25 years. A quarter of a Century. That is how long it has been since Nirvana‘s seminal record Nevermind was unleashed on the world. And it is still shaping rock music. The latest artists were born after Nevermind, but you will be hard pressed to avoid a band listing Nirvana as one of their major influences.
It all started in April 1990, when Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl joined forces with Butch Vig and started to write an record their sophomore record. 2 years earlier, Bleach was released to critical acclaim. Released via Subpop Records, the album did the rounds in the blossoming grunge scene as part of “The Seattle Sound”.
It was enough to make the big names start listening. Before long, DGC (now part of the Interscope-Geffen-A&M family) signed Nirvana, after they grew disenchanted with Subpop and no other indie label could afford to buy the group out of their contract. With big money backing and the tried and trusted production skills of Butch Vig, Nirvana set about recording their follow up record at the fabled Sound City Studios in LA.
Of course nothing this good is a result of a smooth ride. Recording ran behind scheduled, meaning that production was rushed, and DGC were unhappy with the finished product. Andy Wallace, known for mixing Slayer‘s albums, was brought on board and Nevermind came to life.
From there, it was a steep incline in terms of success and spotlights. This grubby-looking three-piece out of the northwest were suddenly playing on Saturday Night Live and receiving significant airplay on MTV. Everybody wanted to be part of the new hot genre that was grunge.
Sure, there had been Mudhoney‘s ‘Touch Me I’m Sick‘ and Alice In Chains and Screaming Trees were deemed minor successes with their earlier releases, but it was Nevermind and the release of ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit‘ that set the scene ablaze. What’s more, the song that defines an entire genre almost didn’t make it to the final cut.
Thankfully though, it did. And these three young men out of Aberdeen, Seattle were thrust toward superstardom. They went on to release one more full-length in In Utero, which rebelled against the mainstream success they had found. And after that, well, we all know what happened after that.
Kurt Cobain wasn’t even 25 when the Nevermind came out. He would have doubled in age since its release and we can only wonder what would have become of Nirvana and Cobain. We know the success Dave Grohl found as the drummer of the outfit, so the lead singer surely would have gone stratospheric, right?
But all we can do now is sit back and listen again and again to the genius of ‘On A Plain‘, ‘Territorial Pissings‘, ‘In Bloom‘, ‘Come As You Are‘, ‘Breed‘, ‘Polly‘, ‘Something In The Way‘, ‘Lounge Act‘, ‘Stay Away‘, ‘Drain You‘, ‘Lithium‘ and of course, ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit‘. Before we know it, it will have been 50 years, and it will still be just as important and revered then as it is now.