In Utero Super Deluxe Part 3.

Disc 3

I’ll be covering disc 3 and the DVD in the same article since they are both the exact same show. The show took place December 13th, 1993 concert at Seattle’s Pier 48 and it’s a fantastic example of how tight and ON Nirvana were during their last tour. They blaze through a set with tons of In Utero favorites, and deliver with some other great renditions of songs from other albums (no, there is no Smells Like Teen Spirit this time around).

nirvana-scentless-apprentice-live-and-loudThe crowd was lively and so was the band, blowing through song after song with accuracy and energy. This is how good Nirvana were at the end. They were a well-oiled machine that could blow your pants off on any given night. Their set was littered with hits and some of their best material in general. In Utero shows were typically longer than this (I don’t know if they cut shit out or if this was just a shorter show because it was taped for MTV), and the set truly does miss the portions that were typically done acoustically at other shows (Dumb, Jesus Doesn’t Want Me for a Sunbeam, Something in the Way). But with those out, you get a straight-forward rockin’ show that never lets up.

And it sounds great. Everything is clear (though on the CD, Kurt’s guitar is too quiet), and it’s all crisp as hell. It’s aged pretty damn well. The show runs roughly an hour, and while I mentioned it’s shorter than what people saw live on that tour it’s just enough time to get into it and really enjoy it. The following are what I consider to be the highlights of this fantastic show:

Radio Friendly Unit Shifter is as good of an opening song as you could have. It’s high energy and sets the pace for the whole set. This is a great version.
-As it normally does, Breed totally rips shit it up on this night.
Serve the Servants is also one of those songs that transitions from the album to live very well. Love this version.
-This marks the first time Rape Me was officially allowed to be played on MTV. (MTV rejected Nirvana playing it at the VMA’s years before, and also pissed off the band by vowing to not air any video made for the song. This is why All Apologies was released as a single but no “official” video was ever made. They would later use the version from Unplugged as the video after Kurt Died).
-That is one extremely heart-pounding version of Pennyroyal Tea. A special hello to Pat Smear on backup vocals!
Scentless Apprentice is so good it’s almost out-of-hand.
All Apologies wasn’t on the original broadcast of the show, and for the life of me I can’t figure out why they would’ve cut this out besides time constraints. It’s one of the best songs of the set.
Blew is fucking awesome with two guitars. And it’s played extremely well in this set.
-The electric version of Man Who Sold the World is totally fucking better than the Unplugged version. It made for a great live cover and it’s awesome this set was one of the times they included it. One of the best songs on the CD/DVD.
-The familiar opening riff of School fucking DESTROYS when Pat Smear’s guitar kicks in. Tight as shit.

x8PanZIBlYWqFO9The other songs are great, but I picked out the ones that really stood out to me, and remember I’ve heard about 9000 Nirvana bootlegs in my life. It’s all subjective anyway. The bottom line is that this show is recorded VERY well and stands up to the test of time like a champ. Seeing it is even better than hearing it.

The DVD also contains a bunch of stuff from rehearsal/sound check that I’m not going to pick through. It’s worth a watch if you like to see what shit was like behind the scenes, but it’s not especially unusual or amazing to watch. The band cautiously goes through the motions. Clearly they saved their energy for the actual live performance.

And that’s it. Part 3 of a 3 part review. In the end, this 3 CD set is worth every penny. Sadly according to Krist Novoselic this is pretty much all that’s left of the unheard audio from Nirvana. On the good side, he has also mentioned that there is still a ton of video to be seen, so we can all expect more DVD action as time goes on.

But overall it’s a really great look at the development and performance of one rock’s more important albums and you will enjoy all of the new shit they jammed into the set. In Utero is my personal favorite Nirvana record, and this set just reinforces what I already knew. It still rocks as hard today as it did then.

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Nirvana In Utero Super Deluxe: Part 2

Disc 2

Disc two is where the really juicy stuff comes, first and foremost being the 2013 Steve Albini remix of the whole album. And it’s not your typical remix. You can tell a lot of care was taken with this, and rather than a typical remix the album is almost re-imagined in a totally different way. It’s like listening to the album for the first time all over again, but like you’ve never heard it. It’s powerful and nastier. If anything it’s stripped down. And those tracks even at bare-bones are pretty fucking good. There are significant changes throughout the mix and a lot of them are really, really good. I’ll sum up the good and the blah for you.

tumblr_l0f76rjv9d1qbqb1do1_500The good:
-Scentless Apprentice just sounds amazing. Somehow it sounds even heavier than before. This may be the single best remix on this CD. It’s that damn good.
-Heart Shaped Box has more prominent backup vocals, and it sounds a lot nastier than the single we are all used to. It’s an excellent mix. The cymbals on the drums seem louder as well.
-Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle is a LOT more powerful, and sounds so good I dare say it could have been a single with this mix.
-The overlapping guitar on Very Ape is emphasized and it really makes it a more interesting song. Almost harmonic in it’s presence.
-Milk it still sounds like something straight out of a horror movie. But remastered, so fuck yeah.
-Radio Friendly Unit Shifter is over-driven and out of control, if you don’t fucking bob your head up and down to this song in your car you have no soul.
-The bass in All Apologies is emphasized, and the doubled backup vocals in the verse are gone. This leads to an extremely intimate version of the song that rocks at the same time. This is what it would have felt like to have Kurt Cobain singing in your living room. It’s a fucking AMAZING mix of a great song.

The blah:
-Serve the Servants starts out promising, sounds great and the whole deal. But it totally throws you off when a totally different solo (one that’s not nearly as good as the normal one) comes into the song. It’s a new take on the song, but not a better one.
-Dumb sounds way to naked with cello only in the bridge. You keep waiting to hear it and it never shows up. It was one of the charming things about the song.
-Pennyroyal Tea isn’t really better than the mixes on CD 1.

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Demos
There are a bunch of Demos included on this disc, but for-warned. Most of them don’t contain vocals. So you have to listen to them and consider the musical development of the song. It’s really cool to see how much they changed once recorded for the album.

The good:
-Scentless Apprentice does indeed have complete garbage vocals, but it’s a really cool demo of the song that I hadn’t heard before. Worth a listen.
-Dumb is really neat with all the extra reverby feeling to it. Would have been really cool with vocals.
-Radio Friendly Unit Shifter and Tourettes gives you a look at what it must have been like to listen to them jam while practicing.
-This is just a wonderful Demo of Marigold that’s a hidden gem on this CD.
-The All Apologies demo is truly a demo, but it DOES include vocals (though buried in the background). It’s this happy head-bobber version that makes you feel all fucking good inside.

The blah
-Frances Farmer doesn’t sound better slower.
-Very Ape is boring without vocals.
-Daves drum fills in Pennyroyal Tea stink. And I don’t say that about Dave Grohl pretty much ever.

The Never Heard Before shit
-Forgotten tune is a song that probably could have developed over time and been a B-side or something. Once again, no vocals, but it had some structure and I can kind of picture where it could have gone down the road.
-Jam is a sonic mess that’s pretty cool in an Endless Nameless sort of way. Hell it may even be better than Endless Nameless. But I’m not sure how you rate two tracks like this in the first place. They’re experimental noise for fuck’s sake.

So disc 2 really makes this set something to love. A lot of gems on it that true Nirvana fans will appreciate. I’ll be looking at disc 3 as soon as I get to it. Expect it sooner than later.

In Utero 20th Anniversary Super Deluxe- The long winded review. (Part 1)

In+Utero

I’m sure that you are all thinking “why the fuck is he reviewing this on a site that’s not really a music blog”? And I’ll tell you why I’m doing it. Because since the 90s Nirvana have always been my personal favorite band of all time. There are also a lot of reviews of this thing available out there, but not a lot that are very in depth. A few paragraphs about the most notable things and that’s it. I am doing this review with the hope that other Nirvana fans see it and can make a better decision on whether or not they want to purchase the In Utero: Super Deluxe set. Hopefully I can provide a little more insight into what makes this multi-disc set seriously fucking awesome.

And that should be my review right there. It’s awesome. Over 70 tracks and everything you could want pertaining to the 1993 release are there. It’s far superior to the Nevermind: Super Deluxe set.

Though originally titled I Hate Myself and Want To Die (this would later be used for the name of a song) In Utero hardly sounds like a depressing record¬† from a guy who was about to kill himself. It was actually released with quite a bit of mixed fanfare. The band wanted to make a more abrasive and raw record, something that was very much the opposite of Nevermind. They chose Steve Albini to record In Utero (look up his other work, he’s great at recording bands) and following the recording of the album their record label pretty much hated it. There were rumors the album was unlistenable, and leaked releases of the unmixed record had a lot people thinking those rumors were true. As a matter of fact, the label hated it enough to bring in Scott Litt (previously known for working with REM) to remix two songs (Heart Shaped Box, All Apologies) for the record. These songs were clearly meant to be released as singles and the label was worried about how the average audience would respond to them. So the album was released with Litt’s two remixed songs and it debuted on the Billboard charts at #1.

And the rest was history. The album got an overwhelmingly good response and is considered by a lot of people to be Kurt Cobain’s personal masterpiece. The album WAS indeed raw, but incredibly powerful. A lot of the music was heavier than Nevermind, but the songs still maintained the melodic sense that Kurt Cobain was so good at delivering.

M_NirvanaInUteroBoxSetSo let’s get on with the 20th Anniversary Super Deluxe set and what it includes besides a poster and fancy book including the letter Steve Albini wrote to the band accepting their request to record the album. It’s a 3 disc set and includes a DVD of their MTV Live and Loud performance complete with songs not originally aired on television. I’m going to start with the music and briefly cover the DVD last. So on with it.

Disc 1

Disc 1 includes the original album as it was released, along with other songs that didn’t make the album and ended up being B-sides. They include “Gallons of Rubbing Alchohol Flow Through the Strip”, “Marigold”,”Sappy”, “Moist Vagina”, and “I Hate Myself and Want to Die”.

The following songs are remixed and are different from the previous versions in various ways.

Moist Vagina
Really cool mix that makes the song longer, and brings out the hard parts better. The cymbals seem hotter. I like it more than the original version.

Sappy
Still sounds pretty slick to me, it’s very comparable to the original version but it’s remastered so naturally it sounds a bit better.

I Hate Myself and Want to Die
Sounds heavy and nasty as shit. Love it, love it love it. Great version of a song that’s mostly forgotten.

The disc ends with Scott Litt’s version of “Pennyroyal Tea” (which was the version released on the ultra-rare single for the song and likely would have been the version used for the music video that was never made due to Kurt’s suicide). I frankly like it more than Albini’s, and it’s the only Litt mix I truly enjoy. The song sounds bigger, the vocals doubled and a slicker sound. This song deserved the treatment.

Also included are the Steve Albini mixes of “Heart Shaped Box” and “All Apologies“. I like both of the Albini mixes better. The songs sound more intimate when they are stripped down and a little nastier.

Overall, disc 1¬† features the essential shit that you need in a set like this. The album, all the tracks recorded that could have been on the album but didn’t make it, and alternate mixes. All important stuff to the story of In Utero.