Nevermind The Singles

Nirvana_and_wine

The Preample:

Wow, what a winter we had!  It’s been a long cold winter since the last post.  Tons have happened.  Besides spinning vinyl like mad, there was the December ice storm, weeks and weeks of freezing temperatures and tons of snow, vacations and a new job.  Not to mention I wore out my stylus after just over a year of (really really heavy) usage.  I rode that diamond like a 2-dollar hooker until something didn’t sound quite “right”.  Luckily I didn’t damage any vinyl, but replacing it did catch me unawares killing my plan of moving up the Dynavector food chain.  Thus, I went with same model, taking advantage of Dynavector’s trade-in discount.  It took a few weeks to get this puppy in…so no spinning for almost two weeks!

Enough about that.  Another April, another Record Store Day.  To be honest, although I own some RSD releases, I’ve never been to a RSD event.  Too many nerds jostling it out for the only copy available of a super duper limited colored vinyl release in Toronto…just to list on eBay for triple the cost.  I hit the shops twice a week so no reason to join in on the bi-annual ball-fest.  That said, RSD is the inspiration for this listen, 2011’s Black Friday limited release, Nirvana’s Nevermind – The Singles, borrowed from Peter.

Although I’m not a huge fan of Nevermind, I fondly remember its release.  During the final weeks leading up to high school graduation this new song exploded onto CFNY’s Thursday 30 and everyone was talking about it non-stop into the weekend.  I even tape dubbed the song the following Thursday knowing it would be number 1!  It was a monster all summer and into first year of university.  Good times.

No clue why I paired it with a bottle of wine.

The Record:

Artist: Nirvana

Title: Nevermind – The Singles

Label: DGC / Sub Pop / Ume

Year: 2011

Catalog: B001623-01

Country: USA

Matrix:

Smells Like Teen Spirit Side 1: B 0016231-01 A 91074 1A tph at schnittstelle

Smells Like Teen Spirit Side 2: B 0016231-01 B 91074 1B tph at schnittstelle

Come As Your Are Side 1: B 0016231-01 C 91074 1C tph at schnittstelle

Come As Your Are Side 2: B 0016231-01 D 91074 1D tph at schnittstelle

Lithium Side 1: B 0016231-01 E 91074 1E tph at schnittstelle

Lithium Side 2: B 0016231-01 F 91074 1F tph at schnittstelle

In Bloom Side 1: B 0016231-01 G 91074 1G tph at schnittstelle

In Bloom Side 2: B 0016231-01 H 91074 1H tph at schnittstelle

Barcode: 6 02527 85422 9

Mastering: Thomas P. Heckmann at Schnittstelle

Pressing Plant: Unknown (but most likely Germany)

Discogs: http://www.discogs.com/release/3247502

Notes: Released for Black Friday Record Store Day 2011 in an apparently 5,000-limited pressing.  This one’s numbered 11,042 so who knows.  It’s a 4 X 10” box set housed in a slip case outer cardboard box with the spines facing outwards.  The 4 records are the original Nevermind singles released in (mostly) 1991 and 1992.  Back in the day originally released as 7”, 12 “ and CD single formats, I’m guessing this is the first time it’s seen a 10” format.  Besides being released for RSD, I thinks each was released as individual 10’ers also.

All the A sides except for Smells Like Teen Spirit are original LP versions, with SMLT being an edit version.  The B-sides are a mix of live tracks, radio sessions, an additional Nevermind track, and the usual fodder that didn’t make it on the LP.  All sides are cut at 33 with the A sides holding a single track and the B side two or three.  That means nice wide grooves on the A side!

All records and covers are NM.  The outter box has a bit of the expected wear; it actually looks like Pete may have sat on it in at one point.  VG+ would be a fair grade.  Lacquers were cut in Germany and although there’s no indication of pressing plant I’m thinking EU also.

The Accompaniment: 

The accompaniment tonight is a bottle of Valpolicella Ripasso Cassico Superiore.  A thank you gift from Perrone, this thing is very very nice!  I will have to remember this one for a future purchase.  An Italian wine from Veneto (Perrone’s Italian, but I have no idea from what region) its very easy drinking with lots of flavor.  Fruits galore, I may be wasting it just listening to rekkids.  This probably would be best enjoyed with some beef.

The Listen:

I just got in from taking the dog for a walk and remember the amps have been on for hours…when I check out the heat levels I get a shock from touching the MX100…and I barely feel any heat from the 275’s (It’s fucking cold down here).  A deep “tube smell” permeates the air.

Ten-inch records are funny to hold and play, unnatural like.  This sets got four, so it takes a minute to decide which to play first.  I decide to play them in the order listed on the back of the box.  I’m going to have to get up every 5 minutes or so for the next hour plus.  Scanning the track list, I remember most of the songs when I owned the CD back in the day (and I actually own a blue copy of the recent ORG reissue), but I don’t think I’ve heard any of the B-sides.  I expect these records to be cut loud, so I do a quick sound check of Smell’s Like Teen Spirit…but fucking fuck nuggets, I drop the needle onto THE BARE PLATTER!  FUCK! FUCK! FUCK 10-inch records!  I get the magnifying glass…everything looks OK; straight and sharp.  After giving myself shit and the angel on my shoulder kudos, I try again.  As expected, I have to adjust the level down as not to bother the sick wife upstairs.

SLTS is first in the queue.  Immediately, the awesomeness of the bass and drums is better than I’ve ever heard on this song.  The vinyl’s got no surface noise, providing a quiet black background for the haunting “hello’s”.  The song erupts, and to hell with sleeping wife, I turn it up.  The soundstage blossoms with ferocity, and a great sounding guitar solo half way thru.  I love it more than I thought I would have so far.  No murkiness, nice clarity and definition, yet grungy.  And an awesome close.  This song’s an “edit” version…I have no idea how it differs from the LP version.

I flip over the record for the 3 B-sides.  Although I don’t recognize the name of the first song, Drain You, I immediately recognize the song when it starts.  It’s a song I like actually, probably the best Colbain vocals I can think of.  This song’s an unexpected bonus.  Grohl’s cymbal crashing sound as good as I’ve ever heard and I’m getting shit I’ve never heard before in the song.  The amazing little segue mid song has a gasp of psychedelia, and when it breaks back I’m laughing with amazement (at the song and the fact the wife hasn’t woken up yet).  I actually enjoyed this better than SLTS, and the back says LP version.

Although Even In His Youth is not sounding familiar, it echoes a song or two from Nevermind but less polished (Polly maybe?).  It’s got a garage sound, not a bad tune, but definitely batting below average…like it’s mediocre guitar solo.  Aneurysm is a title that may be familiar, but the opening riff proves it is not.  It has a similar sound stage as the previous songs and the back jacket confirms it’s all the same session.  The guitar intro breaks into what I would describe as “college indie”, until Kurt’s vocals put an end to that thought.  The chorus is cool too…this songs a winner.  There are a few tics near the end of the song, first noise I’ve heard yet.  Song ends and I run upstairs to check on the sick wife…all good there, so I turn the volume up a pubic hair or two.

Next up is Lithium, which the back says is also a LP version.  I will definitely know this one, I have no recollection of the tune but if memory serves me correctly I believe it’s a good one.  Needle starts producing noise…yup, I know this one.  I have to say, everything sounds outstanding…drum cymbals, guitar, bass and Kurt…I’m telling you, these extra wide A-side grooves is the shit.  Although rotating at 33, the fat grooves are giving everything a crisp, airy openness.  Words cannot describe the upgrade this is over my 90s CD being played on my $300 Fisher boom box back in school.  I plan on spinning my Nevermind LP to compare that cut to this righteous beast.

The B-side opens with Been A Son, the first of several live tracks in this box.  The track opens with an energetic live crowd; this is a hometown show according to the credits, so no surprise.  Pretty good tune, showcasing a very tight trio.  I never saw Nirvana live; you would have guessed they would have played a Lollapalooza show or two, I guess Kurt’s situation got in the way.  Up next, Curmudgeon is one heavy mother displaying the same soundstage on the first 10-inch platter.  It’s my least favorite song so far.  The last track, D-7, was record at a BBC Radio Session.  It actually sounds like my BBC Mogwai records.  This is my first time hearing this also.  It’s a slow and intense atmosphere until a punk eruption mid song.  Kurt sacrifices his voice at the BBC.

Up next is Come As You Are, the first song since SLTS I know by name.  It takes only a second in to solidify that the A-sides slay the B-sides sonic wise.  This one truly sparkles, with the stage stretching left to right and front to back.  This cut really opens up the drums, bass, vocals and Kurt’s guitar transitions and renditions a quantum level or two.  The first 20 seconds of Endless, Nameless sounds like Smashing Pumpkins until Kurt starts wailing…and then the song breaks into a spy, bachelor pad lounge sound…and then Kurt goes vocally crazy…fucking trippy.  Two minutes in, and I can’t wait to see what else is in store in this one.  The jacket doesn’t mention that it’s live but it certainly feels that way.  A false ending comes up, but I saw this one a mile away…no way that was 6 minutes!  This song’s got me gulping the wine now before it ends with what sounds like a looped sample.

The last two tracks on this side are live tracks from Seattle.  School sounds like it’s an outdoor show, but the jacket says Paramount Theatre, just like DY on the previous platter. Sounds OK enough, but nothing special.  Next is Drain You live, my favorite tune of the box thus far.  Although it sounds good live, its more of a curio and I’d much rather hear the LP version.  The segue on this version is incendiary though, bettering the LP version.  I’m pretty sure this live version has crossed my path before; in fact, the more I hear this version the more I like it.

In Bloom is the last A-side and my subconscious is telling me I’m going to like this as I’ve said before, the A-sides have been sounding amazing…so much that while on the flipsides I’ve been craving an A-side.  Can you tell I’m expecting this one to deliver?  The needle drops and there’s an explosion!  I pre-emptively turn it down…I’ll let it rage tomorrow when the alarm security dude is here doing his thing.  “Nature is a whore”…not sure what that means.  But fack man, these A-sides RULE.  IB is not my favorite Nirvana song, but it definitely did the trick.

Two songs left, live versions of Silver and Polly.  Silver is live from California, and it’s weird not hearing Kurt wailing on stage like the rest of the live tunes.  Ok…he started yelling.  I’ve definitely heard this tune before, might have even been this version.  Good tune.  I know Polly also and I don’t think I’m the only one as the crowd sings along.  It’s a bit faster than I remember the LP version.  Nice ending.  Nice.

The Postamble:

Overall, I’m not sure how much I care for all the getting up and down so often to play this set; I’m not a singles guy to begin with, playing about 99.9% LPs.  Nevertheless, the set sounds awesome, especially the A-sides.  Since the flip sides don’t offer anything compelling for repeated listening, I think that Nevermind proper will do for me.  I’m pretty sure that Nevermind was released as a double 45 recently, and that’s probably the way to go if you don’t mind dropping serious coin on the album…and I think BG or CB just may have cut it.  And I’m pretty sure Pete has that set also…I’ll have to enquire, but I’m happy with my ORG reissue.

And in conclusion, I found listening to the B-sides a bit tedious.  I guess I’m just not a super fan.  If I owned this box set, it would probably only leave the shelf for spot plays of the single tracks and not an end-to-end run-through.

And again, the wine was fucking awesome.  Buy some and drink it.

The Fine Print:

This was not a review of the aforementioned vinyl LP or alcoholic drink, but a personal reflection on my experience of listening and imbibing.  Such factors such as vinyl condition, pressing, intoxication, room size, rig, stylus wear and mastering may result in a different listening experience.

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