Simon Reynold’s article in Slate on grunge nostalgia is a good read. Especially the idea that grunge was “the last blast of rock as a force at once central in popular culture yet also running counter to mainstream show biz values.” I agree. The White Stripes might have come as close to that as anyone since then, but in the end they didn’t change much of anything.
But one thing Reynolds gets totally wrong is the idea that nostalgia is something new: “a pop culture increasingly characterized by a compulsion to revisit and reconsume its own past.” In reaction to the weird news that the Reading Festival in England will screen video of Nirvana’s 1992 Reading performance, Reynolds asks:
whether the promoters of Woodstock, or the first Lollapalooza in 1991, would have lowered a giant screen onstage and projected footage of a gig from two decades earlier? The answer is no: They were too busy confidently making history to bother with referring back to it.
Not quite. Who played the penultimate set at Woodstock in 1969? Sha Na Na. That’s right: Sha Na fucking Na, who dressed in gold lamé and covered 50s songs.
As for the first Lollapalooza, two of the nine bands were Siouxsie and the Banshees (formed in 1976) and the Violent Femmes (formed in 1980). Old.
Granted, none of that is quite as ridiculous as interrupting a festival of live music with an onstage screening of a 19 year old video. But still. Nostalgia in pop culture is as old as pop culture itself.
It seems silly now, ludicrous even, but at the time I swear it was not only plausible…it almost worked.
In December 1991 I flew to the UK to meet up with Jake, who was on foreign study in Aberdeen, Scotland. It was my first solo foray out of the country and the realization of a lifelong Anglophile dream. The foundation of my friendship with Jake was based on our mutual love for The Beatles, and by extension, British musical culture. Our obsession for the Fabs morphed into an obsession with The Smiths and eventually Madchester bands like The Stone Roses and The Happy Mondays. High on our list of tour stops was Manchester, the home to so many of our heroes.
As a big fan of straightforward pop music “About a Girl” has always been my favorite song on Bleach, and remastered by Jack Endino, it sounds better than ever. The 20th Anniversary Edition adds a 1990 live set recorded at Portland’s Pine Street Theatre. And here’s a track from that.
In case anyone’s confused about why Dave Grohl, Krist Noveselic, and now reportedly Courtney Love (who approved the deal) would care about the use of Kurt Cobain‘s likeness in Guitar Hero need look no further than this video:
Love has threatened to sue Activision for allowing Cobain to be used in Guitar Hero 5 to sing songs by other artists, which baffles Guitar Hero CEO Dan Rosensweig who told the NME that Cobain’s estate (controlled by Courtney Love) was fully aware of the terms of the contract to license Cobain’s likeness and that she “cashed the check.”
Consider. While there is certainly a percentage of rock in its multitudinous forms that is all about being pissed off and rebellious, about being disaffected and morose, about being loose and large, a greater percentage, arguably, is about relationships. Love lost. Love won. Love unrequited. Love that’s not really love. Love that dare not speak its name. Love sought but not found (which can lead to many of the feelings previously mentioned, as in pissed off, etc.).
Music (let’s stop using the word rock here as it can be too loaded as it can encompass too much, and the more generic term allows the focus to be on the argument, not the terms thereof) to a teen helps describe and define relationships or the lack thereof. Say you see a person of the opposite sex for the first time and you are immediately smitten. Chances are, if there is music playing, it is a song that you’re not likely to forget—at least not unless or until you meet someone else who wipes away the memory of the first one. Say she—and, yes, I am exhibiting my bias here, just to make this less prolix—has a song that’s her favorite. Now depending on your taste in music, there is a good likelihood that that is going to be among your favorites, as well. If you find it to be completely abhorrent, chances are there are going to have to be some rather significant factors that are going to overcome what you now know is a horrible taste in music, as you ask yourself: “If she likes that, what else can she possibly like?”, a question that causes your eyes to go wide with fear, despite the fact that you are talking to yourself.
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the release of Nirvana‘s Bleach, Sub Pop is releasing a remastered deluxe edition on November 3. The second disc will contain an unreleased live recording of a complete February 9th, 1990 show at the Pine Street Theatre in Portland, Oregon.
Full press release and track listing after the jump…
The NME reports that Nirvana‘s notorious 1992 Reading Festival appearance will be released on DVD this May. Titled Life Takes No Prisoners, the disc features 27 songs, including covers of Boston‘s “More Than a Feeling” and “The Star Spangled Banner.” There’s no US release date nor a listing on Amazon as yet.
Kurt Cobain was such a fan of this Scots band that he recorded covers of three of their songs: this one, “Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam,” and my all-time favorite Nirvana song, “Molly’s Lips.” Enter The Vaselines is a remastered collection of pretty much everything the Vaselines did, including “never-before-heard demos, and live recordings from 1986 in Bristol and 1988 in London.”
There’s a ton of fascinating information in the state of Washington’s Legacy Project’s oral history of Krist Novoselic (93-page PDF). For example, his name, if spelled the traditional Croation way, Krste, should be pronounced like “cursed.” And his last name should be pronounced “No-voss-o-litch”, although Novoselic himself pronounces it “Novo-sell-itch.”
Tons of cool stories about growing up, listening to music, moving to Croatia when he was 15, Nirvana (of course), and his political activism now. It’s a great read.
Plus, I’ve recently realized Krist Novoselic and Quasar Wut-Wut‘s Brent Sulek were quite clearly separated at birth.