In Utero

Kurt hires legendary noise maker Steve Albini to produce the follow up to ‘Nevermind’ and Geffen get worried. So much so, several songs were ultimately re-mixed by the ‘Nevermind’ production team, much to the disgust of Steve Albini himself. Going into the sessions for this album, it seems Kurt wanted a much rawer, more spontaneous sound that had appeared on ‘Nevermind’, but that following recording, with everyone telling him the album was ‘un-commercial’, he got cold feet or something. Anyway, the re-mixed songs aren’t glaringly out of place or anything, in fact, it’s not obvious which one’s they even are, they flow into the course of the album very well. First, and rather underwhelming single ‘Heart Shaped Box’ was one of the re-mixed songs. It hardly matters, the opening ‘Serve The Servants’ is stupendous and ‘Scentless Apprentice’ very clearly bearing the influence of Steve Albini in the bass and drum sound. Kurt screams and screams through the song, and it’s a thrill when he does, a fantastic performance. ‘Rape Me’ rather mischievously opens with the ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ riff, but when Kurt starts singing, your jaw drops open. ‘Rape Me’? This is provocative stuff, it’s also a truly fantastic song with another impassioned vocal performance. Another great song arrives with ‘Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle’ and things are looking particularly great for this ‘In Utero’ album, ‘Heart Shaped Box’ and the ‘Polly’ re-tread ‘Dumb’ included.

The second side of the album opens with the kind of primitive riffing punk thrash that would have sat quite easily on ‘Bleach’. ‘Very Ape’ is pretty good though, ‘Milk It’ rather strange but Kurt screams very well. Nobody could scream quite like Kurt Cobain, another Pixies influence brought into Nirvana, obviously. ‘Pennyroyal Tea’ has lyrics that sound like they were made up in the studio just prior to recording, and the whole song sounds strained and like it’s about to collapse, but not in an enjoyable way. This is very difficult listening. ‘Radio Friendly Unit Shifter’ isn’t so great either, although the Punk thrash of ‘Tourette’s’ is an exhilarating, brilliant ride. ‘All Apologies’ closes the album, closes it well. This was one of the songs re-mixed, but it’s a fabulous song in any case, another wonderful vocal performance.

‘In Utero’ survived an initial media back-lash to become recognized as another important and more importantly, great, album by the group. For me, there are a couple of songs here that probably shouldn’t have been, that prevent this quite reaching the heights of ‘Nevermind’. This is still a damn fine album, though.

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