Monday, January 14, 2008

Dusting Off The Disc: Nevermind

With the influx of new music towards the need of 2007 I didn’t really have a chance to write a Dusting Off The Disc column in a while. Now that doesn’t mean I haven’t dusted off a few of my old albums (anything that I haven’t listened to in over a year qualifies), it’s just that I haven’t made the efforts to tell you fantastic Hops fans about it. However, when I dusted off Nirvana’s 1991 album, Nevermind, I felt compelled to write about it (can you believe its over 15 years old now).

So the first question you’re going to be asking about this editions dusted off disc is - Has it really been a year since you listened to Nevermind? The answer is (obviously) yes. Honestly, when is the last time you put on this album? Sure, I’ve heard a lot of these Nirvana classics over the past year, but is been a long time… a REALLY long time since I actually put this album on start to finish. Then Mrs. Hops and I watched a VH1 Classic Albums special on the making of the record and it inspired both of us to listen to it again.

First of all the album kicks off with Smells Like Teen Spirit. What else needs to be said about this track? Its definitely the defining song of the 1990’s and probably one of the few tracks in the past 30 years that can actually be credited for not only having a significantly impact on the music industry but an entire generation of listeners as well. Its impact has been written about so many times now that there is nothing I can really add to the discussion. However, in terms of its contribution to the album it obviously sets the bar very high.

What I quickly realized about this album is that while it was a massive record in my teenage years I only really remembered the fist half. That’s probably because four of the first five tunes are “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, “In Bloom”, “Come As You Are” and “Lithium”. That’s more great songs than your average band puts out in a lifetime right there! Also included in that block is the excellent song “Breed”. It completely stands up to the singles it’s surrounded by and I’d argue it even outshines “Come As You Are”.

For some reason, maybe its because kids at parties only played the “hits” from this album or I was a bit scared by Cobain’s howling and screaming to really keep listening, but I didn’t ever realize how great the REST of the album is. After that block comes “Polly”. “Polly” could definitely be one of Nirvana’s finer songs. It was written in the perspective of a kidnapper and rapist who gets tricked by his victim into letting her go after she flirts with him. I don’t think I was mature enough, or maybe I wasn’t interested enough, to really get this song when I was younger. Now it’s quite powerful. In addition to “Polly” other songs such as “Something in the Way” and “On A Plain” really stand out.

The best part of this entire exercise however was realizing the genius in the songs that as a teenager I didn’t get and frankly wasn’t interested in getting. Now, as an adult with a greater appreciation of music and of Nirvana in general I’m furious with myself, really furious, for not putting on Nevermind years ago. Its further proof why Greatest Hits albums aren’t always such a good thing.

Verdict: Put back into the regular rotation

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