on 26 September 2013
A great collection!! Slipped disc 1 in, remastered version of the original release, very good, sounds all good, impressed so far, decent collection of b-sides and non album tracks on this disc too, including Albini's original versions of HSB and AA, so far so good.
Now disc 2, a brand new mix of the album done by Steve Albini himself, let me tell you, it is AMAZING!!!! After owning this for 1 day, I have listened to this mix multiple times and it has become the definitive version of In Utero for me, things are different on this mix, alternative guitar solo's, alternative lead guitars, the mix itself is raw and edgy but thicker with more body, it has its feet planted in the DC Alternative Music Scene, one problem I always had with In Utero was that it didn't seem know if it was either alternative or mainstream while trying to be both, this mix sorts that out 100%, it's personality has been defined as Alternative Punk and its a glorious thing to listen too.
Now, I didn't give a full 5 stars for one reason, the extra tracks from disc 1 and 2 should be swapped, then it would be perfect.
The Steve Albini 2013 mix is In Utero as it always should have been.
on 26 September 2013
20 years already? Christ, I feel old.
Like many of my generation, Nirvana were more than just a rock n' roll band. Nevermind, and the band that made it, were the gateway into a whole world of underground music and art that people like me still are still burrowing into two decades later. At the time, In Utero was met with a degree of bafflement, and to some extent derision from the press and the legions of fans the band had accumulated in the preceding two years. The band, and particularly Kurt, had made it clear that they were deeply uncomfortable with the level of fame thrust upon them and this was their attempt to wrest back control from the big machine. Ironically, Kurt's pop instincts were never sharper than on this record; look beyond the raw production, the feral performances and the layers of feedback and you'll find a record with better songs and vastly more emotional weight than it's more famous predecessor. If Kurt had lived, they probably would never have made another record - I mean, where can you go from here?
This record is the best representation of Nirvana's "classic" line up. Dave Grohl, who on Nevermind was actually playing the parts written by former drummer Chad Channing, here shows us what he's made of - driving the songs forward with his Led-Zep-goes-hardcore beats that seem to spur the band on to another level of hugeness. Plenty had happened in Cobain's life in the preceding two years, and he had no shortage of things to write about - marriage, his family, drugs, childbirth, selling out, sociopathic perfumers... It's a testament to how good Nirvana were as a band that despite the dark subject matter and hair-raising performances that what resulted was a record that stands up against any other album from any other decade.
As regards the record itself, I don't have the remastered version, however, I'm going by the assumption that the fabled Albini mix contained here is the same as the one accidentally issued on vinyl a few years back. For those unfamiliar with the back story, In Utero was recorded, mixed and mastered by Steve Albini. At the last minute, the band or the record company (depending on who you believe) chose to have three songs (Heart-Shaped Box, Pennyroyal Tea and All Aplologies) remixed by R.E.M. producer Scott Litt to make them more radio-friendly. Additionally, the whole record was remastered and slightly compressed to make it sound less raw.
Around the mid-2000s, Universal reissued the album on vinyl. For some reason, the mastering engineer cut the record from the Albini tapes instead of the cleaned-up Litt tapes. The differences are subtle, but noticble. For a start, vocals are mixed much lower, and not double-tracked. The bass is thicker and heavier, the drums have more presence and the stereo image is wider. The overall sound of the record is frankly monumental.
Nevermind might be the record on a million "best ever" magazine lists and a million T-shirts, but In Utero stands as the record that cemented Nirvana's place among the greats.
on 1 August 2009
Following on from the massive success of 'Nevermind', Nirvana arguably set out to create something that would be less easily digested - a sort of 'protest' against their new-found popularity. What you get here is a less polished, less radio-friendly effort (clearly the intention with ironic song titles like 'Radio-Friendly Unit Shifter'), but the album is nevertheless stunning. 'Heart-Shaped Box' and 'All Apologies' are desperately sad songs with hauntingly beautiful melodies, whilst tracks like 'Tourettes' and 'Scentless Apprentice' offer nothing but unbridled fury - thundering drums, frantic riffs and blood-curdling vocals.
Although many speculate about the circumstances surrounding Cobain's death, it is difficult to believe when listening to this album that Cobain was not a man nearing his end; a man whose inner demons were getting the better of him. The greatest tradegy was that such incredible songs had to be the product of one man's pain and anguish.
An album to be listened to with a heavy heart, but certainly not one to be missed.
on 30 December 2013
Excellent 3LP 180 gram set, direct metal remastered at Abbey Road Studios and pressed by Pallas. Sound quality is superb throughout. My only criticism regards the packaging - the cover/sleeve could have been a couple of millimeters larger because the records are quite tight getting them in and out.
on 6 July 2015
Its too easy to forget just how good nirvana were.
And this is nirvana, in the same way that mellon collie as smashing pumpkins and the fragile is nin.
Its certainly not easier to listen to than nevermind, but surely that says it all.
this is nirvana at their peak, incredible vocal harmonies, full and rich guitar sounds and varied...
Classic doesn't really cover it.. nirvana were more than just a band in the early nineties and in utero is more than an album.
on 23 September 2013
As a lifelong fan of Nirvana and Kurt Cobain, this is the ultimate tribute to their greatest achievement! It's a shame this album has always lived in the shadow of Nevermind. For me, this album is powerful, emotional and raw and show's Kurt at his ultimate best.
The 2013 mix of the album works wonderfully with the guitars sounding more edgy and Kurt's vocals made clearer giving a whole new take on a classic album. A remastered version of the album is also there but to me, this doesn't sound much different from the original, it's the 2013 mix that you need to hear! Also included are the b-sides (also given a new 2013 mix) and some original 1993 mixes from when the album was originally released. The demo's and instrumentals are also superb offering great sound quality and further insight to how great this band really were! There is also a demo of 'Marigold' which is the earliest know recording of Dave Grohl so you even get a little piece of history too!
The dvd is also superb. A full concert from December 13th 1993 in Seattle. The venue isn't big but in my opinion it's Nirvana at their best. I honestly don't think you will find any footage of Nirvana as raw as this. Kurt is at his best from start to finish and the introduction of 2nd guitarist, Pat Smear, shows the direction in which the band were going. The dvd also contains rehearsal footage for the gig and various other live performances totalling over 2 hours of footage! If that wasn't enough, you also get the full concert on disc 3 as well as a hardback book with rare pictures and all of Kurt's handwritten lyrics to the album.
All in all, it's a fantastic package and worth every penny. If you're a fan then you must have this in your collection! It further makes you realise the talent of Kurt Cobain and how much of a loss he is to the music industry.
on 10 April 2002
Everyone has an opinion on Nirvana it seems, even if it's just that they like the intensely catchly Smells like Teen Spirit riff which seemed to pervade the country (Even the BBC used it). Nirvana have been taken up by the black-hooded generation and put alongside the likes of Blink 182, Slipknot and other trite rubbish, this is wholly unfair and a real shame for the music, now don't think me snobbish for saying this but Nirvana was so much more than 'Punk' or even 'Pop Punk',this album shows it.
Whereas Nevermind contained what were basically 12 catchy pop-punk songs, albeit far more talented lyrically, In Utero is a torrent of emotion, anger, angst and melancholy. The opening track Serve the Servant is a thinly veiled attack, lines like 'I just want you to know dad, I don't hate you anymore' and 'I tried to hard to have a father but instead I had a dad', musically the song is a little poor but I think this is intended. 'Scentless Apprentice' is next and a fantastic simply, roaring punk song, yet if you listen closely aside from the crashing drums and vicious guitar riff there is a agonized, whining of feedback and high pitched squeal making the song very dark, Kurt's seemingly incoherent vocals adding to the doomy and abrasive feel of this song.
'Heart Shaped Box' is next and argurably one of the finest Nirvana songs, definetly the finest Video, after reading 'Heavier than Heaven' by Charles R Cross you can really understand this song a lot more. The song is lyrically a masterpiece with slightly disturbing lines such as 'Broken Hymen of your Highness' and 'I wish I could eat you're cancer, when you turn black', the meaning of this song, as with most of them, is open to debate, but it appears to be a love song. 'Rape Me' follows and though the 12 Year Olds may giggle at the title and Headmasters be offended by it, the song reeks of irony, I don't think it is a coincidence that a song, conceivably about how Kurt feels his music has been gutted by the Music industy, media and MTV has an almost identical riff to their MTV smash 'Smells Like Teen Spirit'. The album continues with 'Frances farmer will Have Her Revenge on Seattle' the fifth track, showing more of the angry, abrasive but haunting ways in which the band manipulate their instruments and then moves onto real beauty in 'Dumb', this gorgeous, haunting song leaves a real mark and shows Kurt's fantastic ability to write beautiful music. This tranquility is crushed with the 'ccrrrckckk crr crccckck' of 'Very Ape' (Good impression no?), a punk song but (now i'm repeating myself) just slightly darker and more abrasive and this particular song doesn't seem to become stale as quickly as most 'Punk' tracks seem to. Then, showing a twisted sense of humour and with possible references to his relationship with either Courtney or his fans we crash headlong into 'Milk It', a thoroughly dark, inaccesible track that takes a lot of effort to really enjoy, and then real enjoyment when you actually can. Pennyroyal Tea is up next, which I consider the weakest track on the album, having heard the 'Unplugged' version first I was struck by how poor the In Utero version is, but still, for those of you who just want heavyness, this won't dissapoint.
'Radio Friendly Unit Shifter' appears to be an attack on the media, it includes extremely strange 'boink' noises and is generally and odd and innaccesible track. 'tourette's' follows and again shows Kurt's fantastic sense of humour, and a fantastic prophecy on what would follow his music, a song named after a syndrome that involves someone shouting very loud at every opportunity is simply 4 power chords repeated with screamed vocals, though this seems to be an obvious joke (for what purpose i'm not sure), nowadays this sort of thing is not only normal but taken completely serious with bands having decided to get rid of that convention of 'singing' and might we say 'talent' and scream their words into a microphone. 'All Apologies' finishes the album off in beautiful haunting style and would all the homophobic idiots who enjoy this band take note of the line 'What else could I say, everyone is gay' and kindly stop enjoying the music. Kurt's enviable outlook on life is something to be appreciated, in a time populated by Guns 'n Roses, Aerosmith and other macho, chauvinistic and outdated bands, Nirvana promoted tolerance and thoughtfulness and that has to be a good thing in any time.
So there it is, my review, hope you enjoyed it. In Utero is a masterpiece and far surpasses Nevermind, though many extremely talented bands used their talent to create melodic and pretty tunes, Nirvana uses it's unquestionable talent to create a hate and angst filled, dark, haunting and beautiful masterpiece. In many ways, this is the perfect way to remember Kurt, along with the Unplugged session, he was a man who was so talented and inspirational. The thousands of imitators can reproduce what they view as Nirvana: Slipknot may be angry, but it's forced and obvious, the legions of Pop- and Ska-Punk may try to make bare, catchy riffs, but it's bought and packaged, the rawness of this album is real, unpackaged and unprocessed yet never throws itself in your face. I will get down off my soapbox now, if you've read up to here, let me just say thank you.
on 15 June 2001
In Utero is without doubt, the best album I have ever heard and it has to go down as one of the best albums ever. The one fault that Nevermind as an album had was that the sound, in my opinion was just too clean. In Utero, on the other hand, goes bac to the raw, rough at the edges passion that prevails on bleach, and surpasses it. Every song has a powerful meaning, every song is played with passion. The music makes you sit up, listen and think. It is a tribute to the true genius that Kurt Cobain was.
The album starts off perfectly, with Serve The Servants. On hearing this song, I knew that the album was going to be good. The first 5 songs are great, and although it slows down a bit, the pace is picked up again with the unbelievably emotional Pennyroyal Tea, continues with the ironic Radio Friendly Unit Shifter, tourette's and closes with a classic - All Apologies. It's almost as if Kurt is apologising to the mainstream for daring to be different, but thats all he could be - all in all is all we all are. The album is a classic, and should really be an essential purchase in everyone's record collection.
on 13 October 2006
With the likes of 'Nevermind' it is understandable why 'In Utero' as overly praised as one might think, but people... this is nothing short of a masterpiece.
I'm now 16 and I have loved heavy music since I was 10, I've gone from nu-metal to hard rock to death metal to grindcore to pink floyd and have for some time now stuck with Thrash, but I have never gone off Nirvana, It's not really a case of what kind of music you're into, 'coz you're gonna have to notice Nirvana sometime, and think that 'In Utero' strikes a point at what Cobain was trying to do... Make Music. Full Stop. Something which a lot of bands/artists don't focus on these days, because obviously how much hype one gets and what they wear is a lot more important...
Anyway, here's a rating and brief description for the songs...
Serve The Servants 9/10
- A great opening track, excellent chorus, and a generally uplifting
grunge song to generally excellent grunge album
Scentless Apprentice 9.5/10
- Fantastic, gritty, grungy, punky song. Every part of it is pure brilliance, the metal-esque verse riff, the build-up pre-chorus and of course "Gooo aawwaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyy!!!
Heart Shaped Box 9/10
- Probably the most popular track on the album. And for a reason. Truly one of Nirvana's classics. The lyrics and the guitar, both clean and drive, make this an unforgettable
Rape Me 8.5/10
- "'teen spirit"-esque guitar, and the song you'll probably be singing the most. One of the first 'vana songs I heard and I have never become tired of it
Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle 9.5/10
- One of my favourite 'vana, and all time, songs. Starts with great bass and quiet guitar slides and burts into great drive guitar and back into bass n' slides with great lyrics. Underrated classic
- Definitely Kurt's best song, vocally, and an excellent acoustic song sat perfectly at the middle of the album.
Very Ape 7/10
- Probably the weakest on the album, but by no means bad, and some very good grungy guitar
Milk It 8.5/10
- Like 'Rape Me', quiet verse, and a badass chorus. Definitely NOT (what some have called) a filler
Pennyroyal Tea 9.5/10
- My reason for buying the album. A terrific song, and definitely my favourite song on the album, guitar-wise. Always has been and always will be recognised as a grunge classic
Radio Friendly Unit Shifter 8/10
- Great song. Downtuned, wired vocals, grungy as hell, and really expresses Nirvana's much approved non-commercial side
- Seriously good guitar, does what 'Unit Shifter' does but better, and more upbeat
All Apologies 9/10
- Kurt's 'sorry' to the world, some time before he shot himself in '94.
Really good lyrics, and a great song to end a fantastic album to end an unforegettable career. Nirvana will never be a thing of the past
20 years already? The Nirvana revenue machine rolls on, this time with a ridiculously overweight reimagining of the final, tortured studio record. It can't be much longer until they issue an official bootleg box set, but, who knows?
It is still everything the album was when it came out - a sullen reproach of "Nevermind", and a perversely competent, angry rock record ; at a 20 year remove, you can disentangle from the darker edges of the time, the identikit Nirvana-lite clones that became suddenly, inexplicably famous, and the kneejerk reaction of the band to make something other than Neveremind II : Grunge Boogaloo, and hear a solid, well-produced, and powerful record. The biggest regret of this record is that Cobain was clearly talented, and had a lot more to say that was cut short abruptly.
Of the extra material, of which there is legion, there is the always puerile "MV", the Grohl-sung "Marigold", and "Sappy" and "I Hate Myself And I Want To Die" - the latter two are excellent songs that suffered simply by being scattered onto various artist compilations.
CD1 is a remastered version of the album, the 'hidden' track, three alternate mixes from 1993-94, and new 2013 mixes of the four extra songs : CD2 repeats the whole album in a barely different 2013 mix, and 11 demos (many instrumental). In total there are four versions of "Penny Royaltea" and "All Apologies". Neither a bad song, but not worth four versions, and only the most hardened will notice the differences between the original CD mix, the Steve Albini vinyl mix, and the 2013 remix. The "2013 Mix" version of the album seems to be barely different from the original 1993 mix : a little louder, and clearer, perhaps, but in every other way, identical that memory can tell. Pointless, then.
CD3 contains the whole of the previously unreleased full 1993 MTV show, remastered in blistering quality, and with 7 unheard performances. This is also on a DVD alongside several TV performances of the same era, and the video for "Heart Shaped Box". All of it is packaged inside a sumptiuous, one might even say, obscenely overwrought box - which isn't even heart shaped! In all, this is something like five hours of Nirvana overload with a weighty book and reverently printed tome. Perhaps being there was no replacement for the cold warmth of nostalgia, of experience-by-proxy, but it wasn't all that at the time, nor was seeing a dispassionate Cobain unhappily trudge through a tour, give near-desolate interviews, and / or the frantic and difficult week-by-week updates in the inky pages of the paper which simply were difficult to watch, powerless, at a remove. But the sheen of shrink wrapped repackaged nostalgia, the huge attendant package this has, cannot do anything but cheapen slightly the legacy ; you could quip over my dead body but that is frankly, exactly what is happening. It is an exhaustive release, but one that perhaps, if you can overlook the excess and gloss, and bury into the music, rewards itself. There is also a 2CD version of just the two audio CD's, which did not show on Amazon until the week of release. Oh well. The money will roll right in.