Mornings with Brian Phillips
Nirvana "In Utero" Box Announced. My Thoughts.
July 30th, 2013
Universal Records has announced a massive 70 track reissue of Nirvana's "In Utero" to mark the 20th anniversary of perhaps the least commercial sounding multi-platinum album of all time.
In 1993 Nirvana followed up the massive "Nevermind" with a primal scream straight from the inflamed guts of Kurt Kobain. As I remember the label was shall we say disquieted by the results. R.E.M. producer Scott Litt remixed "Heart Shaped Box," "All Apologies" and a version of "Pennyroyal Tea" that appeared on the Wal Mart version of the record (without the album's familiar cover of course.)
In retrospect, and without Kobain around any longer to discuss, "In Utero" was Nirvana hitting the reset button, and scattering the ball cap wearing bros to Candlebox or whatever was handy at the time. When one is in their 20's one thinks in those black and white terms. 'You're either in or you're out. Let's find out which side of the line you're on.' The album's lyrical manifesto can be found I think in "Francis Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle." Farmer, a Seattle native, blacklisted actress, and psychiatric hospital patient was most famously portrayed by Jessica Lange in the 1982 film "Frances." No doubt the story resonated with Kobain.
She'll come back as fire, to burn all the liars, And leave a blanket of ash on the ground.
.... describes the album in a way.
"In Utero" can be confounding to some. Professional twit Steve Albini insisted as always that he was not a producer, but rather a recorder.... as if he were out on the savannah capturing bird sounds or some such. When Litt had performed his work, and Bob Ludwig had beefed up the bottom end in the mastering process Albini of course added Nirvana to his endless list of shall we say blacklisted musicians unworthy of his microphone settings.
The default setting for "In Utero" is indeed "punishing." Taking your medicine if you will yields rewards however. "Pennyroyal Tea," and "All Apologies" especially are beautiful statements. If you put me on the spot and ask me to choose between "Nevermind" and "In Utero" I'll choose the latter. Not because I'm a snob.... "Nevermind" speaks for itself. I just like a challenge.
We await a full track listing. Nirvana were always heavily bootlegged and it would be amazing if they were to come up with a healthy portion of material never heard. The "In Utero" box and a truncated version for the less obsessive are due September 24th.