Nirvana - In Utero

If you were a music-dork kid in 1993, the kind who read music-magazine articles about albums that wouldn’t come out for months, you were basically expecting Nirvana, one of the most popular bands in the world, to release a Wolf Eyes record. If you believed the magazines, which I absolutely did, then Kurt Cobain, so sick of the surprise fame that had been dropped into his lap two years earlier, was about to react to it by mangling ears everywhere, by making a record so sickening and abrasive that his own label was refusing to release it. There were all sorts of stories about mixdowns and single-choices and songwriting level, ideas that I didn’t understand, but they basically amounted to this: Cobain was going to make damn god and sure that he’d never have to set foot in the MTV Beach House. He’d hired Steve Albini, a glowering and vaguely terrifying figure, to produce the album. (I really only knew of him because of PJ Harvey’s Rid Of Me, which was the loudest and most damaging music I’d ever heard at that point.) He’d refused to let his label hear any of it. The business people were panicking. If this was all hype, then it was masterfully executed hype, since In Utero ended up as the first album I ever bought on its release date.

History has shown that it wasn’t hype; there was real tension among the band and its handlers and Albini about the album, which ended up going through a few different mixes and which had a few different people’s fingerprints on it by the end. Still, I can’t imagine there was ever a point when DGC was going to scrap the album. Nirvana wasn’t U2 levels of big in 1993, and even Pearl Jam had come to eclipse their popularity, but their world-shattering stardom was a very real thing. Nevermind had come out of nowhere, captured the popular imagination, and resulted in an unprecedented major-label signing spree. For a while there, it felt like every time Cobain mentioned a favorite band’s name in an interview — something he did often — that same band would get a major-label contract a week later, regardless of marketability. The Melvins had a major deal. So did Unsane. So did Flipper, whose frontman had died five years earlier. It was nuts. Nirvana was a big deal; their songs were inescapable, their public stunts were the stuff of immediate legend (the Novoselic VMA bass-toss!), and bad approximations of Cobain’s haircut ruined a few million yearbook photos. The idea of a Nevermind follow-up was a high-pressure situation commercially. And the pressure was even higher artistically, since Cobain was the type who felt that he had to encapsulate the entire scene that birthed him, to stay true to underground ideals that barely exist anymore, now that he suddenly had this huge platform.

Amazingly, he succeeded. In Utero was, and is, one hell of a rock record, and I’d say I like it more than either of Nirvana’s other two studio albums. Albini’s production job maybe wasn’t the noise apocalypse that the press had led me to expect, but it was raw and thrilling. Its fuzz-roars and feedback-peals sounded wild and unencumbered without being self-consciously alienating. And even though Albini didn’t like the mixing job, it’s exactly what the album needed. Dave Grohl, a truly thunderous drummer, has never sounded heavier than he did on this album — the “Scentless Apprentice” intro alone, my god. Cobain’s voice was so strained and scraped and powerful, the sort of thing that would’ve worked amazingly in any context. And Albini had the right idea by recording them all in a room together and using minimal overdubs; it allowed them to sound like an actual band, like an old-school Cream-style power-trio. Even the most punishing tracks have their hooks, and whoever sequenced the album (Cobain, I guess?) had a perfect grasp of dynamics, dropping quietly shattering songs like “Dumb” among all the fuzz-bombs. The album spawned hit singles and sold a shitload of copies, so it did its thing commercially. And it brought the whole Midwestern/Northwestern scream-rock aesthetic to kids’ ears pretty much unvarnished, doing nearly as much to tweak listening habits as Nevermind had. Within a few months of its release, I was riding my bike to the record store so I could spend my lawn-mowing money on Amphetamine Reptile compilations. That probably wouldn’t have happened without In Utero.

Years later, In Utero is still held up as the iconic example of the audience-alienating “one for me” album, the one where a musician goes fully insular in the face of looming (or, in Cobain’s case, already-existing) pop stardom. In Cobain’s reported record-label battles, the album became, more or less, my generation’s Apocalypse Now, with Albini’s snowy Minnesota recording studio serving the same middle-of-nowhere function as Coppola’s Philippines jungle set. And if you want to imagine In Utero as an album about unhappy fame, there’s plenty of evidence there. The album’s opening line — “Teenage angst has paid off well / Now I’m bored and old” — is one for the ages. Another famous one, on the album’s catchiest song, almost matches it for sneer-factor: “I wish I was like you / Easily amused.” The slightly-tweaked “Smells Like Teen Spirit” riff on “Rape Me” is an obvious provocation, as is that song’s title. There’s a song called “Radio Friendly Unit Shifter,” and the song’s tone makes it clear that the title describes a bad thing.

But listening to it today, having lived a little, In Utero now strikes a different chord with me. It’s a tense, freaked-out new-fatherhood record — you know, like Yeezus. The album’s Wal-Mart-censored art was all anatomical fetus-based imagery. “Pennyroyal Tea” was named after a Victorian-era homemade abortion cocktail. There’s a line about Cobain’s own father — “I tried hard to have a father, but instead I had a dad” — that directly reflects the whole holy shit my upbringing was terrible thought-pattern that occurs to almost every new father. There are references to babies and childhood all over the place. Cobain once said in an interview that this stuff was all a coincidence, that they didn’t have anything to do with his own new fatherhood. And as a 14-year-old, I was perfectly happy to accept these words at face value. Now, it’s like: Come on. Obviously this shit was dominating his thoughts, the same way it dominates the thoughts of everyone who has kids.

And Cobain was certainly smart enough to know he wasn’t about to be a great father. For one thing, he was a famous man with a famous wife, and famous peoples’ kids don’t exactly have a sterling record of health. And when he looked in the mirror, he saw a drug addict with crippling stomach issues, someone who owned a bunch of guns and harbored suicidal feelings, someone who was married to a crazy person. It’s one thing to have a kid and wonder if you can hold your shit together. It’s quite another to have your kid and know full well that you absolutely cannot hold your shit together, no way. That’s what I hear when I hear In Utero now: Someone coming into the clear and indisputable realization that he was in way over his head, and that it was going to have disastrous consequences for himself and for everyone who he loved. Way more than the production choices or the passive-aggressive fame-talk, that’s what animates this album: The primal terror of the shitty self-doomed father. That makes me love the album more, but it kind of makes me hate it, too.

In the comments section, go ahead and offer your own take on In Utero. What, if anything, did the album mean to you at the time? If you were old enough to be thinking about this kind of thing, how did it meet your expectations after Nevermind? How has it held up to you? How has its meaning changed? What memories do you associate with it? Do you listen to it more or less than Bleach and Nevermind?

Tags:  
Comments (65)
  1. Great article, Tom! (Though, I’ll let yet another Yeezus reference slide…)

    In Utero is by far my favorite Nirvana album. I spent a good part last year listening and digesting it anew. The element that stick out to me the most is the drum sound Albini captures here, the way the snare sort of reverberates off the empty walls… I’ve never heard anything like it.

    I love how natural this album feels and sounds. I think Kurt once said that this is an album that HE would buy at a record store and want to listen to. From “Serve the Servants” to “Milk It” (my favorite Nirvana track ever) to “Dumb”, the songwriting here is on another level, and there are very few album closers has good as “All Apologies”.

    In my opinion, In Utero – for all it’s angst, flaws, and beauty – is one of the greatest albums ever created, and it rightfully serves (the servants) as Cobain’s closing statement.

    • If you’ve not already done so, check out the genuine Albini mix and not the original release recordings.It has a rawness that very few people are able to capture.

      • Honestly I’ve checked out both and have to say that the Scott Litt mixes for the singles work best. Albini did a grand job with the rest of the record, but his mixes on the singles just don’t measure up. Nirvana agreed too.

    • my best friend’s aunt makes $62 hourly on the laptop. She has been without a job for 10 months but last month her pay was $20860 just working on the laptop for a few hours. Read more on this site B­aa­y­9­3.com

  2. People think youre being snobby when you say, “In Utero is better than Nevermind.” But its true. Especially if you pay attention to microphone placement and recording techniques. The drums sound fantastic and the guitar has plenty of room to make noise unlike the compressed radio-friendly Nevermind.

    • Sure, but the feelings the two create in my head and my gut when I listen to them is completely different, and Nevermind is more enjoyable (for me).

  3. In Utero is my favorite Nirvana album, though I love them all, but I find “Rape Me” very difficult to listen to nowadays. I almost always skip that one.

  4. Great article.

    In Utero was such a polarizing release for me. My head was still pounding from the B-side Incesticide album, so I was ready for whatever Nirvana was about to throw at me. Like mentioned, this is a truly abrasive album to the point where you can almost see Kurts bleeding ulcers as he wailed through your speakers. There was so much weight in these tracks. I mean, Tourettes would sear my brain as it peeled paint off my college apartment walls. Nevermind became such a distant memory the first moment I pushed play. I remember when Rolling Stones review finally came out and I soaked in every word written. I remember saying to a buddy of mine, Wow, they went back to Bleach for this one…ballsy!” I was also so happy Rape Me made it on the album because up to that point, it was a song they only played live, I think.
    There’s so much ‘breaking glass’ and backhanded regret within In Utero. He’s so tired and in so much pain, physically as much as emotionally. I remember seeing him in interviews just sitting there, staring at the ground, and showing zero emotion. His eyes were vacant. You could just tell the end was near, and I think we were all ready for it too. ’93-94 was an unsettling time for alternative music, too….Layne Stayly OD’d, that dude from Mother Love Bone, too, Guns and Roses was breaking (or broke up) so you knew the ride was coming to an end, we just didn’t know how or when. It became, essentially, the beginning of the end for Kurt after its release. Bleach began to solidify itself as the true first chapter of a book that In Utero made end the same way it all began.

    Man, I miss that coward.

  5. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  6. Great article. Makes me want to go back and listen to it.

  7. I remember this: Prior to the album’s release, Geffen set up a 1-800 number you could call to hear a snippet of “Heart-Shaped Box” (maybe the first 45 seconds or something). The equivalent, I guess, of the YouTube teasers bands post today. And I (along with several friends) called that number like 30 times a day for a week just to immerse ourselves in that tiny bit of music.

  8. I can’t honestly say I like In Utero better than Nevermind, but I can’t honestly say I’ve given it the time and attention I’ve given Nevermind either. I do love the album, maybe I just need a few more years of honest listening. Then again, I’m not ashamed of liking Nevermind that much so I’m not worried about it. I know it’s kind of the “hip” thing to go against the grain there these days, but whatever.

    I came to Nirvana very late in the game. I hadn’t heard much of them outside of Smells Like Teen Spirit until a few years after Kurt’s death. What I do remember about hearing In Utero for the first time was that I was disturbed by it. The sound, the lyrics, etc. I remember shaking my head in disgust with the line “I wish I could eat your cancer when you turn black.” And I remember loving “Rape Me” but feeling like that meant I was a little more twisted than I wanted to admit. As I got older, those abrasive qualities took a new meaning, and realizing Kurt’s intentions in the whole history of things made me respect it a lot more. These days, I can listen to the record and see it for the stunning punch that it truly was and I’m reminded of Kid A. Which, if that comparison stands up, I may indeed end up liking In Utero more than Nevermind someday.

    • I noticed everyone that claims to like Nevermind more is getting downvoted. Go figure.

      • I’m surprised that In Utero seems to be the go to choice here. It is my favorite Nirvana album, but when I bring this up, I’m usually called a contrarian. So I’m surprised to see you gte downvoted.

        But seriously, listen to In Utero again, give it another, it’s an album flooding with intensity in the bets way possible.

        • Oh yeah, I definitely need to listen to it more. I said as much above. I’m guessing my downvoters only read the first sentence and damned me to hell.

      • People who downvote you KidChair are puerile, especially since your dissent is well measured and well versed. Let the haters hate. Regardless, both In Utero and Nevermind pack an equally galloping punch. I find that sonically, In Utero is like a razorblade and Nevermind is like a razorblade in a candy apple. Perhaps that’s a really strange analogy, but that’s how I view them. One is incredibly dark without the refreshment of Butch Vig’s power-rock production and the other is a floor level trip to the abyss.
        Both records succeed and for different reasons, much like OK Computer and Kid A. In that respect, think both Nevermind and In Utero are equally as good and brilliant.

  9. Love this! The part about the mixes that everyone still gets wrong (“And even though Albini didn’t like the mixing job”) is that the original release, the one we’ve been listening to this whole time is mixed by Albini with the exception of “Heart Shaped Box” and ‘All Apologies”. Those two were mixed by Scott Litt (who recently had produced REM’s Automatic For The People).

    Albini explains all of this and more when was interviewed a few weeks ago on the Kreative Kontrol podcast and it’s amazing – http://vishkhanna.com/2013/08/16/ep-24-steve-albini/

  10. EVERYTHING IS YEEZUS

  11. i won’t argue that in utero is a more difficult listen today knowing cobain would commit suicide a few months later, but that doesn’t “kind of make me hate it.” if anything was to be gained from kurt’s loss, it adds an extra layer of psychology to this record. it’s unfortunate to think that some people might add value to an album in the wake of the shocking loss of someone, but as it stands, this record was already a great fucking piece of art; albeit a much more important but less accessible piece of art than nevermind.

    and speaking of art, the music video for heart-shaped box remains one of the most shocking things i’ve ever seen: the imagery in that video was a total revelation to me as a 13 year old.

  12. i stopped reading at “Yeezus”.

    you really have to put an end to the referencing of that album…it has nothing to do with In Utero

  13. One of the only true masterpieces I happened to love right when it was released, at an age where I did not know a lot about music, and I now rank very very very high even after having listened to a whole bunch of records.

  14. Great article and holy shit do I feel old. I remember now that I too bought this album the day it was released, the only time I’ve done that. My friends and I were so completely blown away by all that was Nirvana at the time and I remember instantly liking it much more than Nevermind (still do). It’s been years since I listened to it, but I’m definitely going to find my copy and give it a listen soon. I’m sure there’s a lot that my 13 year old self missed when I first listened to it back then.

  15. This is my favorite album of theirs but for what its worth, the ’92 compilation Insecticide is a better snapshot of their actual sound and Aneurysm is perhaps their best song ever recorded.

  16. I was always more of a Nevermind guy. I sat down and listened to In Utero after reading this, and my opinion hasn’t changed. Unplugged in NY will always be my top album by Nirvana in terms of timeless listenability though. In my experience, heavy distortion and noise do not age well for matured ears.

  17. i remember when albini was tapped to produce the album. everyone was like “uh oh, so long nevermind”. everyone thought they were going to go for the throat.

    they did, but it wasn’t a big black album, which was what everyone also thought was going to happen.

  18. Was never really much of a Nirvana guy I have to admit, I always gravitated to Alice in Chains in terms of the “Big 4″ from that era but Nevermind was and is still my fav Nirvana record when I do think about the band…. tho this was a great follow-up album.

  19. Life changing album for me. Discovering this early in high school really pushed me in an alternative direction and away from radio rock. Probably responsible for me discovering and loving the late 80′s early 90′s alt bands like My Bloody Valentine, the Pixies, Sonic Youth, the Meat Puppets, the Breeders, Hum, Pavement, Sunny Day Real Estate, Jesus Lizard, Dinosaur Jr., Modest Mouse, and Guided by Voices. Falling in love with Nevermind in jr. high made look up the other “Seattle grunge bands”. In Utero made me realize that Nirvana didn’t really belong to that group.

  20. Happy memories of walking to buy this tape 20 years ago today. Thanks for posting this. You reminded me of a lot of things that used to be important the me that I’ve forgotten about. Downloading the album now and I’m excited to listen to it tonight.

  21. Rape Me and Dumb are among my all time favorite Nirvana tracks. Cobain’s writing is so honest and this band just, rocks so fucking hard. i love Bleach a lot. whenever i’m feeling anxious or angry i just turn on School, Blew or Love Buzz. i wont lie, i spend most of my time with Live At Reading. i can never get over how young Grohl was at the time and Novoselic’s loose bass strings are my boyfriend. so yeah, i’d say i’m a Nirvana fan. i love the early stuff, i love it all. (also, if you haven’t indulged in Azerrad’s Come As You Are: The Story Of Nirvana, you’ll fall even harder.)

  22. I still maintain that Scentless Apprentice is the best Big Black song ever.

  23. Someone had sent me an advance of “Nevermind” and I made sure I told all my cool friends about it so I could beat the media to the punch. Of course I never realized how big Nirvana was going to get. So by the time “In Utero” came out, I was kind of burned-out on them and I was sick of seeing Kurt Loder ramble about Cobain and Courtney on MTV every hour.
    So I was pleasantly surprised by how edgy and solid the album was. “Scentless Apprentice” quickly became one of my favorite angry songs to listen to. “Pennyroyal Tea” was probably the most “Nevermind”-type song and I loved it also. The whole album just sounded damn good. Albini and Scott Litt did a great job. At the time most of the people I knew who were into music had moved on and only cared about Pearl Jam and all the Nirvana clones like Bush. Nirvana had kind of become the band no one liked anymore. And that made them even cooler.
    I remember looking on the Billboard charts after the album had been out for a while and seeing it sold only 2 million copies and Bush had sold 6 million of “Sixteen Stone”. It didn’t really sell huge until Cobain’s death. How pathetic. People didn’t know sh*t about music then either. Looking back, it’s evident that Nirvana were way better than really any other band at that time(except maybe Soundgarden). Every release, and especially “In Utero” is beyond brilliant.

    • Uhm… Bush’s Sixteen Stone wasn’t released in the US until late 94′ early 95′, like a year or more after In Utero came out. I know because I bought Sixteen Stone when it came out, and sold it back to the record store within a year, while I still have the copy of In Utero I bought 19 years later. I remember I bought the Oasis Album Definitely Maybe in 95′ for two reasons, the video for Live Forever had Kurt in the montage of fallen rock stars near the end, and Liam’s nasally voice reminded me of Kurt Cobain when he strained it near the end. Kurt Cobain was that good.

      The sales of bands that borrowed from Nirvana in one way or another, after his death, were a reflection of just how popular they were, and how much they were missed after he killed himself, not that they were less popular. If you want to properly calculate In Utero’s sales tally, you should include Live Through This in the totals, and Foo Fighters’ first album, cause it was the loss of Kurt Cobain and everyone’s desire to see his music channeled through those bands that gave them breaks to get big/ or bigger.

  24. Even though this is my favorite Nirvana album (and by far, actually), and the distortion and rawness of it had a lot to do with it, my favorite song has always been Heart Shaped Box. I truly think it’s Kurt’s bets songwriting and has some of the most memorable lines of my formative music years. I mean, “I wish I could eat your cancer when you turn black” is just a killer line, so enigmatic, and they pack such passionate rage.
    The whole album is fantastic, and so other of my favorite Nirvana songs are in there (Scentless Apprentice, tourette’s, Serve The Servants), but to me Heart Shaped Box is really just the most overwhelming.

  25. When I was 16 I went to this parking lot outside of a movie theatre in my hometown, where a lot of the stranger teenagers would go to hang out on any given night. A bunch of them were crammed into this van, smoking, drinking and carrying on.

    They invited me in and I instantly recognized a couple of guys that went to my highschool. They failed their classes, sold drugs, and wore torn up jeans and flannel shirts (this is 2003 so it wasn’t exactly chic at this point). I thought these guys were the COOLEST people I had ever met. And for me, just on the cusp of AFI and Rancid and some 90′s alt rock, wearing my first band t-shirt I bought on the internet, I was just praying that someone would approve of what I was doing.

    Anyways, I got into the van and this girl says:

    “Oh! I met these two girls outside that listen to Nirvaaaaana!”

    “Yeah? What’s their favorite album?”

    “Nevermind.”

    “BULLSHIT! IN UTERO! They’re not coming in the van.”

    Things changed for me after that.

  26. Great songs on this album and I love it very much, but two things have always bothered me about it (and I mean from day one, not in hindsight).

    First, Courtney Love. She’s there, and it bugged me. Always has, always will.

    Second, I never understood Kurt’s apparent NEED to go against everything he had done before, and everything that came to him because of it. Don’t get me wrong, I understand his hate for the fame game and all the grossness that comes with it. But even before they were done with all the Nevermind hype you could see how he was changing. Obviously, dude had some problems he was dealing with that were bigger than he could handle. I understand that part of it, too. In the end it’s what lead him to create some of the truly great music on this album, I suppose. But for me it was also the beginning of the downward spiral that eventually lead to his suicide. So in that regard I’ve always wished he could have found a way to better channel his anger and frustration.

    That being said, it is a great album. Classic even. And I’ll always love a majority of the tracks. But as I said above, the emotions I get from listening to it are totally different, and I prefer the ones I get from Nevermind. Although I’ve got to say, In Utero is a GREAT album to turn up loud and drive fast to when you’re having a shitty day. Very cathartic.

    Also, file this one away as another of the albums released during the time I worked at Tower Records. I still have a 24×36″ In Utero poster in a tube (with a Pearl Jam Vs. poster).

  27. I was blown away with Nevermind. But by the time In Utero was released, I had discovered Fugazi, and was tired of the “mainstream.” That fall they toured, and I missed my last opportunity to see Nirvana. Around Christmas time I was over at a friend’s house, a friend I thought was pretty cool, and he had In Utero. A few months later we were cutting school, and hanging out at the 7-11 by the local university, and a college kid, that looked pretty cool came walking out wearing an In Utero shirt (I’m guessing he got to see them!). These instances built up in my mind, and ultimately I decided to pick up In Utero via the BMG music service (RIP).

    I remember Cobain’s failed suicide attempt, I believe in Rome. By the time he was successful, I was back into the fall of ’91 Nirvana fervor, and devastated.

    It’s hard for me to compare In Utero to Nevermind, the sound is just too different. I love both albums immensely. Initially, some of the coarser In Utero tracks were difficult, but anchors like Pennyroyal Tea kept the album on repeat. Like most great albums, the more difficult material settled, and in some cases bested the easier material. There were countless lyrical moments on both Nevermind and In Utero that jived, and I spent the rest of ’94 obsessed with Nirvana. I remember revisiting Incesticide, and realizing the previously ignored 2nd half was incredible, something I would have never discovered without In Utero.

    With Cobain’s death, our local record store capitalized by stocking countless bootlegs, which was my opportunity to really explore the Nirvana universe (this is pre all the posthumous Nirvana releases). I absolutely love Nevermind, but from all the Nirvana recordings I’ve heard, it’s the least “Nirvana” sounding album to my ears, while In Utero is the most “Nirvana” sounding album. This may vary from other fans, but the thing I feel about Nirvana is that there’s something deeply personal about each listener’s relationship to their music. I’m still, after all these years, very protective of them as a band. And while my interest in them has moved in waves, I still count them as 1 or 3 all time favorite bands, with whom I was absolutely obsessed – which makes being a music fan so worthwhile.

    Based on a lot of the AOR garbage that swallowed the music industry since the mid 90s, showing Cobain’s saviorship failed, it blows me away that 20 years ago this stuff was on the radio.

    And while not a Nirvana or In Utero track, Cobain’s scream at the end of D-7 may be the best scream in all of rock and roll.

    It terrifies me what we lost with Cobain’s death.

  28. I love this album so very much. I owned Nevermind and when this came out my younger brother bought it. I used to borrow it so much we decided to swap. Best decision I ever made – apart maybe from choosing to buy 10 over a remix album of Top 40 songs (I was 13 at the time, after all.)

    I loved the rawness as a teenager – ever since I’ve preferred rawer albums, whether it was plugged in or not. For me, it’s the best Nirvana album. I will now listen to Milk It about 12 times in a row and remember sharing a bedroom with Farmer in 1993.

  29. This was a shocking album to hear in the 7th grade. At the time, I didn’t really know what to make of it, other than that it was telling me the world was way more weird and horrible than I had imagined. Now, I tend to think of the album as being about a guy trying to get his moral bearings, but failing. To me, these lyrics from “Radio Friendly Unit Shifter” are at the heart of the whole thing:

    Hate, hate your enemies
    Save, save your friends
    Find, find your place
    Speak, speak the truth

    These are good values. He’s trying to convince himself to follow them. But he can’t. He basically just keeps on collapsing into being a self-hating mess (“What is wrong with me?”). What do we get out of it? Whatever we get out of any tragedy, I guess. And unlike Yeezus, there’s no “Bound 2″ to wink and take the edge off at the end.

  30. How many great albums go unheard by the general population? This one broke through. It remains in the public consciousness 20 years later. There shall continue to be great rock bands. Thank you, NIRVANA.

  31. I was about 15 when it came out and I was a music nerd that read all the magazines. I don’t remember knowing exactly what to expect to tell you the truth. I remember listening to it and loving it for what it was. I adored each song in its own right but remember noticing the tension and strain in the actual compilation of songs. It’s a complicated album as a cohesive whole. It’s been a few years since I’ve put it on from go to woe so I’m going to go ahead and do that…

  32. Fear of parenthood and abject revulsion at the physicality of childbirth permeate this album like cocaine permeates Sticky Fingers. It’s on the album cover, in the video above, and all over the lyric sheet. That’s what made it both compelling and unnerving upon release, and sad and exhausting six months later…

  33. I was 14 when In Utero was released. I was too young to fully embrace Nevermind. In Utero was probably the single most important album to be released when I was a teenager and it just changed my life forever. I bought a guitar because of it, the first song I ever learned on it was ‘Pennyroyal Tea’. It just opened a whole new musical horizon to me. It made me listen to so much music that, paradoxically, I have not listened to it that much over the past 15 years. I think I even lost my original CD and it did not occur to me until very recently. Last Summer, I grabbed a vinyl copy – probably a pirate version considering the quite cheap digitization of the cover artwork and the weird pink vinyl -, I put it on the stereo and, well, it was there in all its glorious mess. That’s an incredible album. It might not be as important as Nevermind from a historical perspective but from my own point of view, that’s just an emotional roller coaster. Favorite track: ‘Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle’.

  34. I dunno about the fatherhood connection, to me it always read like an anxious, mangled suicide note (look at the lyrics to “All Apologies”). It definitely was their masterpiece, and that isn’t disputable. Everything clicked, for one reason or another.

  35. In Utero was the first Nirvana album I listened to. I think I was 14 (2005). Having listened to Smells Like Teen Spirit and being quite blown away by it, I was looking for more (didn’t have an internet connection that was good enough to download ANYTHING) and my father just happened to have In Utero.
    I listened to it. I expected Smells Like Teen Spirit. I was sorely dissapointed. I think it took me more than a year to grow to like it and as the years went on it became my favorite.

    Funnily enough, Nevermind is probably my LEAST favorite Nirvana album today.

  36. Funny. Billboard has an ‘In Utero’ turns 20 on the same page with ‘Huey Lewis and the News – Sports’ (which is NOT a bad album) turns 30. Amazing how much popular music changed in those ten short years.

  37. Just for the record – the ENTIRE original release are Albini mixes except “Heart Shaped Box” and “All Apologies.” The version of “Scentless Apprentice” on the original record is his etc…

    It’s the mastering that he didn’t like

  38. If you like any of the other bands that Kurt Cobain name dropped in interviews, than you will like “In Utero” far more than “Nevermind.” I didn’t even like “Nevermind” all that much, it was “In Utero” and the MTV Unplugged special that made Nirvana then and now, my favorite band. “Incesticide” is great, too, and most of the B sides. And yes, Cobain arranged the track listing. Novolselic is quoted as saying Cobain spent as much time puzzling over it as they did recording the album. And the result is perfect, because that album plays like a story. You gotta hear all the parts.

    Check yourself on the “married to a crazy person” thing though, that’s kinda gross. If anyone was verifiably crazy, I’d say it was the guy who shot himself in the head.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post, reply to, or rate a comment.

%s1 / %s2