Thursday, 3 November 2011

Nevermind - Twenty Years Later

Two decades ago I'd been listening to Nirvana's Nevermind for a couple of weeks while I was living in the town of Giessen in Germany at the age of 23 selling Harley Davidsons, Chryslers and GM vehicles to US military troops. Three of us headed to Amsterdam one weekend and I put the Nevermind cassette in the car stereo. It wasn't long before Russell, the former punk exclaimed 'what is this shit', Geoff agreed immediately and so it didn't get a full play. 

I can't remember if it was on the way there, or on the return journey back to Giessen but we'd run out of music so it got another play and by the time we arrived back home the other two had becoming raving lunatics about how good this incredible album was. Nevermind became our anthem for much more frequent runs down to Frankfurt in the Corvette or the Jeep show vehicles. It was here we scored cannabis resin and explored the downtown area of brothels, pimps, pushers, junkies and transsexuals around the Hauptbahnhoff till early in the morning before heading back to Giessen to the soundtrack of Nirvana's Nevermind.

I wont burden you with my album review as there are other top twenty emotions I'd much rather write about and I think Stuart Maconie of The New Statesman has done a good job. Here's the bits I liked.

To understand the seismic impact of Nevermind and of that incendiary first single, "Smells Like Teen Spirit", in particular, one has to hear it - metaphorically at least - through the cheap, fizzing foam headphones of late-1980s pop. Nirvana emerged, to paraphrase Auden, at "the fag end of a low, dishonest decade", at least as far as mass-market pop went. MTV had nullified and sedated white rock. Madonna and Michael Jackson were at creative lows. Hip-hop, after the firestorms of Public Enemy and NWA, had fizzled out in the vaudeville of MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice. Alternative rock largely meant REM, who were huge but spoke now to the constituency that also bought Annie Lennox and Bruce Springsteen records, rather than to disaffected teens.

"I've been confronted by people wanting to beat me up, by people heckling me and being so drunk and obnoxious because they think I'm this pissy rock-star bastard who can't come to grips with his fame . . . I was in a rock club the other night . . . and one guy comes up, pats me on the back and says, 'You've got a really good thing going, you know? Your band members are cool, you write great songs, you affected a lot of people, but, man, you've really got to get your personal shit together!' Then another person comes up and says, 'I hope you overcome your drug problems.' All this happens within an hour while I'm trying to watch the Melvins, minding my own business."