Sunday, October 30, 2011

Michael Fremer Album Review



Geffen/ORG Music ORGM-1005 180g LP

Produced by: Jack Endino, Butch Vig, others

Engineered by: various engineers

Mixed by: various engineers

Mastered by: Bernie Grundman at Bernie Grundman Mastering



Collection of Demos, Outtakes and Radio Still Carries Weight
by Michael Fremer
September 01, 2011

Knowing Bernie Grundman, there’s something amusing about thinking of him cutting the lacquers for this ORG reissue of Nirvana’s “cull” album of demos, outtakes and radio broadcasts.

The mild mannered Grundman is more of a jazz fan than someone who indulges in hard rock/grunge. Nonetheless he’s nailed the shit out of this reissue, particularly on the bottom end that really kicks ass.

This album was originally issued in 1992, forced upon Geffen because so much of the material was making the rounds among fans in very low quality sound. Back then fans actually cared about sound quality. How novel!

Issued in 1992 not that long after Nevermind made them rock stars, the album gave new fans a chance to hear the band’s roots from 1988 studio demo tapes, through a 1991 session for UK Disc Jockey Mark Goodier’s radio show.

Many of these tracks have long, circuitous release histories. “Sliver” and “Aneurysm” were live performing favorites. “Sliver” featuring Mudhoney drummer Dan Peters, was original a Sub-Pop “A” side. “Aneurysm” was first a bonus track on the “Smells Like Teen Spirit” CD maxi-single as well as on a Japanese/Australian EP with the charming title “Hormoaning,” that also included the Devo cover “Turnaround” and covers of the Vaseline songs “Molly’s Lips” and “Son Of A Gun.” All three were radio sessions for legendary UK DJ John Peel.

“Aneurysm,” “Been A Son” (the original “Blew” B-side) and “(New Wave) Polly,” an acoustic edition of the Nevermind track, are from the aforementioned Goodier radio show with Dave Grohl on drums.

There are three unreleased tracks: “Aero Zeppelin,” (“an homage to a couple of our favorite masturbatory 70’s rock acts”-Cobain said) “Hairspray Queen” (“…how incredibly New Wave we once were…Kajagoogoo.”) and “Big Long Now” (“hope the Psychedelic Furs don’t sue us”). The first two are demos with The Melvins’ Dale Crover on drums, while “Big Long Now” was from the Bleach sessions with original Nirvana member Chad Channing (1988-1990) on drums.

“Beeswax” is from a Kill Rock Stars label compilation and “Mexican Seafood” if from a Teriyaki Asthma label collection. “Downer” is from the same Jack Endino produced session with Dale Crover drumming and was a bonus track on import copies of Nirvana’s first album Bleach. Finally, “Dive” was the B-side of “Sliver.” Whew!

Despite the early origins of much of this material, despite the demo nature and despite the various venues, including radio stations and TV and radio commercial studios, the sound is mostly remarkable, in great part because the band’s focus and authority was so. Credit Cobain for it. He was a true group leader. Good as Grohl’s Foo Fighters albums mostly are, they simply don’t have the drive and authority of even this demo and outtake compilation.

Not a throwaway Nirvana album by any means either musically or sonically.

Thanks to Michael over at for the exclusive rights to reprint this material. Stop by for more reviews and features.

©2011 & Michael Fremer - - All rights reserved

Reprinted by Permission

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