The List: Nirvana's nine greatest un-hits
Everyone’s still buzzing about HBO’s spectacular Kurt Cobain documentary “Montage of Heck.” If you haven’t stolen your parents’ HBO Go password yet, now is the time. And while we know what a game-changer “Smells Like Teen Spirit” was, here are some deeper Nirvana tracks that deserve being revisited.
While much of the Steve Albini-produced In Utero seemed geared toward making Nirvana less radio-friendly, this one was both repellant and noisy and pop-catchy, even as Cobain wailed “Go away!” over and over— possibly at the audience.
Nevermind charted four singles from its 12 tracks, but this is the one that felt like it could be the fifth. It had a hook almost as good as “Teen Spirit,” a noisy spiraling breakdown and lyrics about babies in love.
The formative influences of Nirvana were clearer on its debut album, Bleach, and this track was pure Melvins. (It’s also one of the tracks that makes you realize how much Dave Grohl meant to the band, as original drummer Chad Channing wasn’t quite up to the task here.)
If Incesticide was a shameless label attempt to get out a B-side collection to cash in on Nirvanamania, this song about a homesick kid staying at Grandma’s was one of several that made it worth buying.
Cobain had already dealt with the misunderstood anti-rape themes of “Polly,” but this track’s inversion of the “Smells Like Teen Spirit” riff make it pretty clear this is about something else.
“You Know You’re Right”
OK, this was a posthumous “hit,” but the unreleased track that highlighted a 2002 greatest hits collection is one of the few unreleased Nirvana tracks that felt like it belonged among the band’s best.
“Where Did You Sleep Last Night”
The defining moment of MTV’s “Unplugged” recording is probably “All Apologies,” but this cover of a song by bluesman Lead Belly (an icon of Cobain’s) is the most heartbreaking moment from a performance full of them.
That Pixies-esque soft-loud-soft trick that was a Nirvana signature is used to perfection on this In Utero track that featured the Cobain-tasting lyrical hook “Doll steak! Test meat!”
I can’t tell you how many times in my life the terrifying refrain of “You’re in high school again” from this Bleach gem has proven prophetic.