Nirvana – Nevermind (1991)

July 7, 2008 at 3:16 pm | Posted in Album Review, Albums Rated 9/10 | Leave a comment
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RATING: 9/10

OK, so I have set myself the task of reviewing the second most overrated albums of the 90’s (the first being OK Computer) whilst trying not to offend anyone and also trying to be fair.  It has been quite some time since I have listened to Nevermind all the way through.  Back in the day I listened to it endlessly and loved it.  It is a great album, certainly a very important album, maybe the most important of the 90’s.  However, it is also a very ‘cool’ album.  Many people give this top marks without thinking about it because it’s cool to like Nirvana isn’t it?  Cobain was such a tortured genius wasn’t he?  My friends will think less of me if I don’t like this album won’t they?

I personally am not bothered about what is cool, what is not, about being pretentious etc.  If I like something then I like it, not because I’m expected to like it.  The same goes for if I dislike something.

Having said all that, I really enjoy this album.  It is a very solid piece of work; there are no problems at all with running through this from beginning to end, each song ranges from good to great and the power and energy runs throughout.  Add that to the nostalgia I feel, remembering listening to it as an 11 year old, then a few years later when everyone started listening again after Cobain’s death, then it surpasses being just an album; it becomes part of my coming of age.

Smells Like Teen Spirit- Straight off the bat we get a cool riff and then BAM, the power hits us.  Like the album, this track is overrated and overplayed.  We shouldn’t let this detract from the fact that it is still a fantastic anthem, which the so-called Generation X embraced.  A very powerful opener for an album, everybody’s attention was grabbed and all eyes were on Seattle.

In Bloom- This next track is as every bit as good as Teen Spirit.  Cobain’s guttural vocals, a big fat baseline and a great solo combine to bring us a superb song that sometimes gets forgotten, wedged between two better known titles.

Come As You Are- Featuring some of the best lyrics on the album and a hugely famous intro, Come As You Are is only second to Teen Spirit when it comes to popularity and fame amongst the Nirvana catalogue.  For me this is the best track on the album, Nirvana’s best song in fact.  Absolutely incredible. Listen to Come As You Are

Breed- Grohl’s drums propel Breed throughout the next three minutes.  Cobain is great on vocals, the lyrics are once again very good and a middle eight that loses none of the songs fire and tempo.

Lithium- ‘I’m so happy cos today I’ve found my friends, they’re in my head.  I’m so ugly, that’s ok cos so are you’ are my favourite lyrics from the album.  The chorus is the very essence of the grunge movement.  One of the best crafted songs on Nevermind. Listen to Lithium

Polly- Not as innocent as it first sounds, this acoustic track has darker undertones.  A slight change in mood here as we have a softer song with no loud moments, just Kurt, his guitar and minimal background.

Territorial Pissings- Pure energy is the only way to describe this song.  The drums, guitar and vocals all strain together to give this odd and almost novelty song a brute force that almost smashes it’s way through the speakers.

Drain You- Another underrated track on an album with so many highlights.  The balance between all elements is spot on, including the brilliant lyrics.

Lounge Act- The intro starts with a big fat meaty bass line and then the track develops quite an upbeat tempo.  The vocals show off both sides of Kurt’s abilities; in the first half we get his singing voice which is low and rough, then in the second half we get his scream and yell which makes his voice even more gravelly.  His voice IS grunge.

Stay Away- ‘Rather be dead than cool’ perhaps the most fitting and revealing lyrics that Kurt Cobain penned.  A good solid track with brilliant drumming by Dave Grohl.

On A Plain- One of my favourite nirvana songs; everything about it, once again, fits together just right.  I just love the way the lyrics kick in at the start. Listen to On A Plain

Something In The Way- We started off with a heavy anthem but know we end the album on a quiet note.  This is even more laid back than Polly and it is so much better.  A very simple tune with a very simple yet beautiful harmony on the chorus, this is the most understated track on the album and, hence, the most underrated.

There is a hidden track called ‘Endless, Nameless’.  It doesn’t really fit with the rest of the album and isn’t a great track, however there is some good musicianship going on and a few good melodies intertwined with the rawness of the singing.

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Pulp-Different Class (1995)

June 25, 2008 at 12:28 pm | Posted in Album Review, Albums Rated 9/10 | Leave a comment
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RATING: 9/10

In 1995 Pulp managed to do three great things. First off, they gave a fantastic performance at Glastonbury that put the other acts to shame. Secondly, they released Different Class and thirdly, Jarvis Cocker invaded a Michael Jackson performance at the Brits. Well, ok, maybe two great things.

In the mid-nineties the media, and thousands of ‘sheep’ trying to be cool by following everyone else, were hyping the battle for best album between Blur and Oasis. Unfortunately, both bands failed to deliver anything thought provoking or different. What’s The Story (Morning Glory) was a good album, filled with anthems for a generation, but lacked any real depth to it and was weaker than Oasis’ debut effort.  The Great Escape by Blur again was weaker than its predecessor Of course, those thousands rushed out and bought them and raved about them in all the ‘cool’ music magazines.

However, 1995 produced at least two better albums. One was Stanley Road by Paul Weller and this one.

The first thing that makes this album stand out is the lyrics. Cocker is a master of writing witty lyrics that make you laugh and smile and are also a brilliant observation on everyday life. He writes about anxiety, struggles, frustrations, excitement, love and bewilderment and his singing pushes this to an extra level where you can feel all of this emotion in his performance. A clear contrast to when he is talking in a near-monotone voice. The songs and Cocker’s singing contain so much energy where needed and the quality of the vocals can be surprising sometimes.

All the songs are truly fantastic, over ten years on and they still sound just as good. It was a breath of fresh air when it was released and maybe it is because it doesn’t sound like the rest of the ‘Brit-pop’ that it doesn’t sound dated.
Pulp go to show that it is ok to look nerdy and to be different than what is considered cool. Cocker is a vast contrast to Liam Gallagher and yet he displays a presence whilst performing on stage that Liam could never achieve, with a voice that can portray more emotion than most of the ‘cool’ bands around at that time. Different Class? Yes. Better Class? Definitely.

Track listing:

1. Mis-Shapes: A catchy anthem for people who look ‘different’ saying how it’s ok to look geeky and not as cool as the rest of the crowd, and how these people are going to take over someday. Listen to Mis-Shapes

2. Pencil Skirt:  A pleasant little tune about Jarvis, a girl and the problems of young love.

3. Common People:  This tune was the anthem in Britain during the summer of 1995. Common People quickly became the ‘anthem’ of the year, and rightly so. It was more infectious than anything Blur or Oasis had to offer that year. Awesome lyrics, fantastic vocals and brilliant melodies.  Even the amount of times this was over played on the radio couldn’t kill its effectiveness and brilliance. Listen to common-people

4. I Spy:  More great lyrics, haunting undertones and another excellent example of Cocker’s vocal prowess, his low tones give this song its edge.

5. Disco 2000:  Very catchy disco tune that you can’t get out of your head, more great humorous lyrics.

6. Live Bed Show: A song that grows on you, tells an interesting story.

7. Something Changed:  A run of the mill love song that sounds a bit out of place but still a nice little tune.

8. Sorted For E’s & Whizz:  A song about going to raves and the morning after, lovely tune and interesting images left in the mind.

9. F.E.E.L.I.N.G.C.A.L.L.E.D.L.O.V.E:  An odd song that isn’t without its good points, takes a while to get going though.

10. Underwear:  The angst of teenage love is expressed in this great song.  Great lyrics and stunning vocals. Listen to Underwear

11. Monday Morning: Catchy upbeat tune, lyrics are top notch.

12. Bar Italia:  This one really grew on me, a nice end to a fantastic album.


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