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Just out of curiosity, I decided to find out what other popular albums were released around the same time as Nirvana's "Nevermind" and U2's "Achtung Baby," both of which are celebrating 20th anniversaries. Pretty interesting mix. Here's a few of note:
Guns & Roses - "Use Your Illusion I & II" Ozzy Osbourne - "No More Tears" Bryan Adams - "Waking Up the Neighbors" Red Hot Chili Peppers - "Blood Sugar Sex Magik" Prince - "Diamond & Pearls" Mariah Carey - "Emotions" Soundgarden - "Badmotorfinger" Public Enemy - "Apolcalypse 91 - The Enemy Strikes Black" Rush - "Roll the Bones" Ugly Kid Joe - "As Ugly As They Wanna Be" Richard Marx - "Rush Street" Simply Red - "Stars" Ice Cube - "Death Certificate"
and of course, Vanilla Ice, "Cool As Ice."
Something tells me we won't see 20th anniversary tributes to that one in Slate or Salon anytime soon.
Sifting through the usual sites I surf here on the Net, there's a lot of chatter and reflection regarding the 20th anniversary of the release of Nirvana's "Nevermind" album. The most common response to this occasion among people my age is undoubtedly "JESUS CHRIST!!! HAS IT BEEN 20 YEARS?!!?" I'm definitely guilty ...
I have to say a lot of the tomes written on this subject are a bit overwrought, reminding me of the worst excesses of the indie-rock seriousness of the era. If you can say anything positive about today's music scene, the whole "indier-than-thou" chatter has been toned down quite a few notches, which is a relief to people like myself who found it all a tad pretentious. But back to the main subject at hand ...
There's a lot of talk about what a genius Kurt was, how Nirvana was the next Beatles, oh if only Kurt were still alive today think of the music he'd have put out, etc., etc., etc. I just don't buy all that. Undoubtedly "Nevermind" was a brilliant album, I remember hearing "Smells Like Teen Spirit" for the first time and being bowled over like everyone else, it was THE perfect melding of metal and punk, catchy and aggressive as hell. It was real, a breath of fresh air from the paint-by-numbers hard rock production gimmicks of hair metal and the like. Twenty years down the road, Nirvana's sound has been replicated into the ground by any number of less talented artists (i.e., see "butt-rock"), but at the time it was a call to arms, the announcement that a new sheriff was definitely in town.
Having said that, I can't help but feel that their success had a lot to do with timing, music was ripe for revolution in 1991and Nirvana just happened to be the horse it rode in on. Still, it was a great album. I always thought "In Bloom" was the best tune on the album, a perfect stew of dissonance and hooks; then "Teen Spirit;" and then "Come as You Are" - there was a bit of menace in that song, it always reminded me a bit of the Doors for some reason.
The rest of the record, with the exception of "On a Plain," I wasn't really bowled over by. There were a lot of repeated chord progressions, and the only thing that kept some songs interesting was Kurt's vocal style. And when "In Utero" came out a few years later, I was pretty underwhelmed, though "Scentless Apprentice" is beautiful in its utter brutality. While Kurt did write some fantastic songs for "Nevermind," I'm not sure he could've continued the streak indefinitely. Still, he gave us what he gave us, and it was good. So be it.
Hey, folks, Don here. I've blogged in the past and have been itching to do it again, and now that I've set up this page here at ReverbNation, it seems like a good opportunity to do so.
I write quite a bit about music, so I will keep that the sole subject of this particular blog. You'll find I can be a bit opinionated, but hopefully I'm not a dull read. Hopefully.