On the eve of the 20th Anniversary of NIRVANA‘s landmark NEVERMIND, the folks over at SPIN have put together NEWERMIND: A TRIBUTE TO NIRVANA. Offered as a FREE DOWNLOAD to visitors to the SPIN website and Facebook page, this collection re-imagines the 1991 classic to results that are beautiful, bizaare, and blasphemous.
With frequently covered-by-NIRVANA (and later collaborators) MEAT PUPPETS kicking off the record with a folky, indie rock take on Smells Like Teen Spirit, it’s easy to see the context in which this strange reversal of appreciation can be held. In many ways the vocals of the ‘Brothers Meat.’ echo the late Kurt Cobain in their crackly, slightly off-key delivery. The end result is something charming and curious.
BUTCH WALKER AND THE BLACK WIDOWS use In Bloom to exemplify taking a track and making it your own. The band reworks the familiar into a song that sounds lived-in by the new performers. If you didn’t know better, it would be easy to assume that Walker and Co. wrote this one themselves. On the flipside, Melbourne’s MIDNIGHT JUGGERNAUTS provide the perfect example of how not to pay tribute to a legendary artist. Their electro-version of Come as You Are is a heaping pile of offensive and unlistenable trash. The vocals are so grating that I really wanted to hop a plane to ‘Oz and punch someone in the face. I’m fairly confident that if Cobain hadn’t already pulled the trigger, the Midnight Juggernauts might’ve put another bullet in the chamber.
THE VASELINES found themselves frequently covered by NIRVANA two decades ago, and here they return the favor on Lithium, by delivering a performance that sounds like they’re on a heavy dose of the drug. Possibly intentional, this is a track I wanted to love but couldn’t get into – much like AMANDA PALMER’s take on Polly that sounds like she’s trying just a little too hard to put her own dark spin onto an already dark song.
Along the way into the album’s latter half, you’ve got a couple real standouts like FOXY SHAZAM’s Queen-esque take on Drain You and TELEKINESIS’ youthful take version of On A Plain, but the rest is just bland and not very well-done at all.
Bottom Line: Not as much a “tribute” as a musical oddity. But hey, at least no one is charging money for this, right?