Friday, June 1, 2012

Nirvana In Utero

In Utero (180 Gram Vinyl)

#439 on the Top 500 Albums ever according to Rolling Stone Magazine.

In Utero is the third and final studio album by the American grunge band Nirvana, released on September 13, 1993, on DGC Records. Nirvana intended the record to diverge significantly from the polished production of its previous album, Nevermind (1991). To capture a more abrasive and natural sound, the group hired producer Steve Albini to record In Utero during a two-week period in February 1993 at Pachyderm Studio in Cannon Falls, Minnesota. The music was recorded quickly with few studio embellishments, and the song lyrics and album packaging incorporated medical imagery that conveyed frontman Kurt Cobain's outlook on his publicized personal life and his band's newfound fame.

Soon after recording was completed, rumors circulated in the press that DGC might not release the album in its original state, as the record label felt that the result was not commercially viable. Although Nirvana publicly denied the statements, the group was not fully satisfied with the sound Albini had captured. Albini declined to alter the album further, and ultimately the band hired Scott Litt to make minor changes to the album's sound and remix the singles "Heart-Shaped Box" and "All Apologies".

Upon release, In Utero entered the Billboard 200 chart at number one and received critical acclaim as a drastic departure from Nevermind. The record has been certified five times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America, and has sold 3.58 million copies in the United States alone.

In a Melody Maker interview published in July 1992, Cobain told the English journalist Everett True he was interested in recording with Jack Endino (who had produced the group's 1989 debut album Bleach) and Steve Albini (former frontman of the noise rock band Big Black and producer for various indie releases). Cobain said he would then choose the best material from the sessions for inclusion on the group's next album. In October 1992, Nirvana recorded several songs (mainly as instrumentals) during a demo session with Endino in Seattle; many of these songs would later be re-recorded for In Utero. Endino recalled that the band did not ask him to produce its next record, but noted that the band members constantly debated working with Albini. The group recorded another set of demos while on tour in Brazil in January 1993. One of the recordings from this session, the long improvisational track "Gallons of Rubbing Alcohol Flow Through the Strip", was included as a hidden track on non-US copies of In Utero.

Nirvana ultimately chose Albini to record its third album. Albini had a reputation as a principled and opinionated individual in the American independent music scene. While there was speculation that the band chose Albini to record the album due to his underground credentials, Cobain told Request magazine in 1993, "For the most part I wanted to work with him because he happened to produce two of my favorite records, which were Surfer Rosa [by the Pixies] and Pod [by The Breeders]." Inspired by those albums, Cobain wanted to utilize Albini's technique of capturing the natural ambiance of a room via the usage and placement of several microphones, something previous Nirvana producers had been averse to trying. Months before the band had even approached Albini about the recording, rumors circulated that he was slated to record the album. Albini sent a disclaimer to the British music press denying involvement, only to get a call from Nirvana's management a few days later about the project. Although he considered Nirvana to be "R.E.M. with a fuzzbox" and "an unremarkable version of the Seattle sound", Albini told Nirvana biographer Michael Azerrad he accepted because he felt sorry for the band members, whom he perceived to be "the same sort of people as all the small-fry bands I deal with", at the mercy of their record company. Before the start of recording sessions, the band sent Albini a tape of the demos it had made in Brazil. In return, Albini sent Cobain a copy of the PJ Harvey album Rid of Me to give him an idea of what the studio where they would record at sounded like.

All songs written by Kurt Cobain except where noted.

1. "Serve the Servants" – 3:36
2. "Scentless Apprentice" (Cobain, Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic) – 3:48
3. "Heart-Shaped Box" – 4:41
4. "Rape Me" – 2:50
5. "Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle" – 4:09
6. "Dumb" – 2:32
7. "Very Ape" – 1:56
8. "Milk It" – 3:55
9. "Pennyroyal Tea" – 3:37
10. "Radio Friendly Unit Shifter" – 4:51
11. "tourette's" – 1:35
12. "All Apologies" – 3:51

Bonus track

13. "Gallons of Rubbing Alcohol Flow Through the Strip" (Cobain, Grohl, Novoselic) – 7:28

This song is included on non-US pressings of the album.


* Kurt Cobain – guitar, lead vocals, art direction, design, photography
* Dave Grohl – drums
* Krist Novoselic – bass guitar

Additional personnel

* Steve Albini – producer, engineer
* Robert Fisher – art direction, design, photography
* Alex Grey – illustrations
* Adam Kasper – second engineer
* Michael Lavine – photography
* Scott Litt – mixing
* Bob Ludwig – audio mastering
* Karen Mason – photography
* Charles Peterson – photography
* Kera Schaley – cello on "All Apologies" and "Dumb"
* Neil Wallace – photography
* Bob Weston – technician

1 comment:

Tony Van Helsing said...

Well researched piece, even though I am bot a fan of Nirvana.