Bleach is the first studio album recorded by Nirvana
(the late '80s-early '90s grunge band). It is the most fun of the three (Bleach-Nevermind
), with the most get-up-and-jump sound and the least sappy
'emotional' songs to get in the way of pure bestial rage and energy release.
When I picked it up from a shelf in HMV (or was it Virgin Megastores? I forget. Anyway.) I noticed that somebody had very helpfully labelled the album for me- there was a large sticker on the front saying 'THIS IS NIRVANA'S FIRST ALBUM'. That made me laugh for a while.
The album was originally released in 1989 on 12" vinyl by Subpop, Waterfront records (Australia) and Tupelo records (UK), and on cassette and CD by Subpop and Tupelo.It was re-released in 1991 on 12", cassette and CD by Geffen in the UK, and on cassette by Subpop.
It was then re-released again in 1992 on 12" by Waterfront and on CD in Japan by Geffen. Major label success.
The original 1989 tracklist was Blew /Floyd The Barber /About A Girl /School /Love Buzz /Paper Cuts /Negative Creep /Scoff /Swap Meet /Mr. Mustache /Sifting. The UK release replaced Love Buzz with Big Cheese. The 1991 re-release included both songs, keeping Love Buzz in its original position and placing Big Cheese at the end. Later in 1992 a final song was added, Downer.
The songs (in the order you'd find them if you picked the CD up today):
Blew: This song kind of encapsulates the sound of the entire album in a short time. When the bass intro starts up you immediately know that 50 minutes of unadulterated grunge follow. The vocals in the first verse are very difficult to make out. For a while I didn't even realise the vocals had started up, they're so indistinct. Okay, I know it's near impossible to make out what Kurt screams at us anyway, but I think in the first verse of this he uses a talkbox or something. Sends his voice thru his guitar.
Floyd The Barber: Kurt's adventures in a barbershop. At the top of my homenode is the lyric to this song, it's hilarious. Whenever I go to get my hair cut or my beard trimmed (I usually do it myself but sometimes I'd rather have it professionally done) this song is always playing in my head. It's so great. Clearly Kurt really liked having his chin nice and fuzzy. There are no real underlying messages in this song. It's simple, a hard and fast song about a barber having his barbery way with his customer. http://www.completenirvana.co.uk says that it's actually about 'the rot of subsurface paranoia and psychosis behind the all-American facade of small-town USA' but I disagree. I think it's just Kurt's adventures in getting raped in a barbershop.
About A Girl: It's simply about a girl. A very specific girl, Kurt's ex-girlfriend, Tracy Marander. I heard that this song was the reason they broke up. And yes, the plural of anecdote IS data (just kidding. I'll try to find out a little more about it.)
School: This song is three lines repeated over and over but the repetition makes it great- 1) (the verse) Won't you believe it, it's just my luck; 2) (the chorus) No recess; 3) (the bridge) You're in highschool again. That's it, but it sounds great. It follows the formula of most Nirvana songs, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus.
Love Buzz: Released in 1988 by Subpop as Nirvana's first ever single. It's actually a Shocking Blue cover. When listening to it, it's hard not to imagine Kurt and Kris (or Krist or whatever he's calling himself nowadays) as Arabs, with hot Arabian dancing girls all around them. It's surprisingly a very sexy song.
Paper Cuts: A first-person narrative from the point of view (wow, how smart do I sound) of a person in a cage. It's lyric is one of my favourite Nirvana lyrics. As much as Kurt tried to communicate ideas more thru pure sound, musical energy, than thru words, when he sat down and thought about what he wanted to say, what came out was like having liquid gold fill up all the spaces in your brain. Or something. I'm not the most poetic of people, but you understand me.
Basically it's about rejection/neglect by your parents. The cage idea is about how your parents neglecting you feels- like you're in a cage, and you're fed at certain times but otherwise you're trapped in this melancholy box alone with-- again, not the most poetic of people but you get me. The line 'the older ones come with lights/and take my family away' hints at the parental neglect idea.
Also Kurt knew a family where the parents would punish the kids by locking them in their room. This song may also be a reference to them.
The last few lines before the repetition of 'Nirvana' are near impossible to make out because by this point in the song Kurt has decided, okay, I'm not gonna bother trying to make it sound clear and distinct any more. Make of this screaming what you will. But in Kurt's Journals, (and I know I'm a bad person for reading them, and I'm sorry) the original lyric is written up. The original lyric differs from what Kurt decided he'd finally record for the song only with the part after 'they cock and twitch and masturbate' were he screams 'I said so' three times, in the Journals it says 'a reason a reason a reason try again' but what was recorded was 'nirvana--- &c.' Yea. Anyway, the final screamed part goes 'to take you, with me to, your eyes are blue' then 'nirvana' till the end.
Negative Creep: Hard and fast and impossible not to get up and jump and run around breaking things and punching walls. It sounds like it's about Kurt ('this is getting to be- drone' 'I'm a negative creep and I'm stoned') but it may just be about a generic mental model of an antisocial, nerdy teenager. It also has a hilarious chorus- 'daddy's little girl is a girl no more' although thinking about it, it sounds a little, wrong.
Scoff: From Kurt's point of view, bitching about the people who look down upon him, and scoff at him. But he doesn't care. They don't know him like he knows himself, and so he values his own opinion about himself more than everybody else's. The verse is 'In my eyes, I'm not lazy/In my face, It's not over/In your room, I'm not older/In your eyes, I'm not worth it' then 'gimme back my alcohol' several times. Then something I can't make out. And then the whole thing repeats. It's simple and pretty great.
Swap Meet: About the way the sexes differ, and how attractive people find these differences. The chorus is 'Keeps his cigarettes close to his heart/Keeps her photographs close to her heart/Keeps the bitterness close to the heart'- it's a bit cynical and a bit sarcastic.
Mr. Moustache: 'Mr. Moustache' is Kurt's name for all the 'Jew, nigger, spic and faggot hatin', 100% pure beef, all-American males', the big macho conservative sexist racist rapist white males, with their hair cut short and their mustaches trimmed weekly. The man who got Kurt onto Christianity, before he developed a kind of loathing for religion, had a mustache. He didn't fit into this category, however. The best thing about this song is, it's satirical!
Sifting: The lyric of this song doesn't seem to make much sense. There's a refrain- 'wouldn't it be fun?'- but i don't see the relevance. However, there is reference to teachers and preachers, and there's also the line 'search, for a church'. The chorus goes 'don't have nothing for you' so the song would appear to be anti-authoritarian.
Big Cheese: If other songs don't have clear meanings, this one's clear as well-polished glass. Again, I'm not--- yea, you get the idea. But this song has a pretty obvious meaning behind it. About office workers who suck ass to get to high positions within the office.
Downer: A political song. Thus far we've had a well-thought lyric (the one for this song's pretty great, too), a satirical song and now, we have a political song. How great is this album?
It's about people being led to believe by their governments that war is a necessary evil, it's needed to defend our freedoms &c. Kurt says, bullshit. 'Hand out lobotomies to save little families, surrealistic fantasy bland boring plain'.
Also the vocals on this song aren't just Kurt's. He felt his voice wasn't nearly deep enough for the deeper parts of the song so he asked somebody (and I will find out who) to re-record the deeper verses for him.
sources- http://www.subpop.com/history/nirvana/discog/discog.htmlhttp://www.completenirvana.co.uk/And of course, something that never fails me, the top of my head.