Grunged: I Think I’m Right

So Sunday was the 15th anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s death. Does anyone still give a shit?

Nirvana are pegged as a hugely influential and important band. People always say that Nirvana changed everything forever. But is that true? Sure, when Nirvana burst onto the scene they helped kill hair metal and brought in the era of “alternative music” (whatever the fuck that means) bu what does that even mean? Wouldn’t hair metal have killed itself off eventually? If Nirvana wouldn’t have convinced the headbangers to flock elsewhere I’m sure Pantera would have (if they weren’t already). And alternative music existed before Nirvana, and if it wasn’t for Nirvana it would probably still would, Nirvana made Alternative mainstream – something that the underground/indie scene has never fully recovered from in my opinion.

But I’m veering off topic. Does Nirvana still matter? Did they really change anything at all in the long-term? Do “the kids” even listen to Nirvana anymore? How cool is it to like Nirvana for a high school kid, that album came out 17 years ago? To a teenager that’s classic rock. Although, who knows, when I was a teenager most kids my age who were into music listened to classic rock more than anything else.

If Nirvana has had any lasting influence in the music world right now it’s pretty fucking hard to find. The artists in this week’s top five modern rock/alternative albums are Nickleback, Blue October, Papa Roach and U2. The number one spot is held by the fucking soundtrack to Twilight, which features an odd assortment of artists such as Paramore, Linkin Park, Mute Math and Iron & Wine. The only group out of that selection that I even hear a hint of Nirvana is fucking Nickleback who, like many of their post-grunge contemporaries (Theory Of a Deadman, Puddle of Mudd, Seether) ape the angst and loud-quiet-loud dynamics of Nirvana but have peeled away the edge, anger and any real emotion from their fucking music. Besides, I don’t think most of these bands would site Nirvana as their grunge band of influence, I hear more of Alice In Chains and Pearl Jam in today’s music than Nirvana.

The “indie” bands of today sure as hell don’t listen to Nirvana. You hear any Nirvana in Arcade Fire? How about The New Pornographers, The Strokes, Fucked Up or any other flavor of the second act? Hell, some might even say that Talk Talk’s Sprit Of Eden had a bigger impact on indie rock than Nevermind did, and they might be right.

What’s my point with all this? Good question, I don’t know if I have one. Maybe I’m just getting old but it kind of bums me out that the biggest band of my generation might be inconsequential and forgotten in the long run. Nirvana’s continued descent into relative irrelevance is to me a symptom of a larger problem about the media, the music industry and the pre-programmed nature of youth culture, but I really don’t to get into that right now.

And while we’re all good and depressed it’s also worth mentioning that April 5th is the estimated date of death for Layne Staley of Alice In Chains (estimated because he sat rotting in his home for weeks before anyone bothered to check up on him). I have an Alice In Chains post planned for later this week and to round it all off I plan on doing something on Soundgarden and Pearl Jam too, might as well hit all the rainy bases when in Seattle. Hold on to your Doc Martin’s it’s probably going to be a depressing week.

Outcesticide 1
Outcesticide 2
Outcesticide 3
Outcesticide 4
Outcesticide 5
I remember sitting on the couch watching MTV when Kurt Loder came on to say that Kurt Cobain was dead. I wasn’t a huge Nirvana fan at the time (Soundgarden was my grunge band of choice) but it bummed me out. I remember kids wearing black to school the next day and having talks about suicide in all my classes. A friend of mine who was in college at the time told me later that they held a candlelight vigil or something and that they were sobbing off and on all night. General sucky times all around.

A year or so later I was browsing the local used record store when I came across these really weird Nirvana albums. Outcesticide? What the hell is that? Why is the artwork so shitty? And the CD isn’t even silver. What gives? Being a dumb teenager at the time I didn’t know what a bootleg was, and we didn’t really have the internet back then to figure this shit out. We just had to go by word of mouth. Of all the Nirvana boots that floated around the years following Kurt’s death the Outcesticide series quickly became known as the best, with high-quality recordings and genuine rarities. I had a lot of boots that claimed to have lost and never-before-heard songs, but they were actually just poor quality live recordings with inaccurate track listings. Outcesticide was the real deal, They had “Junkyard,” “Talk To Me,” “Sappy,” and tons of other Nirvana songs I never heard. Years later many of them showed up on the massive With The Lights Out box set, but many others did not.

There are a lot of Outcestides out there, and I only consider the first four to be “legit” with the fifth getting a big maybe in my book. After that they became rehashes by other bootleg companies looking to capitalize off of the series name (it’s not like the original label could sue for copyright infringement).

I have a ton of Nirvana bootlegs on vinyl, CD and even cassette tape, and the Outcesticides are the only ones I still listen to at all. I going to put up my favorites from each album and then link to other blogs hosting the entire series, but I was shocked when I actually couldn’t find any halfway decent blogs that had them up. Oh well, now it’s time to test my server provider’s claim of unlimited bandwidth.

(oh, and here’s the front and back covers of 1-4, which have detailed track listings and descriptions)

7 Responses to “Grunged: I Think I’m Right”

  1. Hanan says:

    I love Nirvana and I’m only 19. I listen to a lot of “indie” music but Nirvana will always be the best of the 90’s for me.

  2. moof says:

    In my pre-Nirvana “alternative” circles, 90’s “alternative” was closer to 80’s metal with flannel replacing the spandex. (over simplification, but close).

    And most of us were more bummed by the passing of John Candy (March 4) and Ayrton Senna (May 1).

  3. micah says:

    yeah, it’s hard to tell whether or not you’re disappointed nirvana doesn’t get as much respect now as they did 15 years ago.

    for what it’s worth, i think i’m STILL sick of nirvana. i didn’t like them then, and i only slightly give a damn now. soundgarden were my “grunge” (ugh) drink of choice, and the first pearl jam album still holds my attention (and all that follows stinks). the only alice in chains song i liked was “would”, and most of those other seattle bands bored me.

    i guess if i’m going to listen to harder-alternative-type-rock-musics, i want complexity or speed. give me tool or slayer. (i fucking loved helmet back in the day.)

  4. Anonymous says:

    I had’nt listened to Nirvana in a number of years but when the box set came out i downloaded it. I guess your teen angst burns out because it was unlistenable. Bleach however is a much better album than Nevermind was.

  5. Ctelblog says:

    I don’t much care for Nirvana now or in the past. But this is one of your best posts. Really interesting.

  6. acompleteunknown says:

    Nirvana didn’t make anything happen, the media did that. Nirvana just made a really great album…and the media grabbed onto it because it was new and different. But at the core, Nirvana was still a really great band who made great music. And their influence is still everywhere in bands like the White Stripes, Weezer, Death Cab For Cutie, Drive By Truckers, and any of the emo/screamo bands for that matter. oh yeah…and the Foo Fighters.

  7. Anonymous says:

    for some reason i can't get 2 or 3 to work… is there any way you can fix this? i love outcesticide 1,4, and 5 though. Thanks a million

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