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Nirvana's In Utero (33 1/3)

Nirvana's In Utero (33 1/3) [Kindle Edition]

Gillian G. Gaar
2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Product Description

Product Description

Though Nevermind was Nirvana's most commercially successful album, and the record that broke them - and the grunge phenomenon - internationally, In Utero has increasingly become regarded as the band's best album, both by the critics and the band members themselves. Instead of sticking to the "grunge pop" formula that made Nevermind so palatable to the mainstream, Nirvana chose instead to challenge their audience, producing an album that the band's creative force, Kurt Cobain, said truly matched his vision of what he had always wanted his band to sound like. Here, the full story behind the creation of In Utero is told for the first time.

About the Author

Gillian G. Gaar is the author of She's a Rebel: The History of Women in Rock'n'Roll. She served as project consultant on the Nirvana box set With the Lights Out. She lives in Seattle.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 383 KB
  • Print Length: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Continuum; 1 edition (1 Sept. 2006)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00LXV77BA
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Remarkably unremarkable 16 Feb. 2014
By Sam Quixote TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I loved Nirvana when I was in high school. Nevermind was the first album I bought with money I earned from my first after school job, washing dishes in a local restaurant (and then played repeatedly in the kitchen much to the chefs’ annoyance!). I enjoyed In Utero but preferred Nevermind though the older I got the more I appreciated the variety and ambition of In Utero until it became my favourite Nirvana album. So continuing my exploration of the excellent 33 ⅓ series I thought I’d check out Gillian G. Gaar’s book on the album - which disappointingly turned out to be the worst I’ve come across in the range so far.

Put simply, the recording of In Utero was remarkably unremarkable. The band recorded demos in Brazil, they hired Steve Albini to produce it, they put together the record with Kurt changing the song titles as they went - just standard stuff. Kurt took lyrics from his journals, he recorded a version of Rape Me with his daughter on his knee, squalling in the background. Albini’s mix of the album was panned by the record label who wanted a more polished sound. So far, so dull - I’d read all of this before in Charles R. Cross’s biography of Kurt, Heavier Than Heaven.

Part of the problem is Gaar’s writing style. She writes something like “Krist wanted to raise the bass levels” and then there’s a quote from Krist where he says the same thing. Then Gaar writes another statement, backed up by another mundane quote. The style is akin to a kid writing an essay where they’re told that each point has to be backed up by a quote so the end result is a literal bland jumble of straightforward sentences. It also doesn’t help that most of the detail here is about the band tinkering with the sound, re-recording versions of songs, and spending two weeks on the track listing.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars From "In Utero" to birth 6 Oct. 2006
By Scott Bresinger - Published on
At the time of its release in 1993, Nirvana's final studio album, "In Utero," was so hotly anticipated that controversies arose before most people had even heard it. As a successor to a bajillion-selling behemoth ('91's "Nevermind," in case you've been under a very large rock for the last 20 years), how could it not be? Of course, once the album hit stores, and especially since Kurt Cobain's suicide, none of the backstory seemed to matter. Now, more than a decade later, author Gillian G. Gaar (apparently, a true "G") revisits the album that confirmed that Nirvana was a serious rock band and not some grunge-pop poseurs (and I can't tell you how many times I've had to defend my Nirvana t-shirt to passers by back in the day!).

This short book, one of Continuum Publishing's 33 1/3 series of books about classic pop music albums, focuses mainly on known facts. Therefore, many chapters detail the varied recording sessions that eventually resulted in the finished album. For instance, in the first chapter, Gaar covers the history of the song "Sappy," the best song the band wrote that never made it onto a proper album. We find out about the musical and lyrical changes the song had over the years. Unfortunately, Gaar doesn't print most of the lyrics from any version, so it's hard to appreciate these changes, much less interpret them. This sets up a pattern for the rest of the book, so mostly we get a string of dates and studios with relatively little context.

Also absent are details about the state of Cobain's physical and mental health during the "In Utero" sessions. Of course, based on the lyrics he wrote (we learn that Cobain would wait until the day of the vocal recording to finish them), it couldn't have been very good. These questions go beyond idle gossip even for fans, so it would've been good of Gaar to include that. Of course, this kind of material is covered tastefully in other books (most notably Charles R. Cross' Cobain bio, Heavier than Heaven: A Biography of Kurt Cobain), so some further reading may be required.

What Gaar does have, and in spades, is access. She was a project consultant on the Nirvana box set "With the Lights Out" (it gets referenced almost too much for my taste), and therefore some major players granted interviews. These include surviving band members Krist Noveselic and Dave Grohl, and the album's producer, Steve Albini. The notoriously acerbic Albini is rather restrained here, heaping praise on the band and holding back his feelings about DGC Records. One of the biggest controversies surrounding the album were press reports that the label felt the harsh, noisy album was "unreleasable." Nobody in the book seems to know if this was actually the case, and the company executives either weren't interviewed or still won't talk. As it turns out, the finished album was considered a triumph of artistic integrity, even with the remixing on a couple of tracks by R.E.M. producer Scott Litt.

Still, the book provides a fascinating snapshot of the band's creative development. It's definitely reccommended for Nirvana fans, as well as to all kinds of music obsessives. Even though some questions remain, this is a satisfying, if brief, read.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Organized collection of Information. 27 Sept. 2006
By J. Little - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Great Read, there are lots of tidbits that have come out over the years organized for you to make sense out of. There are several previously points that are clarified as the author did a thorough job researching the ambiguous nuggets of information and rumors floating about. She interviewed those in the know close to the band, members of the band, as well as renowned experts in the field of live recordings and concerts. Is everything in this book a revelation? No, but with Nirvana existence 12 years in the past and with all session and demo information that we've learned about over the years, the constant expectation of something groundbreaking and new is probably going to leave you disappointed more often than not. There is some new info, yes. Did I buy it for that? No, not at all. Personally, I like hearing information that we've known presented in a nice, organized, and well written fashion as much as (if not more than) new information. The new stuff is just icing on the cake. Great job on the book, Gillian. I hope that you continue to share Nirvana with us in all the various ways you have already.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The final word on the post Nevermind sessions 8 Dec. 2006
By C. Moise - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Anyone that is interested in questions like what Nirvana outtakes are still in the vaults or how many takes of a particular song were recorded will love this book. Most of the interviews are brand new and add insight to Nirvana's post Nevermind recording sessions. Let hope Gillian gets a chance to write books on Bleach and Nevermind for 33 1/3 as well..

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love Reading About My Favorite Album 21 Jun. 2014
By Mom Fears My Music - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This series is great but this one in particular is special for me because In Utero is my favorite album. This book tells a lot of stories about recording the album as well as some of the issues that were happening with the record company and production.
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 14 July 2007
By Mike Maguire - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is exactly what you want from a 33 1/3 book. There's no boring filler, the author doesn't dwell too much on things like pop culture at the time or Kurt's deat -- everything in it relates directly to the making of the album. It covers In Utero from every angle, it's very well researched, and it moves along great.

The only thing I would have liked to have seen more of is technical details about the recording process, such as the mics and equipment used. The bottom line though is that it's interesting from beginning to end.
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