Newermind: A Tribute
July 22, 2011
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Spin Magazine curated and today released an album called Newermind: A Tribute in recognition of the 20th anniversary of the release of Nirvana’s landmark album Nevermind. Being twenty years old myself it is a testament to the timeless and universal quality of this album that has been so important to me that it was released just a few months after my birth. It was an album that personally gave me a sense of solidarity in a time when I felt very alone, its raw energy and attack, combined with a great emotional depth is hardly matched by any other artists. However, enough about Nevermind, it is almost universally accepted as one of the great albums of modern rock. The tribute album features a cover of every track from Nevermind by different artists of very diverse genres, ranging from the Midnight Juggernauts to the Meat Puppets.
I have listened to it once through and thoroughly enjoyed every track. Every track is a different interpretation of Nirvana’s masterpiece and once again the quality of the original work shines through with each reworking. The album opens with the classic Smells Like Teen Spirit covered by a band that was very close to Nirvana while they were still together; the Meat Puppets. Nirvana toured with the Meat Puppets and covered several of their tracks on their 1994 live album MTV Unplugged, so it seems fitting that they were selected to cover Nirvana’s most recognized single. They do well to add their folk rock style to this version while maintaining the high energy of the original. Come As You Are covered by Midnight Juggernauts is probably the weakest track – it seemed a shame to hide Vin Vendetta’s discintive vocals on this classic. Breed by Titus Andronicus and Territorial Pissings by Surfer Blood are fairly straight foward covers from similiary styled and influenced bands to Nirvana. Lithium covered by The Vaselines, a favourite band of Kurt Cobain is another highlight, backed with harmonising moans and an organ The Vaselines produce a stripped back and subtle version of the song, revealing the sheer depth of the poetry and haunting sadness of the original. Polly as covered by Amanda Palmer begins with quiet xylophone and the enduring lyrics “Polly wants a cracker, I think I should get off her first.” Palmer’s vocal interpretation is chilling, contrasted with a warm acoustic banjo culminating in a brilliant rendition of the song about the rape of a girl that moved Kurt Cobain so much. Drain You by Foxy Shazam is another highlight, the female vocals and inclusion of a trumpet to replace the guitar solo melding perfectly. Stay Away infuses the punk rock archetype with a great funk feel and Charles Bradley’s jazz crooning . Something In The Way reminds the listener once again of Cobain’s lyrical prowess although fails to capture the despairing original tone of the album closer. Overall, this is a very good album that pays rightful tribute to a Nirvana’s classic album, and lead me to yet again to revisit Nirvana’s undeniably fantastic back catalogue.
Newermind: A Tribute can be downloaded for free here