Although there are two official Nirvana live albums available, this does not seem to be enough for most fans. In the quest to hear those fabled live performances, the fans turn to illegal bootleg recordings. The original "Outcesticide" series by Blue Moon stand as one of the best collections of Nirvana bootlegs to ever become available.
What most serious Nirvana collectors ask themselves is why Nirvana's record label has not decided to release more than one unplugged album in 1994 and a collection of various performances on a live album in 1996. There is obviously a market for these releases, maybe not in the mainstream market where chart-topping is all that matters, but in the collections of those who truly care about the band. When you see what Pearl Jam have done, releasing recordings of their entire European and American tours in 2000 and 2001, and what The Doors are currently in the stages of doing, releasing every live performance that was ever profesionally recorded by the band, the question of whether this should be a possibility for Nirvana deserves to be brought up.
In the meantime, collectors turn to bootlegs. Nirvana is one of the most heavily bootlegged bands in the world, and the number of shows that are available is ever-increasing. The "Outcesticide" series by the bootleg label Blue Moon is one of the best and most respected series of Nirvana bootlegs ever to become available. It currently consists of five releases, including a nice mixture of live and studio recordings ranging from the very beginning and the very end of the band's existence. The reason why this page was written was that the English music magazine "Record Collector" ran a piece on these series in their 236th issue. The problem with the "Outcesticide" series, and most bootleg releases in general, is the huge amount of mislabels. "Record Collector" did very little to fix any of the mislabels concerning the "Outcesticide" series, only managing to add more confusion to where the recordings on these discs are taken from. Hopefully this page will serve as a better source.
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Outcesticide I - In Memory of Kurt Cobain
1. If You Must 2. Downer 3. Floyd The Barber 4. Paper Cuts 5. Spank Thru 6. Beeswax 7. Pen Cap Chew: The first seven songs on "Outcesticide I - In Memory Of Kurt Cobain" are all taken from the first session Nirvana did with Jack Endino in Reciprocal Studios in Seattle on January 23rd in 1988, with Dale Crover sitting behind the drum kit. "If You Must" and "Pen Cap Chew" are the only unreleased tracks from this session; "Floyd The Barber" and "Paper Cuts" ended up on the first 1989 Sub Pop pressings of the "Bleach" album, while "Downer" was added as the last track on the 1992 Geffen re-release of the album. "Downer" is also available on the 1992 rarieties album "Incesticide," along with "Beeswax," while "Spank Thru" was included on the early Sub Pop compilation LP "Sub Pop 200."
8. Blandest: This song is the only track on the first "Outcesticide" disc taken from the second session with Jack Endino in Reciprocal Studios on June 11th 1988. By then, Chad Channing had taken over as the drummer in the band, and thex recorded three songs during this session, "Love Buzz," "Big Cheese" and "Blandest." "Love Buzz" was released as Nirvana's first single, backed with "Big Cheese," on Sub Pop's "Singles Club" in 1988, leaving "Blandest" unreleased. The version of "Love Buzz" on Bleach was re-recorded at another session.
Initially, "Blandest" was supposed to be the backing track for the "Love Buzz" single. Later, it was supposed to be on the 1992 "Incesticide" rarities album. The story of why the latter never took place is rather humorous; recording tape is expensive, and at the time of this recording session, Nirvana was not the richest band in the world. To save some money, they left the tape with "Blandest" on to be recorded over, after copying the song onto a cassette, which was later stolen. The song re-surfaced after 1992, the version available on this disc comes from that stolen cassette, but the reason why the song did not end up on "Incesticide" was that the band was not in posession of their own song.
9. Polly 10. Misery Loves Company 11. Sappy: None of these songs have ever been considered for release on an official Nirvana album, as they are all acoustic demos done by Kurt during 1987 or 1988. "Misery Loves Company" is the only of these three to include bass and drums, and is also considered by many to be the worst Nirvana song ever. This version of "Polly" is labeled as "Sad," while "Sappy" was the working title for the song that later ended up as a bonus track on the 1993 "No Alternative" compilation album, then known as "Verse Chorus Verse." This is the first known recording of the song, which would be recorded at nearly every studio session until the 1993 "In Utero"-sessions with Steve Albini hauled the definite version of the song.
12. Do You Love Me? 13. Been A Son 14. Junkyard 15. Opinion 16. Dimension Seven: The rest of this first "Outcesticide" disc consists of eleven tracks of various live performances and unreleased studio recordings. They seem to have been picked at random just to fill up the disc, and the quality of the material ranges from very good to bad.
This version of "Do You Love Me?" was recorded live in studio at the Evergreen State College some time in 1990, and is a humorous cover of Kiss' classic track. On the "Outcesticide" cover the track is listed as being recorded in June 1989, which is wrong. The song is available on the 1990 Kiss cover album "Hard To Believe." "Been A Son" is taken from the hard-to-find 1989 "Blew" EP, featuring a cool bass intro. This version of the song was recorded at the "Blew" sessions with Steve Fisk. A different version of the song, recorded at a radio session for Mark Goodier in London, England in November 1991 is available on the 1992 "Incesticide" album.
"Junkyard" is the song more commonly referred to as "Born In A Junkyard," but the true title of the song is actually "Token Eastern Song." This live version of the song is taken from a performance at the Dutchess of York Public House in Leeds, England on October 25th 1989. "Opinion" is presented on this "Outcesticide" disc with the only known recorded version of the song. It is an acoustic solo performance by Kurt Cobain from the KAOS Radio "Boy Meets Girl" show on September 25th 1990. On versions of this broadcast now circulating, parts of the premiere performance of "Lithium" is also present, while it is believed that "Dumb" was also premiered during this show. According to some, up to six songs were played during this show. Kurt claims live on the air that "Opinion" was written while driving in his car on his way to the show earlier in the evening.
"Dimension Seven," more commonly referred to as "D7," is a Greg Sage And The Wipers cover. This song was recorded at a John Peel session at Maide Vaile in London, England in 1990, and was originally released on the hard-to-get 1992 Australian tour-EP "Hormoaning." It was intended for release on the 1992 Wipers tribute album, "10/16 Songs For Greg Sage And The Wipers," but due to copyright issues the band was not allowed to use the recording, and chose "Return Of The Rat" instead. "D7" is also available on the 1992 maxi-single digipak version of the "Lithium" single. The version of this song available on this "Outcesticide" disc is a weird, unfinished mix of the regular version of the song, where the guitar is cut out in the middle of the song Unfortunately, the song is cut in the beginning.
17. Imodium 18. Pay To Play 19. Sappy: Among the odds 'n' sods part of this first "Outcesticide" release are three songs from the Smart Studios sessions the band did with Butch Vig in Wisconsin in April 1990. "Imodium," "Pay To Play" and "Sappy" are early versions of "Breed," "Stay Away" and "Verse Chorus Verse." "Pay To Play" is the only track that has been officially released, on a 1994 Geffen compilation album released a couple of months after Kurt's death. According to a Geffen spokesman, the track had been planned as part of the compilation album long before Kurt's death, and it should not be seen as exploitation of the legacy of the deceased Kurt Cobain's legacy.
This session was supposed to haul the material for Nirvana's second Sub Pop record. The band soon signed to Geffen, and the Smart Studios tracks were left untouched. When the band recorded their 1991 album "Nevermind" with Butch Vig, some of the tracks from this session were re-recorded and released on the album. "Polly" from this session was put on the album as it was, featuring 'drumming' by Chad Channing that was left uncredited on the album. The whole Smart Studios session is available in much better quality on other bootleg releases.
20. Here She Comes Now 21. Where Did You Sleep Last Night? 22. Return Of The Rat 23. Talk To Me: Am extremely cool, plugged-down version of the Velvet Underground cover "Here She Comes Now" is taken from a VPRO Hilversum radio session in The Netherlands on November 25th 1991. This is a song that R.E.M. has also done a cover of, and Nirvana usually did a punk rock version when playing this song.
"Where Did You Sleep Last Night?" is the classic track that rounds up the 1994 "MTV Unplugged In New York" album. It is a cover of a traditional folk song, commonly credited to Huddie Ledbletter, also known as Leadbelly. Available on this "Outcesticide" disc is a demo version of this song that features Mark Lanegan from Screaming Trees on guitar and vocals, Matt Lukin from Mudhoney on drums and Kurt Cobain on second guitar plus quite possibly backing vocals. It was recorded for the Lanegan/Lukin/Cobain side-project The Jury, and when that fell apart it was intended for release on Lanegan's first solo album. It never wound up on the album, unlike "Down In The Dark," another song Kurt played with Mark Lanegan. The two songs were recorded some time in 1990.
"Return Of The Rat" is another cover of Greg Sage And The Wipers, and this is a really cool track. It was recorded in the Laundry Room studios by Barrett Jones in early 1992, and is available on the 1992 tribute album to the Wipers, "10/16 Songs For Greg Sage And The Wipers." Originally, the other Wipers track Nirvana covered, "D7," was intended for the tribute album. Because of copyright issues with BBC over that song, Nirvana simply went into studio and recorded a new song for the album.
To round up this first "Outcesticide" disc is a great song that has yet to surface on a studio recording. "Talk To Me" was recorded at Teatro Verdi in Muggia, Italy on November 16th 1991. It is believed to be one of very few Nirvana tracks written by Dave Grohl, and was only played a few times in Europe during the Nevermind-tour in 1991, mostly during soundchecks.
Additional information: Overall, this is a great collection of Nirvana outtakes. But this disc suffers from the fact that it is very old, and way better versions of most of the songs have been released on other bootlegs. It has been re-released in a re-mastered edition with two rather obscure bonus tracks; Courtney Love and Krist Novoselic's speeches at the vigil for Kurt Cobain in Seattle on April 10th 1994.
Outcesticide II - The Needle And The Damage Done
1. In Bloom 2. Imodium: The second "Outcesticide" release is a true mess. It seems to have been compiled quickly only to include various tracks that were unreleased at the time.
It starts off with "In Bloom" and "Imodium" from the Smart Studios sessions with Butch Vig in April 1990. This version of "In Bloom" features alternate lyrics and a different song structure than the version that ended up on "Nevermind." A video for this song is available on "Sub Pop's Video Network Part I." "Imodium" is an early version of the song "Breed," but the same version of the song, along with more tracks from these sessions, is also available on "Outcesticide I." This is a silly mistake by Blue Moon, although the sound quality is seemingly a tiny bit better there really was no need to put this song on both discs.
3. Help Me 4. Oh, The Guilt: "Help Me" is often referred to as "Help Me, I'm Hungry." Both of these titles are bootleg titles, as this track has never been officially released, and thus the song has no official title. It was recorded at the U4 Club in Vienna, Austria on November 22nd 1989. "Oh, The Guilt" is another great track that has never been released on an album, but this song is available on the hard-to-find Nirvana and Jesus Lizard split single "Puss / Oh, The Guilt." The live version on this disc is taken from a show at the Teatro Verdi in Muggia, Italy on November 16th 1991. This is an excellent show, and "Talk To Me" from the same show is available on "Outcesticide I."
5. Smells Like Teen Spirit 7. It's Closing Soon 8. Heart-Shaped Box 9. Scentless Apprentice: "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was usually played in the same style as on "Nevermind." But sometimes the band decided to mock the song's popularity. This version of the song is taken from a performance at Apoetose Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on January 23rd, and comes with Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers joining in on trumpet.
"Heart-Shaped Box" and "Scentless Apprentice" are also taken from the same concert, one out of two that Nirvana did in Brazil at that time. "Heart-Shaped Box" was still being worked on at this time, and features extremely alternate lyrics, and a totally different song structure. "Scentless Apprentice" also features alternate lyrics, but differs from the version they would record for "In Utero" a couple of months later by the fact that it is not less than nine minutes long. Blue Moon labels it as 'extended experimental feedback version.' It is in fact a very good version of the song where Kurt goes crazy during the solo and harasses the TV cameras filming the concert for Brazilian televison.
During this trip to Brazil in January 1993, Kurt recorded a demo tape with Courtney Love and Patty Schemel from Hole. "It's Closing Soon" is taken from this demo tape. According to Blue Moon the tape was surfaced by Courtney herself, supposedly given to the English Radio One DJ John Peel, whom Nirvana did radio sessions with in 1989, 1990 and 1991. The song is also known as "You'll Never Know Why," and is hardly even a finished song. Hole performed it live during a concert, and the song is included on the Hole bootleg "Ugly Demented World."
6. Pennyroyal Tea 10. Been A Son 11. Something In The Way 12. Negative Creep: A very early live version of "Pennyroyal Tea," with alternate lyrics and a cool solo, is taken from the Cabaret Metro in Chicago, IL on October 12th 1991. This is a fabulous show that is available on the Nirvana bootlegs "Dressed For Success" and "Revolutionary Debris."
The gem on this disc are the songs from the acoustic in-store gig at Let It Be Records in Minneapolis, MN on October 14th 1991. What is believed to be the complete show is available on other released, but I do not believe the complete show had surfaced by the time Blue Moon released this disc. These are once-in-a-lifetime performances of "Been A Son" and "Negative Creep" done acoustically, and "Negative Creep" is especially cool as Kurt goes crazy with his guitar and sings the end of the song with the microphone in his mouth. Truly a must-have for any serious Nirvana fan.
13. Where Did You Sleep last Night?: On September 26th 1991 Kurt got onstage at the Natural Ampitheater in Valencia, CA and performed "Where Did You Sleep Last Night?" with Mudhoney's Mark Arm on vocals. He later joined Mudhoney for a cover of the Fang's "The Money Will Roll Right In." Both of these songs have also been covered by Nirvana.
14. Baba O'Riley 15. The End: During the European tour in the end of 1991, the band performed the classic tracks "Baba O'Riley" and "The End," the first by The Who and the latter by The Doors. The first track is a really nice cover, featuring Dave on vocals and guitar and Kurt behind the drum kit, which they played to start their performance at the Transmusicales Festival in Rennes, France on December 7th 1991. This song was broadcast on French radio along with a cut thirty-minute version of the Nirvana performance.
The cover of "The End" is a source of discussion among Nirvana fans. Blue Moon states 'Slaughtering The Doors in Belgium 1991' on the cover of the disc. The song starts out nicely with Kurt playing the intro and starting to sing the song. Then a dead-drunk Krist takes over on vocals and turns the song into a disaster. Whether this was done on purpose or because Krist simply could not sing better because of his heavy drinking that night is unknown. Nevertheless, this cover was done at Vooruit in Ghent, Belgium on November 23rd 1991 at a great gig where they also played "Curmudgeon," "Talk To Me," "Oh, The Guilt" and "Where Did You Sleep Last Night?" electrically.
16. Lithium 17. Dumb 18. Molly's Lips 19. In His Hands: The version of "Lithium" on this disc is the popular Mix Six from the Smart Studios sessions with Butch Vig in April 1990. "In Bloom" and "Imodium" from the same session is also available on this disc, while other tracks from this session are available on "Outcesticide I." This version of Lithium is slightly different and, in some people's opinion, slightly better than the version that wound up on "Nevermind."
"Dumb "is taken from the Palagacchio in Rome, Italy on February 22nd 1994, the most frequently bootlegged Nirvana show ever. Melora Crager plays cello on this track, like she did on every show on the European part of the "In Utero" tour.
"Molly's Lips" is an extremely cool Vaselines song that Nirvana covered and amazingly enough managed to improve. This is a live version of the song, I am not sure what recording it is taken from. Blue Moon claims the song is from November 1989, but I doubt if this is correct. "In His Hands" is taken from the Off Ramp Cafe in Seattle, WA on November 25th 1990, a great show with a supposedly amazing encore that has yet to surface on any bootlegs.
"In His Hands" is a name given to the song by the bootleggers, it is also known as "In His Room." Information has surfaced giving life to the idea that this song was in fact called "Verse Chorus Verse" until the song also known as "Sappy" got this name for release on the "No Alternative" compilation album in 1993.
20. The Man Who Sold The World 21. Smells Like Teen Spirit: "The Man Who Sold The World" is taken from a gig at The Armory in Salem, OR on December 14th 1993, a great gig played the night after the famous "MTV Live & Loud" show. Lori Goldstein plays cello on this David Bowie cover. Unlike the famous version from "MTV Unplugged In New York," this is an electric version of the song.
To close this disc is a cut televised performance of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" from "The Word" TV Show in London, England on November 8th 1991. Kurt states before starting the song that 'Courtney Love is the best fuck in the world.'
Additional information: This is often considered the worst of all "Outcesticide" releases because the tracks seem picked at random and there is no red line going from beginning to end to give the disc a heart and a soul. The only thing that saves this disc is the fact that most of the tracks were previously unreleased, at least not in as good quality as on this disc.
The last three Outcesticide releases will follow sooner or later.
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