Verse Chourus Verse: The Recording History Of NIRVANA
Goldmine #432, February 14, 1997
PAGE: 10 | back
"I think Andy's mixes sound great," Vig adds. "He didn't add too much polish to the songs, but got really good separation between the instruments and vocals, mostly through EQ. He also kept Kurt's vocals in the front of the mix." Though Cobain was later critical of the album's sound (telling Azerrad, "Looking back on the production of Nevermind, I'm embarrassed by it now"), Vig says "I know for a fact that Kurt loved the album when it was finished. But over a period of time I think all artists become critical of their work. And as a punk, it's not cool to endorse an album that sells in the millions. When Kurt talked to me about working on the first Hole record with Courtney, he told me he wasn't happy with In Utero either."
After the band finished their album, they played a few West Coast dates, and in August headed back to Europe. Aside from the occasional few weeks off, they would stay on the road until the end of February '92, playing the U.S., England, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. Prior to leaving for Europe, the band filmed their video for "Teen Spirit," chosen as Nevermind's first single, on August 17 at the GMT Studios (stage 6) in Culver City, California. Filming began at 11:30 am and lasted all day.
In this period of calm before the storm, two more compilations with Nirvana tracks were released. "Dive" appeared on the Sub Pop compilation The Grunge Years, released in June (with the jokey tag "Limited Edition Of 500,000" on the cover). And another track from the "Dale Demo," "Beeswax," was released on the compilation Kill Rock Stars, by the Olympia label of the same name, on August 21. The original issue of the album was limited to 1000, and came in a numbered, hand-screened cover. The record has since been issued on CD.
"Teen Spirit" was released September 10. The 7-inch and cassette were backed with "Even In His Youth"; a second cassette, 12inch and CD added "Aneurysm," both from the January '91 Music Source session. The back cover featured a classic Charles Peterson shot from a show at the Commordore Ballroom in Vancouver, B.C., on March 8, showing Cobain apparently playing the guitar on his head. A promo CD single was released, with edited and full-length version of the song; the edited version also appeared on as 1 2-inch promo on yellow vinyl. Another promo had a plastic bag around the case, filled with blue liquid.
In the U.K., the single was released in August on 7-inch and cassette (b/w "Drain You"), a black vinyl 12-inch featuring "Even In His Youth," a picture disc 12-inch featuring "Aneurysm," the CD featuring all four songs; the picture disc is the rarest version. A picture disc using different artwork was issued in Germany.
Finally, on September 24, Nevermind was released. An advance cassette was released, though no advance CDs were; CD promos were available after the album's release (the same would hold true for all of Nirvana's subsequent album releases). One CD promo was packaged in a "blue pack" the way "Teen Spirit" had been. The record was also released on vinyl. Though the cover listed 12 songs, Nevermind also had a "hidden" track, "Endless, Nameless," that came on some 10 minutes after the last listed track, "Something In The Way." It was accidentally left off first pressing of the CD and cassette, but restored on later pressings. The album's back cover photo was by Cobain, credited as "Kurdt Kobain."
Mari Earl was impressed with "Teen Spirit," calling it "one of Kurt's best songs, Iyrically and musically." Nonetheless, it was still something of a shock to see her nephew on TV. "When I first saw him on MTV I cried," she says, "because it was like, 'This is too much!' It was just like, wow, to know somebody that makes it big like that is really a very strange feeling. It was all these mixed emotions. I felt happy for him, I felt afraid for him, just a lot of different things. 'Cause I knew that he wasn't the most stable person in the world. But it wasn't like I consciously thought of that. I was just really excited for him and very happy for him in the beginning. But it was quite a lot for him, I really think. That was the big burst of their fame."
Earl also feels that Nirvana's sudden fame changed what music meant to Cobain. "Music was for Kurt, as it was for me at one time, an escape, a way to express what was inside himself," she says. "It was an understanding friend, predictable and comforting. When he became famous, music was no longer an escape for him, it was a nightmare of scheduled 'creativity' and harried performances. It was almost as if he became a caricature of himself and the whole grunge movement. Kurt's success only reinforced my suspicions of how the music business operates. By that, I mean the artist becomes a commodity, a can of beans, if you will, merely a saleable product. Can anything drain the human spirit more?"
Initially, neither the band or DGC had great expectations for the album; the first pressing was a modest 46,251 copies. The record release party was held September 13 at Re-bar, a hip dance club in Seattle. The club's manager says he still gets calls from Nirvana fans who think the band performed at the party, which they did not; only recorded music was played. The party was shut down when the band started a food fight, the club's owners not relishing a big clean-up job before admitting the evening's clientele.
The band's in-store appearance at Seattle record shop Beehive (now closed) on September 16, was less chaotic, if still enthusiastic. "The place was packed," remembers Charles Peterson. "lt was just the rawest show I'd ever seen them do. It was so amazing. It was so raw and powerful." It was also the last time Nirvana would play to such a small crowd in Seattle. Little more than a month later, on Halloween, the group appeared Seattle's Paramount Theater, sharing a bill with Bikini Kill and Mudhoney The show was recorded and filmed, and with the album rising in the charts, it was apparent Nirvana was taking off. "The whole thing was just such a scene," says Peterson "And I couldn't figure out whether it was okay for me to photograph them or not! "
The fall tour also took the band to Chicago, where Butch Vig saw them at the Cabaret Metro. "The buzz in the air was unbelievable!" he says. "Kids were screaming and crying, and almost everyone already knew all the Iyrics. I was thinking, 'Wow, I might eventually have a gold record,' and of course it went gold in a matter of weeks. A few months later, I talked to their manager John Silva and asked if there was any chance of Nevermind going #1. And he said, 'No way, not a chance.' The next week it was #1. After that, I had so many bands, labels, and managers approach me about getting the 'Nirvana sound,' it became a joke-there was and always will be only one Nirvana!"
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