Nirvana - In Utero: 20th Anniversary Edition Album Review

Nirvana In Utero: 20th Anniversary Edition Album

Review of In Utero: 20th Anniversary Edition Album by Nirvana

In a recent NPR interview, Dave Grohl described the different methods used to record 'Nevermind' and 'In Utero'. Butch Vig had laboured over multiple takes for the former to produce an album that would define a generation. On the latter, Steve Albini had encouraged Cobain, Grohl and Novoselic to record songs in one take if possible, and to avoid overdubs. The result was a more abrasive set of recordings and a more accurate reflection of Nirvana's power on stage. The 20th anniversary edition of 'In Utero' attempts to restore that vision, by providing an alternative view of what turned out to be Cobain's final studio statement. While not quite as exhaustive as the anniversary edition of 'Nevermind', in many ways 'In Utero' gains more from this treatment than its predecessor did.

Recorded in two weeks at Pachyderm Studios in Minnesota during February of 1993, 'In Utero' was a reaction to the overwhelming popularity of 'Nevermind'. Producer Steve Albini set the band a simple challenge: "bang a record out in a couple of days, with high quality, but 'minimal' production and no interference from the front office bulletheads." Indeed, Albini's full letter to the band can be found in the liner notes for this re-issue; as a blueprint for the record, it makes fascinating reading. The anticipation of record company pressure and an unspoken obligation to Nirvana's burgeoning audience led to some changes from that original vision, though. Scott Litt who'd been working with R.E.M. was called in to overhaul the likes of 'Pennyroyal Tea', 'Heart Shaped Box' and 'All Apologies'. The album that eventually emerged was therefore 90% of the Albini mixes with additions like double tracked vocals thrown in for good measure. For the first time, then, this anniversary edition presents all the options that were considered, allowing the full set of Albini tracks to see the light of day.

They are admittedly more visceral and arresting, but that's not why this edition of 'In Utero' is indispensable to anyone that's ever engaged with the record. Albini, Grohl and Novoselic have re-entered the studio and remixed the album from scratch using the original tape sources. It may sound like overkill, but it really makes a difference. The 2013 version of 'In Utero' utilises unheard guitar tracks ('Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle' springs to mind), alternate vocal takes and eliminates some of the studio polish that cluttered up the original mix. 'Dumb', for example, sounds even more stripped back and heartfelt, and while there's still cello to be found, it's far less obtrusive. While it obviously doesn't have the input of Cobain, for all intents and purposes, this is the definitive mix of 'In Utero'. It's in no way superfluous and doesn't cause you to play a never-ending game of spot the difference. Instead, it presents a record that sounds substantially different, and all the better for it.

The archives have also been mined for all the complimentary tracks to sit alongside the two versions of 'In Utero' you get in this package. So there are demo recordings with incomplete lyrics to illustrate the genesis of the material. In addition, you get the contemporaneous B-sides and non-album tracks. Grohl composition 'Marigold' makes two appearances with a demo version that's worth it just for his whispered "Bastard!" at the start. The inclusion of 'Sappy' is also welcome, it's a song that sits well here, despite its potted history having been played live since at least 1990. It's also noticeable that the sound quality on the demos is far higher than on similar material on previous Nirvana releases. 'Forgotten Tune' and 'Jam' remain instrumental curios, but at least they sound great.

The Super Deluxe box set is rounded off with the CD/DVD combo of Live & Loud from December 1993. Recorded just four months before his suicide, it revisits the entire Nirvana back catalogue, and serves as a fitting reminder of Cobain's talents as a songwriter and front man. Overall, the music presented on this anniversary edition of 'In Utero' is a comprehensive deconstruction of the album, with the liner notes putting it all into context. However, it also succeeds in shedding new light on the material by allowing Steve Albini the opportunity to finish a job he started twenty years ago. If there's any criticism to be made, it's that his 2013 mix isn't available as a stand-alone release. But in the digital age, there seems little motivation for the record company to do so. It may not have quite defined a generation in the same way as 'Nevermind'. But 'In Utero' sounds better with age and is well worth revisiting as this impressive release demonstrates.

Jim Pusey




Official Site - http://www.nirvana.com


Editors Recommendations

President Barack Obama And Wife Michelle Honor Late DJ Frankie Knuckles In Open letter

President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, have paid tribute to the late Chicago DJ...

President Barack Obama And Wife Michelle Honor Late DJ Frankie Knuckles In Open letter

We Still Don't Know When Letterman Is Leaving "Late Show" And Neither Does Stephen Colbert, Apparently

Stephen Colbert will be taking the reigns of the Late Show from David Letterman in 2015...

We Still Don't Know When Letterman Is Leaving

Neil Patrick Harris Rants At Fan During 'Hedwig' Show, But Was In Character The Whole Time

The 40 year-old actor's recent Broadway performance of 'Hedwig and the Angry Inch'...

 Neil Patrick Harris Rants At Fan During 'Hedwig' Show, But Was In Character The Whole Time

Moogfest 2014 Gets To The Heart Of Electronic Music With Shows From Kraftwerk And Pet Shop Boys

Moogfest begins in just a few short hours; here's what you have to look forward to.

Moogfest 2014 Gets To The Heart Of Electronic Music With Shows From Kraftwerk And Pet Shop Boys

Snoop Dogg Gives Brian Williams' Rap Of 'Gin And Juice' The Thumbs Up

Don't worry Brian Williams, Snoop Dogg doesn't mind your questionable rendition...

Snoop Dogg Gives Brian Williams' Rap Of 'Gin And Juice' The Thumbs Up

Tori Spelling And Dean McDermott Work Out Their Issues In New Promo For "True Tori"

Tori Spelling and Dean McDermott’s marital troubles are no secret, thanks to their reality...

Tori Spelling - Tori Spelling And Dean McDermott Work Out Their Issues In New Promo For

Iggy Azalea: Fans sexually assaulted me at shows

Iggy Azalea was forced to quite crowd surfing after allegedly being sexually assaulted by fans...

Iggy Azalea - Iggy Azalea: Fans sexually assaulted me at shows

From Bruno Mars To Lady Gaga: Ten Celebrities Who Have Changed Their Names

What’s in a name? Well for some celebrities things might have been very different if they...

From Bruno Mars To Lady Gaga: Ten Celebrities Who Have Changed Their Names

Lindsey Vonn And Elin Nordegren Are "Close Friends" In Hatred U-Turn

Lindsey Vonn and Elin Nordegren have finally settled their differences after months...

Lindsey Vonn And Elin Nordegren Are


More recommendations

Comments

Nirvana Newsletter

Subscribe to this news alert service to receive news and reviews on Nirvana

Unsubscribe | Unsubscribe All