nothing like what happened. We were certainly thinking in indie terms, not mainstream success.

The fact is that it was increased production that spelled the difference between Bleach and Nevermind. When Geffen records brought in Andy Wallace to rework the mix of Nevermind it brought out the melodies and hooks of the songs and produced what became a watershed record. Without Wallace’s work, it’s possible that - however strong the songs (and only 2-3 were really that strong) - Nevermind wouldn’t have been accessible to radio and mainstream music buyers.

Was Bleach the one that had Grandma Take Me Home on it?

The title of the song is “Sliver.” It was originally released as a single in 1990 and later on the Incesticide rarities compilation.

For me when I was a teen then it was all about the self hate stuff. Emo was sad and lonely but it was all too pretty and took too much effort. Grunge was sad and angry and dirty but not just like metal. It was still poetic. Close enough to metal to rock but our guys were wearing sweaters.

Also, at that time everything on the radio was love songs by very polished and put-together white folks, or tidy rap by very colorful and non-threatening rap groups. There was nothing for any kid to relate to.

Disgusting guys with awful hair and dirty clothes who screamed and said they felt stupid and contagious? Yes please.

I love the Foo Fighters and think Grohl is probably more musically talented than Cobain, but to say that he was “the real heart and soul” of Nirvana is so ridiculous, I probably can’t comment further on that without breaking a couple of rules, so I’ll just leave it at that. Ridiculous.

Definitely one of my top three concert memories! (But post-concert events probably contributed to that…) I’ll never forget Cobain looking up and pointing at the neon Hard Rock Cafe guitar in the distance of the Miami skyline and, after some pointed words, invited everybody to go throw rocks at it after the show! Now, several of his guitars and all kinds of other Nirvana memorabilia regularly plaster their walls all over the world, and the Seattle Hard Rock’s own neon sign is a replica of his guitar from SLTS. :rolleyes:

So, did you go throw rocks at that sign?

If that wasn’t the memorable thing that you did, I don’t need those details. :wink:

No, that would have been a very bad idea for several reasons, the least of which would have been the distinct inability to aim properly.

I remember a conversation I had with a friend in college in 1994. He was obsessed with Nirvana in a major way. I liked them too, but I was getting a really sick of his constant references to the band, their songs and Cobain. I mean the dude was creepily hung up on Cobain.

One day, I put in Weezer’s Blue Album and was jamming ‘Buddy Holly.’ So my friend says “What the fuck is this shit?” He naturally segued into some Nirvana talk, and in frustration I said “Dude, in 20 years Weezer will be selling out shows and Nirvana will be fucking nothing.”

I didn’t really believe it when I said it (and my friend laughed at me), but it makes me look like a damn psychic now. :slight_smile:

Bleach is a better album than Nevermind, IMO. I had Bleach for something like 2 years before Nevermind came out, and yeah, it was a sure thing that it was gonna be good but nobody foresaw the reaction of the general public to it.

Also agree that Cobain was just one of those people who have a knack for simple catchy melodies and that’s ultimately what fueled their popularity.

ETA: Not sure why you think that makes you look psychic, Happy.

I saw them live once, and they were pretty much what you would expect…loud, grungy rock. I thought they were amazing.

Well looking into it, it appears the Blue Album came out after Cobain offed himself. So apparently it doesn’t make me psychic. Oh, muddled memories…