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From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah (Live)

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iTunes Review

Recorded at random shows between December 1989 and January 1994, Wishkah captures the live firepower of this great Northwestern grunge band with all the raw emotion, bleeding guitar chords, and relentless, pummeling rhythms in place. Compiled by the surviving members after singer Kurt Cobain’s tragic suicide, Wishkah is very much alive with sonic blasts of incredible punk, pop and industrial power. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” was the obvious anthem that no one could resist, but there are so many rewarding moments captured here, from the quick, desperate blast of “Sliver” to the Black Sabbath-inspired chording of “School” to the pleading underscoring the delicate emotions of “Polly.” In the end, however, it is Cobain’s parched voice, his inner frustrations executed so brilliantly that lead the group. “Negative Creep” is the sound of inner self-loathing taken to the extreme. “Drain You” takes its pop roots and turns darker. “Heart-Shaped Box” retains its foreboding power. “Scentless Apprentice,” “Tourette’s,” and “Milk It” expose the band’s uncompromisingly abrasive side. There’s no denying this band’s commitment to its material.

Customer Reviews

Excellent, moving moments.

This is Nirvana fully electrified and punk, blasting our ears with sound in a pleasurable manner. "Tourette's," "Milk It," and "Sliver" are particularly good. It's more for people who enjoy the high-energy side of Nirvana; if you want sensitive, buy "MTV Unplugged in New York." This is nonetheless a standout work, even as it is pieced together from various shows. Put it on in your car, put the windows up, and sing along as loud as you can.

A must for any true fan

Of Nirvana’s two officially released live albums, this one is the best in terms of concept and execution. While most reviewers and casual listeners appreciate and laud the melodic structure of “MTV Unplugged,” that album was mostly a lark (but still good homage to their punk heritage, see my review) that turned into the very thing that the band wanted to avoid – their enshrinement as a vacuous rock and roll band. It is fitting then that after Cobain’s death and the disbanding of Nirvana that Kris and Dave decided to release “From the Muddy Banks of Wishkah.” The title holds the key to the album’s genius: This is the raw, non-manicured, obscure – and thus true – Nirvana. Most reviews (including the official one) note that this is closest to what Nirvana sounded like on stage and that point should not be taken lightly. This was unaltered Nirvana - raw, uncompromising, melodic, fun, and meant for a particular audience who could appreciate those qualities, not for general consumption and casual listening. The recordings are among the best that could have been selected, but the fact that it was released on a major label is why “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “Lithium” were included. (Had the record execs not complained and controlled the money, these two would have been nixed.) The only better live collection is the “Outcesticide” series – an unofficial release of B-sides and early live versions of album tracks circulated in the immediate years after the disbanding. Punk rock had a great band in Nirvana. Unlike the popular image, they were not spokespeople or a generation role models, nor was Cobain a spiritual or tragic figure; they were simply a great band that opened the way for what they hoped would have been a movement of the true punk ethos to the fore. For a brief moment it happened. Seattle punk bands (e.g., Bikini Kill, Mudhoney) become accessible to the masses, which opened the door for old and existing punk bands nationwide to break through and present the core of punk – feminism, anti-racist action, and stances against homophobia – to the masses. But, the record industry ultimately won by manufacturing and marketing “punk” (read “pseudo-punk” or, even better, “new New Wave”) to the masses as a hollow rebel yell completely devoid of meaning or substance (see bands like Green Day, Blink-182, Good Charlotte, etc.) and creating radio-friendly Nirvana clones like Bush. That’s why this album is so vital. For those who really listen to it, it reveals what second wave punk music was and could have been even on major labels, but sadly isn’t now. (There still is good second wave punk, but on independent labels.) Any track from this album is a treat for Nirvana fans (especially Nirvana’s very first song “Spank Thru”) and a reminder that commercial interests are not the only reasons to make music.


Nirvana is a great band and they have a huge fan base. If you like rock then youll like this and it is a great album.


Formed: 1987 in Aberdeen, WA

Genre: Alternative

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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