Pop albums: Nirvana From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah Geffen GED 25105

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The Independent Culture
Who listens to Nirvana now? Apart, that is, from the Unplugged album, which furnishes an appealingly fragile, contemplative memorial to a career born in frustration and concluded in desperation.

Two and a half years after the band's abrupt end, Kris Novoselic and Dave Grohl - the other two - have compiled what they consider a more representative example of their strengths as a live band. It's pretty much as remembered: a blend of sulk and anger parcelled out sequentially, with quiet bits invariably followed, in typical manic-depressive manner, by loud bits. Such was Kurt Cobain's rhetorical style: whinge quietly for a while, then complain loudly, like a child demanding attention by incrementally offensive means.

It was never, to be honest, any affair of mine - the conjunction of fatalistic nihilism and heavy rock seemed a dangerously abysmal mix, as it subsequently proved - so I've never been wracked with guilt about how my attention may have contributed to Cobain's suicide, the way some fans have. Others, of course, have never worried about that at all, which just goes to show how ineffectual Cobain's art really was: it didn't save his life, and it hasn't changed theirs.

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