Gary Flockhart - Music Matters

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It’s hard to believe it’s 20 years since the release of Nirvana’s seminal Nevermind, a record that undoubtedly changed the course of music history.

On 24 September, the milestone will be marked with much coverage. Documentaries will air on TV, BBC Six Music will pay homage by broadcasting interviews with Nirvana’s Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic and album producer Butch Vig, and music magazines will be packed with all-manner of Nirvana and grunge-themed nostalgia.

And rightly so, for Nevermind was so much more than just one of the biggest-selling records of its era. It was the one that revolutionised rock, blowing away the cobwebs left by the hair metal of the Eighties, and opening the door to the mainstream for other bands in the alternative scene.

Had he been alive today, it’s hard to know what Kurt Cobain would make of the continued fuss about Nevermind.

After all, he didn’t even like the album, feeling it was too slick, too commercial, and at odds with the punk scene he came up from.

Cobain also had no idea just how dramatically his life would change after the album’s release.

Led by the popularity of the MTV-friendly single Smells Like Teen Spirit, Nevermind’s release transformed the singer into the reluctant voice of a generation. As everyone knows, two years later, age 27 and unable to cope with the weight of that fame and fortune, he put a bullet in his head.

Oh well, whatever, nevermind [as the song goes]... as well as the timely 20th anniversary tributes coming our way, Nirvana’s record company are to milk that cash-cow with the release of a deluxe box-set edition of Nevermind, yours for the bargain price of £75!

Yes, there’s an irony there that won’t escape anyone familiar with the album’s iconic sleeve of the naked floating baby chasing a dollar bill.

To paraphrase Nirvana’s most famous song, it smells like greed.