was the last Nirvana album
released while Kurt Cobain
was still alive. Record
ed over three weeks with the help of Steve Albini
*, this album is much more heart attack
-inducing than Nevermind
in its mix
ing and production
. Without getting into Kurt Cobain
, it's very clear throughout the album that Nirvana
was trying very hard
" feel and sound
. The bass
on the drums
the whole recording
, is very strong, the guitar accented towards lousiness (it's much easier to hear the mistakes in the guitar playing. Precision
, Kurt Cobain
used to say, is unimportant). The bass
, again, is very hard to find, more a result of the bassline's similarity to the chord
s of the guitar
, than lack of proper production
. The drums pick up where the bass is lacking, anyway. Even though the album was only recorded over a period of three weeks, it is well produced, even if Scott Litt
did come in to re-record the vocals.
By this time (1993), the people are used to Nirvana and the screaming, the guitar destruction, the heroin addiction rumours. It seems that while Cobain's lyrics more clearly state his feelings about his life and emotions, it is easy to notice that there is much more of an attempt to actually write lyrics, words that make sense. On Nevermind, and even the compilation album Incesticide, there are no clear lyrics. Cobain thought that lyrics were secondary to the music. Sometimes, he would write lyrics at the last minute just to get the song recorded. Then again, maybe the only reason the lyrics were any more clear is because they were included in the album's liner notes.
I will admit I don't have as much to say about the tracks on this album, in comparison to Nevermind. These were songs, with wailing, screaming and angst. That's about it.
1. Serve the Servants is an example of how Cobain's guitar playing has improved, to include - heaven preserve us! - picking! In most interviews, biopic articles, and other trash regarding Nirvana, this is the song which is always compared to Cobain's life. I dislike it, but here's the portion of the lyrics they always coin:
Teenaged angst has paid off well
Now I'm bored and old
2. Scentless Apprentice - the only thing I really like about this song is Dave Grohl's drumming. While he's no Neil Peart, that open drum beat--which is only slightly deviated from throughout the whole song--is really catchy.
3. Heart-Shaped Box was the only single to be released off this album, and probably the album's best song.
4. Rape Me, sometimes called Waif Me on the album jacket. Critics often claim that this song is Smells Like Teen Spirit all over again, but this song has a more mature feel to it, despite the whole album's not-Butch Vig sound.
5. Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle: another one that writers pull lyrics and whatnot out of, especially due to the title of the song, having to do with Frances Farmer. (These authors, people who work at magazines like Guitar World or Rolling Stone, always chime in with, 'that's also what he named his daughter--Frances.')
6. Dumb is a fairly quiet song, along the lines of Polly
7. Very Ape is a very cool song, one of my personal favourites. I find Cobain over-used his Flange in this song, but I guess it's no worse than in track 10. I love the lyric "If you ever need anything please don't / hesitate to ask someone else first". I like to sing this song when it's on, but I always smile a little during that lyrics, thus fucking up my singing.
8. Milk It - some "interesting" guitar work in this one. The randomness of this song is actually quite refreshing. The guitar is all-over-the-place picking, aside from the chorus bit, and the drums seem just a little off, like one beat too many per measure or something.
9. Pennyroyal Tea is a loud song, played quietly. It's very nice. Also, the chord used in the outro: I've never known anyone to get it right. And no, it's not an A-minor.
10. Radio Friendly Unit Shifter is very close to Breed, but it shows of Dave Grohl's drumming ability a little more.
11. tourette's, which isn't so much a song as it is wailing and bad guitar for a frightening minute-and-a-half.
12. All Apologies was a pseudo-single, in that it picked up a small amount of airplay after Kurt Cobain had committed suicide. It's been covered by Sinead O'Connor, I might add.
All in all, the production of this album, combined with the lightning-fast recording time--three weeks!!--and the problematic life of the band's front band produced a very solid album, if you're into straight-forward, in your face music. This album is definitely NOT a mimicry of Nevermind; it bears a stronger resemblance to Incesticide, despite the fact that Incesticide is B-sides and covers. The songs themselves on this album are more like Bleach, in that they have a looser, more thrown-together feel.
If you like this, you'll like Nirvana's Incesticide, Pearl Jam's Vitalogy, any record by The Melvins.
Steve Albini is a great guy. The deal with this particular album was, he asked for $100,000 to produce it. That's a huge sum of money, for production, but Albini does not ask for royalties. This is much easier. So, rumor has it Cobain paid him in cash, and off they went. Scott Litt was thrown into the picture occasionally, to re-work some basic vocal stuff and some small guitar issues after Albini had pronounced his particular job "finished".