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Nirvana's 'Nevermind': An album forged by contradictions

17 Comments
By Eric RANDOLPH

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Uh, the most influential band of all time? Not.

-6 ( +9 / -15 )

Uh, the most influential band of all time? Not.

No surprise an American magazine would give that title to an American band. They ignored bands which themselves influenced Nirvana. One of them, Sonic Youth, mentioned in this very article. Also, to my American mag point, The Beatles, Black Sabbath, Neil Young, and Japan's very own Shonen Knife were big influences on Cobain. And I hear many more bands cite The Pixies as their biggest influence over Nirvana.

Of course Nirvana had a big influence on bands that came after them, but you can't just draw a line under them. Hell, the first ever rock record was Ike Turner's band's Rocket 88 in 1951.

3 ( +13 / -10 )

The same week this released A Tribe Called Quest released "Low End Theory." I remembered everyone being on the Nirvana bandwagon while I was listening to that ATCQ album which was one of the albums that led to the greatest era in hip hop history.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

I remember the first time I heard this album as a teenager in 1991, a friend had bought the cassette tape and brought it over to my house. The second we turned it on I immediately understood how this just totally blew away every other rock band in existence at the time. Hard to believe that was 30 years ago now.

I agree with the above commenters though that its weird to be positioning Nirvana as the most influential band of all time. I think there is a decent case to be made that they were the most influential of the 1990s (or at least the first half of the 90s), but definitely not all time. Grunge basically disappeared shortly after Cobain's death, Pearl Jam - who I think also have a claim to being the most influential band of the 90s - is really the only major band from that genre to survive the 90s.

-2 ( +7 / -9 )

Uh, the most influential band of all time? Not.

Like small children, fan magazines are prone to hyperbole. "Ice cream is the greatest invention in the history of the universe!"

-3 ( +6 / -9 )

I agree with the above commenters though that its weird to be positioning Nirvana as the most influential band of all time. 

Yes. I love Nevermind but to be honest, out of three albums made, Nirvana only made this one great one. The first album is very good and the third is patchy.

They were certainly influential, but would you compare their level of influence to the likes of the Beatles?

2 ( +9 / -7 )

Yes. I love Nevermind but to be honest, out of three albums made, Nirvana only made this one great one. The first album is very good and the third is patchy.

My favorite of theirs is actually Unplugged in New York, which isn't even a studio album.

-3 ( +6 / -9 )

"They were certainly influential, but would you compare their level of influence to the likes of the Beatles?"

I would! For the three years Nirvana were around, they were a culturally-altering force worldwide, and not just in music, either.

Musically, their loud-quiet-loud style was imitated worldwide (even as Kurt readily admitted that they stole this same style right off of Pixies), while the naval-gaving, personally introspective focus of Cobain brought a new generation to look at their lot and realize for themselves how screwed up, phony and selfish the system which we were to inherit truly was, and how its only goal was to commidify YOU, too, while commidifying everything else in the world as well. Kurt knew what was happening, he wanted it to happen, and he wanted to show everyone how we'd feel when absolutely everything and everyone were for sale. (Beatles For Sale)

And even with the rather slick, openly-cynical pop production of Nevermind (when compared to say Bleach), the band brought the three chord punk-rock form back into a mainstream that had become ridiculously bloated with excess. Think of all the bands that followed Nevermind into the mainstream with similar sounds?

Nevermind also turned up the drums to take equal status with the "lead" instruments, which I personally found wonderful since Grohl was such a great drummer (its the drums that really get listeners freaking to Smells Like Teen Spirit, for instance). Then imagine all the pedals and accessories (fuzz, wah, reverb, delay, etc.) that were "rediscovered" and recycled in music during this period? (Tomorrow Never Knows/Revolution/Strawberry Fields/Sgt. Pepper)

Also, think of what their mainstreaming of grunge did to fashion, for instance: donning wrong-sized flannels and 0other DIY mix-and-match what one could find at the Goodwill suddenly wasn't a sign of shame or an admission of personal poverty: it was now THE thing to do. "Heroin chic", believe it or not, revolutionized fashion to where even the poor with their make-do casual, outgrown roots under poorly-self-died hair and generic brand working class styles were suddenly cool again. Nevermind said it was okay to be "you" even though "you" weren't all that much and ought to realize this fact soon! I mean, just look at that album cover! (the Beatle cut, Old-New psychedelic chic, All You Need Is Love).

"But the Beatles"...yes, yes. Of course. "The Most?" Click-bait, to be sure! Nevertheless, I would not shrink from saying that Nirvana in their time positively shook the culture in which then existed to its core, and what we've inherited from 1991 since has continued to influence, for better or worse, every bit as much as the Fab Four.

-16 ( +0 / -16 )

reverberate in artists as varied as Billie Eilish

Sheesh. Anything to get this already has-been in the news.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

Not the most influential band of all time, but certainly the most influential band since the Sex Pistols (yes, I know some will claim the Ramones or the NY Dolls) who were themselves the most influential band since the Beatles, who were the most influential band of all the musicians who’ve created the popular music culture that we all know and love today. That still puts Nirvana in some pretty exalted company.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

spandex-wearing posturing of 1980s rock look ridiculous.

Forgot guys wearing Jordache jeans. Sheesh this writer is bad. Strike two.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Musically, their loud-quiet-loud style was imitated worldwide (even as Kurt readily admitted that they stole this same style right off of Pixies), 

Does not compute.

(its the drums that really get listeners freaking to Smells Like Teen Spirit, for instance).

Not the riff? borrowed from Boston and the Kingsmen, by the way. Much as the name was borrowed from a brand of women's deodorant.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Amazing how this album has stood the test of time, great works of music age very well.

I’d recommend Nirvana Unplugged for any new fans to get under the skin of the band, Cobain’s image and legacy is very different from the drop out that so attracted my generation in the early 90s..

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

brings back to many teen angst memories to listen to anymore.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

FizzBitToday  12:03 pm JST

FizzBitToday  12:03 pm JST

reverberate in artists as varied as Billie Eilish

Sheesh. Anything to get this already has-been in the news.

You seem pretty bitter about Billie Ellish.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

They were certainly influential, but would you compare their level of influence to the likes of the Beatles?

Who did Nirvana influence? Justin Bieber? BTS?

They were part of an early nineties rock movment and stayed there. A flash in the pan, if you will.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

You seem pretty bitter about Billie Ellish.

the person who should be bitter is Peter Gabriel for her trying to mimic his talent.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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