Phases & Stages


Bleach (Deluxe Edition) (Sub Pop)


Live at Reading (Geffen/UMe)

"Bleach recorded in Seattle at Reciprocal Recordings by Jack Endino for $600." Twenty years later, that liner note expanded into a mini picture book, Nirvana's first album now sounds like the United States Mint. Toasty as vinyl, comparable to Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab's CDs of Nevermind (1991) and In Utero (1993), firstborn Bleach reiterates its place not at the front of the line but in between its two older brawlers. Kurdt Kobain, Chris Novoselic, and drummer Chad Channing, as the Aberdeen, Wash., act was originally listed on its debut and remains on this economical deluxe reissue, had both songs (Nevermind) and pure punk brawn (In Utero). Cobain's first side of songs on Bleach put in the knife ("Paper Cuts"), and the flip side of riff and bash ("Mr. Moustache") wields a meat cleaver. George Marino, master masterer and remasterer, does the rest with all the clarity of the Beatles reissues. Cobain's echoed guitar god solo on "Blew," Novoselic's bass burble in "About a Girl," and earthen backhoe "Negative Creep" all rumble and tumble, while a raw live set from the following year includes un-Bleach-ed goodies like first Nirvana "Spank Thru," Vaselines cover "Molly's Lips," and "Sappy," which later appeared as an untitled track on AIDS benefit No Alternative. New DVD/CD combo Live at Reading rides the wave of mutilation that was Nevermind, but its best moments dump Bleach, the busy shoot pausing to catch Cobain picking out debut detention "School." The two-minute thrash of "Tourette's" sandwiched by a bare-bottomed "About a Girl" and stripped "Polly" contrast the blunt force trauma of "Negative Creep." Dedicating a verge-of-collapse "All Apologies" to his wife and 12-day-old daughter before having the crowd say "We love you, Courtney" pays off in the frontman's shy smile afterward. Only a guitar-abused "Love Buzz" doesn't make it onto the accompanying CD. We love you Kurdt Kobain.

(Both) ****

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