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In Utero


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iTunes Review

If Nevermind's polished sound was a glorious blaze in a candle factory, In Utero's was a grease fire on a blackened stove. Deliberately tweaking the machinery of the grunge industry, the trio recorded the follow-up to their multi-platinum triumph with indie godhead Steve Albini, who was all too happy to give them a sound almost as alienating as the one he'd brought to PJ Harvey's Rid of Me. Kurt Cobain had a case of squawling dissatisfaction to unload, and from "Scentless Apprentice" to "Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle," he soaked the floors with it. A more complex set of songs than even the bunch that made Cobain a superstar, these also covered the bases from regret ("All Apologies") to incoherence ("Tourette's") and even - what's this? - a grudging pleasure ("Dumb"). In Utero is final proof that a record can't expel all the poison from an artist's system. If it somehow could have, Cobain would certainly be with us today.

Customer Reviews

2nd Best Album by Nirvana

From their gritty beginnings as a series of heavy grunge messes (some songs could be considered even 'grind-core' ranging from the 85-87 era) to Cobain's acoustic swan songs (Do Re Mi, Ivy League, The Son), Nirvana can't just be described as the best 'grunge' band. They covered many genres, even country/bluegrass... and through their influences achieved a sound that rivaled the glam metal bands of the 80's, even the punk uprisings later on. through their four official studio albums, two live collaborations, and countless eps/lps, Incesticide was the most powerful and gritty studio album. Since iTunes does not include Incesticide, the next closest thing is In Utero. The sound of a hissing mix of heavy metal and punk brews over nearly a decade and through this created one of the most promising alternative albums ever made. Every track on it is a highlight, even their so called 'filler' tracks (tourette's and such). In fact, even song should be reviewed like an album: 1.) Serve the Servants: A great opener to In Utero, STS is the song about the marriage problems and eventually, divorce of the Cobain family. Sad it is, but the upbeat melody hides everything to those that are not lyricists. 9/10 2.) Scentless Apprentice: Wow, my first time listening to this song made Nevermind seem like an 'Aqua' album. The pure rage of this song is fantastic and addicting and Grohl's aggressive drum-work is all the more appetizing. One of the best songs ever written by Kurt. 10/10 3.) Heart-Shaped Box: Probably the most main-stream song off of In Utero, HSB is a ballad compared to Track 2, but focusing more lyrically, it's another kind of masterpiece. It's poetry from the angels, discussing many issues... probably some to do with Love. Great for new Nirvana fans. 9/10 4.) Rape Me: Without a doubt the most controversial song on here. It has nothing to do about raping anyone but the lesson that if you commit a sin against someone, you'll get caught and they will do the same to you. Melodically speaking, it's basically Smells Like Teen Spirit backwards. The best version of this is the one featured of the box set, with Frances crying. Still, a good song. 8/10 5.) Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle: I love this song's chorus. Not lyrically, but the harmony of it is just so perfect. Lyrically, this is a real depressing song... so, I rather judge it by it's sounds. The bridge takes off into a relentless riff assault. Very cool. 9/10 6.) Dumb: Another highlight, this song is about drug use. It's lyrics are simple and strong and it's melody is simple but deep. No need for distortion on this one. This song's on MTV Unplugged, so check it out. 10/10 7.) Very Ape: After Dumb, we get deeper into the mind of Nirvana. This is a quirky song about machismo. Even though Kurt considered it filler, it is a pretty good song... the two bridges are very magical. Please listen to this one/ 9/10 8.) Milk It: Oh my God, this is the greatest song on In Utero. Lyrically, is it about suicide... but that's not what makes it great (not a good thing anyway). It the most gritty song you can regularly buy at a regular store (the WTLO is an exception). The bass line on the verses is hissing. The bridge teases unexpecting people into a barrage of... nearly grind-core mind-altering ranting. The best on here. 10/10 9.) Pennyroyal Tea: After Milk It, everything gets good. Pennyroyal Tea is partially about Cobain's chronic stomach problems... using drugs to try to ease the pain. Though it is a simple harmony, it is very deep and lure's you into the best guitar solo on In Utero. One of their best. 10/10 10.) Radio Friendly Unit Shifter: Man, things don't get better than RFUS melodically. A powerful bass line, the panning feedback of the guitars in the background, and lyrically, it is quite amazing. Oh yeah, the bridge is the best on In Utero... probably the best studio-wise. The other half of the song contains one chorus part and then they basically keep using feedback for a minute and a half. Incredible! 10/10 11.) tourette's: The most underrated song on In Utero, critics called it pointless filler... but it is basically pure thrashing emotion compressed into a minute. It's the theme song of people going into tantrums and/or going insane. Love it. 10/10 12.) All Apologies: The closer is a song about Courtney and Frances. Another mainstream song, it is still showered with the beauty of a b-side. Another song for beginning Nirvana fans. 9/10 13.) Most CD's will not have the hidden track, Gallons of Rubbing Alcohol Flowing Through the Strip, which plays 20 minutes after All Apologies. Unless you are a dedicated collector, I suggest you buy the box-set to obtain this 7-minute jam session. European versions of In Utero will probably have it. So, that verdict of the final studio album? It is a more mature, gritty than the pop-laced Nevermind. Some of the best songs, though b-sides, are in this collection. New fans, I suggest you get The Best of Nirvana CD and then Nevermind before In Utero. Incesticide has my favorite song, Aero-Zepplin. Check out that if you have all of Nirvana's other albums. Incesticide is the best nirvana album you can get.

Nirvana Unbound

There is an inevitable comparison that is always brought up between 1991's "Nevermind" and 1993's "In Utero". No doubt, they are Nirvana's two best albums, and are among the best of the 90's. To me, I think "In Utero" was the better of the two. Nevermind was the album that popularised grunge and revived punk. Green Day and Pearl Jam would not have been popular had Nirvana not released Nevermind. But the only problem with Nevermind is that it was commercial. Unintentionally, Kurdt Cobain had written the album with a slight pop flavour that sold the album to the masses. For Nirvana's third album, he decided to get to Nirvana's core. In Utero was not as commercially popular as Nevermind. There are no surprises there. This album is stripped down from what Nevermind was. But the album certainly worked. "Heart Shaped Box", "Rape Me", "Pennyroyal Tea", and "All Apologies are all fabulous, and were appropriately put on singles (Rape Me and All Apologies shared a double A-Side). All the songs here have an individuality, which is what makes the album great. "Serve the Servants" has a clear Beatles influence, "Scentless Apprentice", "Tourette's", and "Frances Farmer" are all harder than any song on Nevermind. And they explore their softer side a lot too, with "Dumb" and "All Apologies". This album is a midway between Nevermind and Bleach. It has the bare feel of Bleach, but with the sheer excellence of Nevermind. This is a must for any Nirvana fan. Note: European versions of this album contained a hidden track after 20 mins of silence at the end of "All Apologies" entitled "Gallons of Rubbing Alcohol Flowing Through The Strip". If you can grab a copy of the European In Utero CD, get it. If not, the song is on their box set.

The most complex (and mis-understood) Nirvana studio album

While an excellent album, “In Utero” has suffered from many mis-interpretations, including the largest by Geffen when it was first released. I still remember reading reviews and advertisements in 1993 that couldn’t make the sense of this album given the polished sounds of “Nevermind” (its predecessor). Well, if the record execs and critics would have listened to “Bleach” and the master tape recordings of “Nevermind” (see my review of “Nevermind” for more information about this) there would have been no confusion. The band members were dissatisfied with Butch Vig’s mix of “Nevermind,” which they understood took the edge off their music and were glad that Steve Albini preserved that edge on “In Utero.” “In Utero” is also the pinnacle of Nirvana’s sound, which Kurdt Cobain regularly called “musical freedom.” It’s not completely free, however. The album is still punk rock through and through – the kind of melodic yet abrasive punk played by Minutemen with intrusions of the experimental sound of the Melvins. Like Minutemen (who had an affection for the Blue Oyster Cult), Nirvana used their rock influences like the Beatles for songs like “Heart-Shaped Box” and their radio-friendly hits. The other songs (e.g., “Milk It,” “Very Ape”) were inspired by punkers like Flipper and still others inspired by the Melvins, notably “Tourette’s” (which was recorded during the “Nevermind” timeframe under the title “The Eagle Has Landed”). The foregoing songs were largely mis-understood by rock fans and critics because they wanted Nirvana to be the new Beatles and couldn’t understand from where these new “filler” or “strange” discordant songs came. Yet, all the disparate punk-rock elements of Nirvana’s music were contained in their first release, “Bleach,” so a Nirvana fan who understands the bands’ influences is not confused or surprised in the least. The real complexity and new direction of Nirvana’s music is showcased on the French release of “In Utero” with the song “Gallons of Rubbing Alcohol Flow Through the Strip.” This song, along with “The Other Improv” (both available with the box set), were described by Cobain as the band’s evolving direction. From this perspective, “In Utero” was a harbinger of things that unfortunately did not come. Thus, all those rock fans (and critics) wondering about “In Utero’s” apparent contradicts should listen to “Bleach” then a song or two by Flipper and the Melvins to clear up any confusion. Of course, for punkers, Nirvana always made sense. :) In any case, “In Utero” is the perfect send-off from one of the best punks of any era; its complexity – lyrically and musically – showcased a band that could have done even greater things than they already did. P.S. For those interested, there is a punk-tribute to Nirvana called “Smells Like Bleach,” available from Cleopatra Records, featuring Dee Dee Ramone (from the Ramones), Dr. Know (from Bad Brains), Vice Squad, Agent Orange, UK Subs and other true punkers. The album includes covers of Nirvana songs by these artists. It too is a great send-off for the memory of the band.


Formed: 1987 in Aberdeen, WA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s

Prior to Nirvana, alternative music was consigned to specialty sections of record stores, and major labels considered it to be, at the very most, a tax write-off. After the band's second album, 1991's Nevermind, nothing was ever quite the same, for better and for worse. Nirvana popularized punk, post-punk, and indie rock, unintentionally bringing them into the American mainstream like no other band to date. While their sound was equal parts Black Sabbath (as learned by fellow Washington underground...
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