When the album becomes Immersion
Reviewed by Raoul Hernandez, Fri., Dec. 9, 2011
NirvanaNevermind Limited Edition (Universal)
"There's more cameras in here than in a 7-11," cracks Nirvana's de facto stage announcer, bassist Krist Novoselic, midway through Nirvana's 1991 Halloween concert in Seattle. Certainly, Kurt Cobain's not talking – not with all the cameramen onstage. "So, like, 2 percent of you are dressed in costumes," observes Dave Grohl, a flail of hair, harmonies, and lean percussive muscle throughout. "Personally I think that's pretty lame." Filmed less than six weeks after the release of the punk trio's second album, Nevermind, Nirvana's performance comes off clean, well-lit, professional. Likewise, the audio-visual portion of this 4-CD/1-DVD 20th anniversary box mirrors the rest of the lavish repackage; despite the band's freight train pummel on the penultimate "Territorial Pissings" and a final fuck you from Cobain on the guitar demolition that began as "Endless, Nameless," Live at the Paramount – also included as a CD – comes off as otherwise bloodless. Joyless. That goes double for the lifeless remastering of the original LP, bolstered by B-sides and long-missing bonus track "Pay To Play." Three different protomixes of Nevermind flesh out the set, the first two packaged into the new 2-CD version of the disc, and the third – exclusive to this edition – now more dynamic than the remaster. Added guitar to an early "Immodium (Breed)" doesn't match the bulky price tag here, and only Nevermind's four MTV videos retain their eerie power, Grohl's whirlpool mane contrasting Cobain's severe, white-light charisma on the atomic "Smells Like Teen Spirit." Oh well, whatever, Nevermind.