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Nevermind Turns 20: Smells Like Record Sales

This year marks the 20th anniversary of Nirvana’s monumental attack on the mainstream market. It’s time to look back at the band and look forward to a new commemorative album release.

Let’s go back in time. It’s Sept. 24, 1991. You just got home from your favorite record shop, maybe NRM, or the audio-video section of Phar-Mor.

Peeling back the cellophane wrapper of the new tape you just bought, you’re excited to hear a brand new release from a brand new band.

You pop the cassette into your boombox, and, WOW, the music’s like nothing you’ve ever heard before.

Do you remember that cassette tape? It was called Nevermind, and it was Nirvana’s first major-label release.

Ranking at #17 on Rolling Stone’s "500 Greatest Albums of All Time," and considered by many contemporary musicians, critics and fans to be one of the most pivotal and influential musical creations of the past half-century, Nevermind turned 20 this year.

Words like landmark, maverick, breakthrough and genius have been used to describe the record since its 1991 release, as well as words like favorite, legendary and timeless.

And all have been used for good reason.

Nirvana helped bring a new breed of rock to the forefront of the music scene, dethroning King of Pop Michael Jackson from his familiar seat at the top of Billboard charts in Jan. 1992, less than six months after Nevermind’s debut.

The fathers of grunge were a trio of misfits who came from nothing but artistic visions and lofty dreams. Their music swelled across the world, appeasing those who were tired of nothing but happy-go-lucky pop tunes and bands with big hair.

Angst-ridden teens and awkward young adults found an icon in frontman Kurt Cobain, whose dulcet voice cried out over his hard-hitting riffs. With the face of an angel and the greasy hair of a rock god, Cobain became a modish sex symbol. He was dirty, careless, belligerent at times, and an introverted artist at heart—a complicated and complex bad boy who global admirers couldn’t help but love.

Nor could they help but mourn him when he died in 1994.

Cobain’s apparent suicide, however, did not kill Nirvana. Though the band was no more upon his death, Nirvana’s legacy lived on.

Dave Grohl went on to find Foo Fighters fame, and Nirvana’s sound can still be heard wherever music is played, both in the airplay of its classics and in the new works of other bands who attribute Nirvana with paving their way to the stage.

Another way the legacy lives on is by the reissues of Nirvana’s catalog and releases of vaulted recordings, such as what’s going down now…

To commemorate Nevermind’s 20th anniversary, and the fact that tracks like “Smells Like Teen Spirit” aint’ teens no more, Geffen Records is staggering the release of a few different reissued, remastered and revamped Nevermind discs and deluxe sets.

A single-disc remastered reissue of the album will be released on Sept. 27, as will a 2-CD Deluxe Edition, which features 40 tracks, including the title’s original 12 songs and rare and/or previously unreleased B-sides, mixes, covers and rehearsal sessions.

The same two score of songs will spin out on a 4-LP Deluxe Edition vinyl set that will be unleashed on Oct. 4.

Three weeks later, on Oct. 25, a numbered-edition 4-CD/DVD Super Deluxe Edition will be made public in limited quantities. Only 40,000 copies of the set will be available for purchase, with 10,000 available in North America and 30,000 available to the rest of the world.

In addition to everything contained on the Deluxe set, the Super Deluxe set will offer an early production/mix of the album made prior to its 1991 commercial release, a DVD of all four music videos from Nevermind singles, and a 90-page book replete with newly-released photos, documents and other archival images.

Brandt Hardin September 27, 2011 at 07:50 PM
Kurt changed my life with his insightful and surreal music and lyrics. I only wished he could have stuck around to make more to listen to for future generations. I was compelled to compose a portrait of him In Memoriam recently on the anniversary of his death on my artist’s blog at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2011/04/in-memoriam-kurt-cobain-and-lane-staley.html Drop in and tell me your memories of his music and how it’s affected you.
Sarah Beth Martin September 28, 2011 at 11:24 AM
Hi Brandt - Thanks for your comment. You and I are probably from the same era. I join you in wishing that Kurt had stuck around to make more music. The world lost a great voice the day he died. He changed the face of music and helped a lot of teens find expression, and could have done so for years to come had his life and talent not been snuffed out. I checked out your artist's blog and was really touched by your Cobain portrait. You really captured his complexity. It's both beuatiful and haunting. Thanks again for your comment, and for reading!

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