Q Magazine made a tribute album for U2’s Achtung Baby 20th anniversary (released November 19, 1991).
01. Nine Inch Nails: Zoo Station
02. U2 (Jacques Lu Cont Mix): Even Better Than The Real Thing
03. Damien Rice: One
04. Patti Smith: Until The End Of The World
05. Garbage: Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses
06. Depeche Mode: So Cruel
07. Snow Patrol: Mysterious Ways
08. The Fray: Trying To Throw Your Arms Around The World
09. Gavin Friday: The Fly
10. The Killers: Ultraviolet (Light My Way)
11. Glasvegas: Acrobat
12. Jack White: Love Is Blindness
“Kurt Cobain’s attempt to compose the perfect pop song his way (and with a little help from The Pixies and Boston’s “More than a Feeling”) resulted in… hit single “Smells Like Teen Spirit”… the anthem of 90s teen angst and a theme song for the grunge movement in general… the most overplayed and abused song to ever come from an unlikely successful and punk-inspired group… Since the early 90s, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” has further been exhausted by oblivious tools such as Hannah Montana, Metallica, Flyleaf (yeah, I don’t know, some Christian band), Chris Brown (he just kind of dances to the actual track), and some kid on American Idol. And now, after you’ve just exited an elevator that was playing a muzak version of it, here’s an announcement about one more version: a number of Ontario rockers will meet up at the Toronto Underground Cinema to perform Nirvana’s beaten-to-death ditty 144 times in a row on October 1 as their contribution to the many Nevermind 20th anniversary festivities this year. That’s right, 144 times…. The performance, titled A Brief History of Rebellion, will feature a rotating cast of musicians, including members of Tokyo Police Club, Fucked Up, Woodhands, Gallows, One Hundred Dollars, The Flatliners, Junior Battles, Buck 65, and D-Sisive, with even more musicians to be announced in the coming weeks.”
Late summer 1991 through that autumn was one of the most potent and pivotal periods in the history of the music industry. Not only were several of the best-selling albums of all-time released – within weeks of each other – but the very nature of how the business operated – even what it sold – was redefined. Though the changes dig much deeper than just Nirvana, Nevermind has become a preeminent icon of this sea change.
To commemorate the anniversary of Nevermind, Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic is played a September 20th Seattle tribute concert – in which he will perform Nevermind in its entirety with the Fastbacks, the Long Winters, Visqueen, Campire OK, Valis (with members of Screaming Trees) and others (tickets available here; $15 for Experience Music museum members, $20 for non-members).
If this looks to you like a nostalgic money-grab, keep in mind the tribute is also a benefit for former Sub Pop employee Susie Tennant’s struggle with cancer. On the other hand, some other items new to the market … well, judge for yourself – suitable or sell-out:
- Fender introduced a 1965 Jaguar Cobain signature model. It comes pre-scuffed (to look exactly like Kurt’s) and for only $1,849 can be yours…
- In Bloom: The Nirvana Nevermind Exhibition opened in London on September 13 at The Loading Bay Gallery on Brick Lane
- Nevermind20.com has been set up for fans to share recollections of Nevermind, add photos, artwork, tour posters, ticket stubs, videos and cover versions. It also includes star quotes (Eddie Vedder – Pearl Jam, Chris Cornell – Soundgarden, Flea – Red Hot Chili Peppers, Alex Turner – Arctic Monkeys, Corin Tucker – Sleater-Kinney)
- The Super Deluxe Edition of Nevermind drops on September 27th (four CDs and one DVD – demos, live shows etc – multiple format consumer options). Hear alternate/ live versions of “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” “Breed,” and “On a Plain” from the box at the website for Seattle radio station 107.7 The End.
- VH1,VH1 Classic and Palladia will air Nirvana: Live at the Paramount on September 23rd at 11 p.m. – showing the band’s famed Halloween 1991 show. The same concert will be available on DVD and Blu-Ray on September 27th.
- The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart is hosting a Sirius XM two hour radio show with Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic and producer Butch Vig to inaugurate a new station called “Nevermind Radio” on September 23rd. Earlier this year, Dave and Krist reunited for Foo Fighters’ track “I Should Have Known” – produced by Nevermind producer Butch Vig. Many fans – Butch included – hear the song’s lyrics as reference to Kurt Cobain.
- Likewise, New Music Express boasted, “Krist and Dave Reunited! First Joint Interview in 10 Years” – excerpts below:
“Krist and I don’t remember much about the making of ‘Nevermind’,” smiles Dave Grohl, lounging supine in his chair, his Virginia hardcore punk roots having long since mellowed into Southern California cool. “I don’t remember anything,” laughs Krist Novoselic, glancing over to his ex-bandmate. “But don’t worry,” reassures Grohl. “Butch remembers everything.”
Looking back 20 years later, what memories strike you most about the recording process of’Nevermind’?
Grohl: “For me, it’s a personal landmark. My life was split in two by ‘Nevermind’. I don’t remember the making of it, nor the day that it came out. But it caused a profound change in my life.”
“At the time, it didn’t seem like that much was changing. We were just inside the rental van that we had on tour. More people started coming to gigs, and slowly the band’s name took on a whole new meaning. But in our own little world, things stayed the same for a while.”
What do you make of the 20th anniversary celebrations surrounding the re-release?
Novoselic: “It’s nice. Nirvana came from a lot of places. There were other bands that broke ground for us. Jane’s Addiction and Faith No More had alternative rock hits on the radio. The Sunset Strip sound and hair rock thing had played its course out. We helped bring in a new wave of rock, a new wave of punk rock, or at least that sensibility. ‘Nevermind’ is an accessible record. Those are pop songs with a lot of melody. The production was top notch and people were ready for it.”
You guys came from the punk rock tradition and there were accusations about selling out at the time. How did that make you feel’
Grohl: “I never got it.”
Novoselic: “I got it a little bit, but you have to remember how doctrinaire punk rock was. When I got into punk, there were people burning Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath records because those were false idols and the new god was punk. And even then, I was like, ‘No, this is good music.”
“Whenever we did interviews, we would promote a lot of underground bands like Dinosaur Jr. We did it because we loved them, but also to inoculate ourselves from criticism. ‘Yeah, we’re on a major label and we’re in the media, but we’re…'”
Grohl: ‘”…shouting out the Melvins.’ I never thought that anyone could accuse the band of selling out creatively.”
Novoselic: “How did we sell out? We had a $260,000 advance, about half of which went to taxes.”
Grohl: “And Sub Pop.”
Novoselic: “Sub Pop commissions. Professional fees, and then we spent it on the record. We were broke.”
Grohl: “The first thing that happened when I joined Nirvana was that I got sued by a punk rock guy.”
What were you sued for?
Grohl: “I can’t talk about it publicly, or I’ll get sued again. Some famous old punk rocker dude sued me right out the gate. It was my introduction to the music industry. I was like, if the punk rock guy is suing me then everyone’s fucked.”
Novoselic: “That’s what happened. There were a st of lawsuits, even after Kurt had died and Nirvana had ended. All kinds of bullshit.”
Grohl: “Punks have lawyers too.”
Do you feel like the notion of selling out still exists?
Grohl: “I don’t believe in guilty pleasures. If you want to make music, you should make music. You can’t judge someone else’s practice or music, if you’re there to do your own thing. I didn’t start playing music to make millions of dollars or sign autographs. I did it because I loved listening to The Beatles and had a fucking guitar in the house. It’s still the foundation of what I do. Foo Fighters is me making music with my friends and hoping people get off on it. People should be free to do whatever they want to do musically, without fear of ‘selling out’.
Novoselic: “Pavement made great records and they were staunchly independent. Those philosophical arguments about ‘independent or not?’ never come into my head It’s more like, ‘Do they rock?’
Grohl: “It’s fun to have this conversation with Pat Smear because he was in one of the first gnarly punk rock bands in Los Angeles [The Germs]. They were crazy people who worshipped Alice Cooper, Bowie and Iggy Pop and were taking as many drugs as they could the entire time. You think it mattered what record label they were putting it on? Fuck no, they wanted money for coke. Ask the old punks what they think about that bullshit.”
Do you remember what the mood was like when you were out here recording the album? Were you guys holed up in the studio all hours of the night?
Grohl: “Ask Butch.”
Vig: “You were in the studio nine to ten hours a day. You’d come in early afternoon, record, take a dinner break, record at night and then split around nine or ten. I’d stay around and tinker with stuff for a couple hours.
“The band were super-focused. When we went into rehearsals in North Hollywood, there was no slacker ethic. I was amazed at how tight they sounded. I didn’t have to rearrange the songs. Some things we’d tighten up or shorten for a couple bars, but that was it.”
What was Kurt like in the studio?
Vig: “That was the hardest thing. You had to deal with Kurt’s mood swings.”
Pearl Jam celebrated 20 years of Ten with their own festival at Alpine Valley Music Theatre in East Troy, WI, September 3-4. Check pj20.com for information on a related book, a comp album and – most significantly – Cameron Crowe’s new documentary on two full decades of Pearl Jam. The doc, which premieres at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 10th, opens in major cities on September 20th and will air on PBS’ American Masters on October 21st. Listen to the soundtrack – 29 rare tracks from the band’s 20 years, in stores September 20th – here.
Sonic Youth didn’t release an album in 1991, though they did school Nirvana and coin the term that has come to be synonymous with the period: “the year punk broke.” In addition to releasing their out-of-print documentary of that name on DVD in September, on August 23rd they re-released on CD their extremely rare 2008 “best of” comp Hits For Squares. Sonic Youth hand-picked a wide range of artists to collectively curate the collection – including Beck, Mike D, Radiohead, The Flaming Lips and others. The final track, Slow Revolution”, was written and recorded specifically for this release.
- “Bull in the Heather” (selected by Catherine Keener) (from Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star)
- “100%” (selected by Mike D) (from Dirty)
- “Sugar Kane” (selected by Beck) (from Dirty)
- “Kool Thing” (selected by Radiohead) (from Goo)
- “Disappearer” (selected by Portia de Rossi) (from Goo)
- “Superstar” (selected by Diablo Cody) (from If I Were A Carpenter)
- “Stones” (selected by Allison Anders) (from Sonic Nurse)
- “Tuff Gnarl” (selected by Dave Eggers & Mike Watt) (from Sister)
- “Teen Age Riot” (selected by Eddie Vedder) (from Daydream Nation)
- “Shadow of a Doubt” (selected by Michelle Williams) (from EVOL)
- “Rain on Tin” (selected by Flea) (from Murray Street)
- “Tom Violence” (selected by Gus Van Sant) (from EVOL)
- “Mary-Christ” (selected by David Cross) (from Goo)
- “The World Looks Red” (selected by Chloe Sevigny) (from Confusion is Sex)
- “Expressway To Yr Skull” (selected by The Flaming Lips) (from EVOL)
- “Slow Revolution”