Monday, February 18, 2008

CD Review: Unplugged in New York

1) About a Girl
2) Come as You Are
3) Jesus Doesn't Want Me for a Sunbeam
4) The Man Who Sold the World
5) Pennyroyal Tea
6) Dumb
7) Polly
8) On a Plain
9) Something in the Way
10) Plateau
11) Oh Me
12) Lake of Fire
13) All Apologies
14) Where Did You Sleep Last Night
If you worship Kurt Cobain, don't even bother reading this review. There were lots of good things about his music, but plenty of bad as well. Both the songwriting and performances are mixed bags, resulting in this, a mixed review.
The many covers on the album boost its rating. Nirvana only had so many songs that could work without electric instruments, so they included lots of covers in this set, lots of songs by better songwriters than Cobain. Their rendition of Bowie's "The Man Who Sold the World" may be my favorite track on the album.
As much as I talk about Nirvana's shortcomings as a band, such imperfections were part of their appeal. Cobain was a bad guitarist and a bad singer who wrote sometimes nonsensical songs. Nevertheless, the public embraced the new style of music played by the band, that of unpolished artistic expression.
I'm a musician. To me, everything has to be polished and perfect. When I hear "About a Girl" and "All Apologies", I can't help but think how great these awesome songs would sound in the hands of better musicians than Cobain.
Thus, I can only handle Nirvana in small doses. Grunge was the perfect relief from the glossy metal that dominated music before Cobain came along. But, like me, the world couldn't take too much of it. And that's why grunge died with Cobain.
***1/4 out of five


  1. Being a huge Cobain/Nirvana fan, I strongly disagree with your comments, but I will look at this as objectively as possible. First off, you are right in saying that Cobain was not a virtuoso on the guitar. Everyone knows that. But, to say that he was a "bad" guitarist, well I don't see how you can make such a blanket statement,especially as a musician. Cobain created instantly catchy guitar riffs. On another note, the reason they didn't do more Cobain originals... well actually there's several reasons: Cobain was fucked out of his mind on heroin! The band barely practiced the set before airtime. He did so many covers because he wanted to expose kids to more obscure artists (i.e The Meat Puppets, whom by the way are the two fellas that play with the band, The Vaselines, and Leadbelly). On a final note, those songs would not be the same if they were performed by "better" musicians because the pop hook would not be there

  2. Haven't listened to much Cobain, but "Jesus" is a great song.

  3. I'll give you this, Chris...Cobain composed great riffs, great melodies, and at times, great lyrics. Like Dylan, his strength was his songwriting, not his performing.

  4. Actually I'd say Cobain's vocals were his highlight. Than the songwriting.


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