To say Nevermind is an influential album is an understatement, it was a world-changing album made by a band that for a few years were the most important band in the world. Its continued success is a testament to how relevant Nirvana still are. Grunge may have come and gone (with a few bands still waving the flag for it across the world), but when Nirvana’s journey tragically ended, grunge inevitably went with it. When the genre peaked in the 90s, Nevermind was arguably the pinnacle of that peak. The album is not only a masterclass in the genre, but one that (along with its now iconic album cover) shook the world and changed lives. It may not have been their first album, but for most of us it was the entry point into the world of Nirvana.
Nevermind 25 years later is still an exciting album. ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ may have become overplayed and a generic song for rock nights, but no one complains when it’s put on. Besides, songs and albums that are often called ‘generic picks’ are done so because they are really good and universally loved. Nirvana are still one of the greatest phenomenons to hit the planet, there was no one else like them. Kurt Cobain is still analysed and is the subject of many books, documentaries, and articles. Surviving members Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic are still frequently interviewed about Nirvana, popping up on talk shows and appearing on the covers of magazines with headlines like “the untold story of Nirvana” or “Dave Grohl reveals all”.
Nirvana cover bands frequently sell out venues which bands that play original material struggle to fill. But why? It’s simply because Nirvana is still a fascinating band, many are still in disbelief they actually happened. They were a needle in the haystack finding, a flash in the pan, an urban legend. Nevermind is a reason for this. It’s the album that made them, the album that granted them success, the album that still makes millions is discussed online, its songs covered by bands and learnt in bedrooms across the world and parodied by the likes of Weird Al Yankovic and The Simpsons. 25 years later, Nevermind is still capturing teenage angst and the feelings of isolation, loneliness, and zeitgeist.
The debate as to which is the best Nirvana album will rage for entirety, but Nevermind for me is the best. It’s an album that has a special feeling to it which the others did not (even though they are still all-time classics). Nevermind also contains the anthems: ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’, ‘In Bloom’, ‘Lithium’, and quite frankly the rest of the album; which is just an incredibly infectious ride and easy to warm to. Every song captures a different essence, whether it’s anger, sorrow, confusion, triumph, or however you want to interpret the songs. It’s an album that you find something new with every listen, whether it is a lyric you didn’t appreciate the first time, a piece of music or a sensation to feel.
Whether it is accidental anthem ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ (Kurt Cobain wrote the song as an afterthought, much like his hero Tony Iommi did with ‘Paranoid’) or the hauntingly beautiful ‘Something in the Way’, which shows a more vulnerable side of Cobain, each song is a journey itself. The tag ‘voice of a generation’ has been used a lot for Kurt Cobain, but he spoke to people in a way few artists at the time could. ‘Something in the Way’ is my favourite Nirvana song, I didn’t truly appreciate it until I saw it used in the excellent Montage of Heck documentary. It’s the most stripped back song on the album and credit should go to producer Butch Vig for helping create this version.
Nevermind was Nirvana’s first major label outing after transferring from Sub Pop to Geffen. It has since become the label’s biggest release selling 25 million copies worldwide, 10 million in the United States alone. This does not include the hundreds of thousands who have discovered the album through other means. Seeing Nevermind celebrated 25 years later made me realise that not only do we need another Nirvana, but the band’s significance is being felt now more than ever. Kurt Cobain’s legacy will never die, Nevermind will carry on selling copies and influencing people across the world. It truly is one of the greatest albums ever made and it is one that should be treasured.
Best Tracks: ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit,’ ‘Breed,’ ‘Drain You,’ ‘Something In The Way’
1. Smells Like Teen Spirit
2. In Bloom
3. Come as You Are
7. Territorial Pissings
8. Drain You
9. Lounge Act
10. Stay Away
11. On a Plain
12. Something in the Way
Nirvana on Nevermind were:
Kurt Cobain – Lead Guitar/Vocals
Krist Novoselic – Bass
Dave Grohl – Drums