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|Official Release Date||Nov 03, 2009|
track listing1. Blew2. Floyd the Barber3. About a Girl4. School5. Love Buzz6. Paper Cuts7. Negative Creep8. Scoff9. Swap Meet10. Mr. Moustache11. Sifting12. Big Cheese13. Downer14. Intro [live]15. School [live]16. Floyd the Barber [live]17. Dive [live]18. Love Buzz [live]19. Spank Thru [live]20. Molly's Lips [live]21. Sappy [live]22. Scoff [live]23. About a Girl [live]24. Been a Son [live]25. Blew [live]
This is one case where the legend really precedes the record itself. Cut for about 600 dollars in Jack Endino's studio over just a matter of days, this captures Nirvana at a formative stage, still indebted to the murk that became known as grunge, yet not quite finding their voice as songwriters. Which isn't to say that they were devoid of original material, since even at this stage Kurt Cobain illustrated signs of his considerable songcraft, particularly on the minor-key ballad "About a Girl" and the dense churn of "Blew." A few songs come close to that level, but that's more a triumph of sound than structure, as "Negative Creep" and "School" get by on attitude and churn, while the cover of "Love Buzz" winds up being one of the highlights because this gives a true menace to their sound, thanks to its menacing melody. The rest of it sinks into the sludge, as the group itself winds up succumbing to grinding sub-metallic riffing that has little power, due to lack of riffs and lack of a good drummer. Bleach is more than a historical curiosity since it does have its share of great songs, but it isn't a lost classic -- it's a debut from a band that shows potential but haven't yet achieved it. [Sub Pop's 20th anniversary edition of Bleach offers a remastered version of the proper album -- good, but there's only so much sonic improvement that can be done for an album that was recorded for a few hundred dollars. The real news here is the addition of a complete Portland, OR, concert from February 9, 1990, an 11-song set that runs through the highlights of Bleach and adds "Dive" and "Been a Son," the Vaselines cover "Molly's Lips," and an early stab at "Sappy." That Nirvana sound forceful isn't a surprise, but they also sound surprisingly tight -- a little bit looser than they would sound within a year, but they're clearly marshaling their forces, gaining strength and skill. This concert may not be as epochal as the group's 1992 headlining appearance at Reading -- a CD/DVD set of which was released the same day as the Bleach anniversary edition -- but this is a terrific document of Nirvana's early days, proving they were a tremendous band before Dave Grohl came aboard.