KMA262 Nirvana – Bleach
A lot of writers wax poetic about Kurt Cobain being our generation’s John Lennon. I say maybe, and maybe not. I won’t debate the subject here, except to say that he was definitely a poet and a huge influence, but it still kinda feels to me like they had to latch on to somebody as the Voice Of A Generation, to give people something to talk about. Coulda been anyone. I know, I know. Blasphemy!
This record, then, should be the Holy Grail of Nirvana lore, the template for where it all began, the source. And it is. Then again, it isn’t. It is indeed the band’s first record, but it’s not the one that made them hugely popular (and if you don’t know which album I mean here, you’ve been living on another planet, haven’t you). The two records didn’t even have all of the same players on them. And Bleach doesn’t really, to me, give the listener a glimpse of what was next. Its raw sound somehow feels richer than their later, more polished efforts.
The Unplugged In New York record made About A Girl popular several years later, but for me that’s not the highlight track, it’s Negative Creep. That chugging, punishing riff makes the story he’s telling even more intriguing. Really, though, there’s not a bad track here. It works as a whole, and it’s heavy as hell. Crank it up and let it howl, and just listen to that bottom end. Awesome. The songs themselves are so simple, musically, just like good punk music tends to be. But there’s elegance in simplicity, and this record has it for sure. The lyrics have something to say, and they’re shouted and screamed so the point can’t be missed. The whole thing just feels honest.
It says right on the packaging that it cost the band only $600 to record this album, and that’s what I love most about it: take your shitty gear, what little money you can scrape together, go into a studio on that shoestring budget and make the record you want to make. There’s no stupid people in suits telling you what will sell or not, no real pressure or deadline. Just the songs you’ve worked up, the message you want to convey, and the energy and passion of doing this for the first time. I love first albums best, almost always, for all of these reasons. This one is a prime example.
Bleach is always on my playlist, and I turn it to it regularly when I want a blast of great, loud grunge born of punk and metal. We all know where Nirvana went after this, but listening to this record makes me really believe Kurt when he’d say he didn’t want all the attention they later received.
02 Floyd The Barber
03 About A Girl
05 Love Buzz
06 Paper Cuts
07 Negative Creep
09 Swap Meet
10 Mr. Moustache
12 Big Cheese