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30 Best Loved Albums - Nevermind

2007 will bring the 30th anniversary of my first rock concert (Kiss, December 2, 1977 – Metropolitan Sports Center). In honor of that momentous event I have decided to use this blog to review my 30 best loved albums. They will not be in any order or progression but I will try to review them musically and why they mean so much to me. I’ll also note if they made the Definitive 200 List. Here's number 3 on the list:

3. Nirvana – Nevermind (1991)

It can never be understated what impact Nirvana’s Nevermind had on music and popular culture. When Nevermind displaced Michael Jackson’s Dangerous as number one on the album charts in early 1992 there was a shudder in the time-space continuum of popular culture. The impact continues today. Just last weekend I was at Home Depot and I heard the Decemberists’ O' Valencia over the in-store PA system. That plain and simple would never have happened without Nevermind.

Even though I was in my late 20’s when Nevermind came out, I still thought it absolutely rocked and I ate up every song. The first time I heard Smells Like Teen Spirit on the radio I knew that music had changed for the better and the buzz about this song and album was huge. You were asking and being asked “have you heard that Nirvana album? It’s amazing, you gotta hear it.? Never was a song like Teen Spirit heard on the radio and it opened the floodgates to a popular acceptance of what became known as alternative music and drove a stake through the heart of hair bands such as Whitesnake, Poison, and Skid Row. Out the door was music that was hedonistic and in came introspective, angst-ridden songs. Ennui became a word on every rock critic’s spell check.

One reason that Nevermind had such a big impact is that practically every song on the album was great. In most cases a band will release an album that has a huge break-out song on it but the rest of the album is flaccid at best. Not the case with Nevermind. From the opening song that everyone knows, followed by In Bloom and Come As You Are, you were hooked. Teen Spirit isn’t even the hardest rockin’ song on the album as Breed, Territorial Pissings, Drain You, Lounge Act, and Stay Away are fast, guitar-heavy songs that forcibly propel the listener to the end of the album. Breed and Territorial Pissings are classic punks songs that will still be exhilarating some 50 years from now.

Kurt Cobain’s guitar work is usually overshadowed by his songwriting but there are serious riffs on display here. Dave Grohl’s drumming really anchors every song along with Novoselic’s bass work. Like listening to Husker Du, I was surprised that such cacophony could come out of only three instruments. To the indiscriminate listener, it sounds like a bunch of noise. But if you take the time to listen, the melody is there and it times it’s quite complex.

Of course everyone knows the story of what happened to Kurt Cobain and it was only a matter of time before alternative music got co-opted by Madison Avenue (That’s the opening riff to Breed selling a baseball video game). But when Nevermind came out, not only was it thrilling to listen to but it was also satisfying as finally decent music was considered popular and being exposed to a larger population.

Place on Definitive 200: 10th on the list.

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