Thursday, 15 November 2007

Unplugged And Unenthused

There were a lot of good things about Nirvana. The studio albums, the image, the handsome Kurt Cobain and the whole Grunge scene that they sat proudly atop of.
The one thing that was not so good, and it has not improved with age or repeated listening, was the Nirvana Unplugged set.
With the release of the DVD the debate has started up again about just how good it was but i remember being disappointed at the time and as much as i enjoy watching Kurt Cobain sat on a stage playing his semi-acoustic guitar, it still fails to enthuse me.
Nirvana's music was all about the several thousand decibels of power behind them and the Cobain formula of soft verses and raucous chorus.
Everything about this performance just seemed tepid and while we waited in vain for the big hits like Teen Spirit or Lithium, we got Jesus doesn't want me for a sunbeam, The man who sold the world and a handful of vague, unknown songs and it just left an empty feeling.
I am not knocking the Unplugged series, i thought Alanis Morissette was outstanding, as was REM, but if Cobain had not taken his life shortly afterwards, this set would be viewed as a mistaken diversion from the real thing.
Their strength and appeal was in their energy, drive and pounding guitars but this album gives a false impression and will sadly be forever placed alongside their far superior output.



Cheezy said...

Oh music is such a subjective beast! So I'll respectfully disagree with you on this one. I thought it was an amazing gig.

Apart from 'Nevermind', this one is probably the Nirvana album that I've listened to the most, from go to woah. And I love the Meat Puppets songs... My brother had the original MPs albums and it got me interested in them too, which I think was probably Kurt's plan.

And the last thing I want to hear - from Nirvana or any other band - is an acoustic version of 'Smells Like Teen Spirit'... (remember Clapton's acoustic version of 'Layla'? Yuck!)... some songs are just born for electricity!

annie said...

just got back from seattle yesterday.
i can never be up there and not think of kurt and those amazing, brief days.

Arthur_Vandelay said...


Lucyp said...

I remember at the time Cheezy, opinion was split about whether this unplugged set was great or rubbish. My problem at the time was i was waiting to hear all the hits played without the electric but we got songs i didn't know and it just left me thinking it was a bit of a cop out.
I do have this CD but it hasn't had an airing for years, possibly this century.

The days were all too brief annie and i did have the chance to see them but passed it up for some ridiculous reason i can't rememeber but it was probably because it clashed with Buffy or something.

Glen said...

I saw your post on reuters and felt i had to visit and tell you that i felt exactly the same about this album as you. I was a big nirvana fan at the time and was waiting for the big hits to start but when all we got was a bunch of covers i gave up on it.
Nice blog and some interesting stuff here.


Lucyp said...

Thank you Glen. I accept the point that most of their songs would not of worked with acoustic guitars but i don't want to remember them singing Jesus doesn't want me for a sunbeam.

Stephen said...

Not only do I think their unplugged was great, I suspect it was a sign of things to come had Cobain lived. He was probably getting really tired of the grunge label, and about ready to take things in another musical direction, with or without Nirvana. I remember Michael Stipe saying something like that about Cobain.

Lucyp said...

I have heard it said stephen that Dave Grohl had began writing tunes for Nirvana prior to Kurt's demise and the Foo Fighters are the general projectory Nirvana would be travelling upon. Don't know how true that was but if they had followed the REM route, maybe it is best they ended when then did.

Stephen said...

I just Googled it. Stipe and Cobain were close friends before he died, and Stipe had proposed some kind of collaboration with Cobain to try to bring him out of depression. It's not known what form that collaboration would have taken, but probably something radically different than what we've ever heard from either of them.

Lucyp said...

Around the time of 'automatic for the people' and 'Out of Time' i did quite like REM but fell out of like with them quite quicky after that. Also Michael Stipe is just plain scary now.