IN UTERO (30th ANNIVERSARY EDITION)
For the past 30 years, Nirvana’s In Utero has always been an album that is meant to be taken in two parts. While we see a band that was on the cusp of primal musical growth and expansion, Nirvana was also dealing with the growing pains that come with wanting to change and grow as a band. In Utero was a testament to a band that tested the boundaries of the grunge genre, and in a sense, something poignant and alive came from its development. As one reflects on the latter part of this album, one can’t help but notice the profound sense of pain and sadness it exudes. Certain tracks seem to depict not only the struggle for musical freedom but also Cobain’s internal battles at the time. Although Cobain casually dismissed In Utero as a “joke” during a 1994 interview with American Songwriter, the tragic reality is that his death would soon become a devastating fact.
Looking at the latest 8LP Super Deluxe, 5CD Super Deluxe, 2CD Deluxe Edition, 1LP + 10-inch, super deluxe digital, and 96/24 HRA album digital remaster, Nirvana’s third and ultimately final magnum opus is being taken to new heights this time around. Although the controversial record didn’t receive the recognition it deserved compared to Nevermind due to its many difficulties that surrounded its release at the time, listening to this deluxe edition now feels like Nirvana is finally receiving the recognition it’s deserved in a brand-new, dynamic, and extended way.
It is crucial to consider In Utero in its context. If Cobain had not reacted to the significant mainstream success of Nevermind with such disillusionment, this version of In Utero would not have existed. For a band that was already challenging the boundaries of rock and defying the expectations of “corporate rock,” this was already a problem, not just for Nirvana but for Cobain himself. He had his vision for what In Utero should sound like and felt that Nevermind had been too commercial. Cobain wanted to return to basics, to something more authentic and raw, similar to their first record, Bleach.
From remastered tracks like “Serve The Servants,” “Radio Friendly Unit Shifter,” “All Apologies,” Milk It,” and “Pennyroyal Tea,” we hear this sense of connectedness and authenticity come through the way it was intended. Nirvana’s extensive approach to not overthinking things can be felt throughout this experience. Listening to live performances of “Come As You Are, ” “Drain You,” and “Smells Like Teen Spirit” also gives this version of these songs the authentic push that Nirvana wanted their prior album to have and combining these live performances with the raw approach of In Utero feel more complete. While the lyricism within In Utero is some of the best of Nirvana’s career, it is often overlooked that Grohl’s percussive prowess in songs such as “Sappy”, ” I Hate Myself and Want To Die,” and beautiful live performances on the album such as “Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge” truly shine in all their glory.
While many of these anniversary editions come and go, this one is particularly exceptional because it feels like they have gone to great lengths to make this feel like an immersive experience. In a day and age where most people will consume lots of music through their headphones now before going to live events, this 30th-anniversary edition has gone to great lengths to make every live performance feel like you are present with Nirvana at the time these events were recorded. While we can sadly no longer see Cobain and hear him live, this is the best connection we can get to those unforgettable performances, and Cobain and the gang have never felt so alive in each moment.
SPILL ALBUM REVIEW: NIRVANA – IN UTERO (30th ANNIVERSARY EDITION)