Thursday, May 20, 2010

Nirvana - Unit Shifters/ Live at the Paramount Theatre 10.31.91 (3 CD)

Compilation (single artist)

It's been awhile since I've had anything worthwhile to say about Nirvana, but during one stretch of my life they were my favorite band; you know, during that ancient pre CD-R era when you actually had to make mix tapes if you wanted to go the DIY route. The funny thing is, I can't really speak now as to why their music had such a profound effect on me back then. I mean, I'm certain it had something to do with the collective angst my generation was experiencing at the time, but saying something like that just sounds so hollow and cliched nowadays. I'm still currently experiencing my fair share of angst and torment (who isn't?) but more often than not I find myself turning to stuff that's catchy and soothing in order to alleviate it, rather than screaming along with some guy who's clearly experiencing more pain than I am.

But that's just it. I can lose myself in sweet harmonies and inventive chord changes, but whatever happened to Losing My Shit? The actual, honest to goodness catharsis? The smashing of guitars or the punching holes in walls? The screaming and crying? The cutting and cigarette burns?

Well somewhere along the line I clearly lost the plot. I mean, I'm listening to fucking Fountains of Wayne as I type this, so draw your own conclusions, right?

Nirvana is no longer a band that represents who I am or what I am about, but like many of you I still carry on fond (if largely mixed) memories of the era that they defined.

SCENE: 1992. A large record store in Brownsville, Texas. Mark and Jason, two teenage boys, are studiously examining a row of cassette tapes under a section marked "Rock".

MARK: ...Ahh, Eugenius! These guys are fucking great!


MARK: Well you've heard of the Vaselines, right? The head guy Eugene Kelly started this band called Captain America, and Kurt was going to take them out on the road but Marvel Comics sued Captain America, so they had to change their name to Eugenius.

JASON: Yeah, Catherine and I were supposed to get tickets to go see Nirvana this summer when they come through Houston, but now that we broke up I seriously doubt I'm going to go... Hey do you think the Pixies are ever going to get back together?

MARK: (Clearly ignoring what Jason just told him.) ...And he's going to get the Raincoats out on the road with him, and probably Tad or Flipper. It's fucking amazing, man! He's getting all these bands he likes that nobody's heard of and he's dragging them right into the mainstream with him!

JASON: (Cautiously looks around store before stealthfully sliding the Eugenius cassette underneath his flannel.) Hey, whatever you say, man.

So what's this all about then? Well clearly the memories have been recurring for me as of late, and rather than dwell on them for much longer, the thought occurred to me that I might just re-experience a bit of the old catharsis by reexamining Nirvana with the benefit of 15 years of hindsight. Now I could lay it all on you-- the rush of raw emotion that kicked in upon hearing the opening chords of "Aneurysm"; the sudden, mad urge to pogo to "Been a Son"; the beautiful-as-a-rock-in-a-cop's-face pop perfection of "Sliver"-- but maybe it's better that you just listen to it with fresh ears so that you can draw your own conclusions.

Rather than compile my own thing here, which would have distracted me from the major task at hand of getting L.A. Gemstones 2.0 out to you on time, I'm going to cheat and hook you up with a comp my man Beckner aka HeftySums hooked me up with awhile back. Honestly, he's definitely the guy you want in charge of a Nirvana comp anyway, because he's got all the hard-to-find non-LP b-sides, compilation tracks and sundry live cuts available on a brilliant set he put together called Unit Shifters. Also from my personal collection, a soundboard of the legendary 1991 Halloween show they put on at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle.

Well, I'm off to search for more memories in the bottom of a bottle of Glenlivet. Enjoy the 'choons.


  1. You probably read this by this point, but in case you haven't, I think you should check it out.

    The Onion AVClub has been running a bi-monthly feature about 90s "alternative" rock that seem to share your sentiments on it. It's a ten part series, but these links are the Nirvana/Kurt Cobain focused pieces.,45892/,46507/,48366/

  2. haha. I just noticed that the first link on your recommended links sections was the AVclub.


  3. Sorry for the late response, but I read that! Steven Hyden, right?


  4. Can you share these links again. I've been listening to Nirvana again lately. Thanks