In the December 14 issue of Kerrang! Magazine they had a list of the 100 Best Singles of all time as voted
for by the readers. Nirvana were #1 on the chart with Smells Like Teen Spirit. They also appeared on
spot #28 with Come As You Are, #32 with Heart-Shaped Box and #42 with Lithium. The Foo
Fighters also appeared twice on the list (with Monkey Wrench at #26 and Everlong at #39). A
big thanks to CR for this story. In other chart news, MTV2 recently compiled a Top 100 videos of 2002. The
Top 5 was as follows: 5) Foo Fighters - All My Life. 4) Nirvana - You Know You're Right. 3) Tenacious D -
Tribute. 2) Weezer - Keep Fishin' 1) Queens of the Stone Age - No One Knows. Remarkably, Dave Grohl appears
in FOUR out of these five videos! Thanks to WD. On a different MTV2 Rock Countdown, Nirvana's You Know
You're Right video was #16 for 2002.
With the end of 2002 approaching quickly I thought it was time to take a look at the events of this year
and make a summary of everything that's happened in the Nirvana community. It's been an interesting year for
Nirvana fans, to say the least. With the first official album release in six years, a Nirvana best-of saw
the light of day in October. It features the last song the band ever recorded, You Know You're Right.
2002 was also the year where a controversial book, offering a selection of Kurt Cobain's private journals,
got published. Those are just small examples of the many events happening though. The following goes over
what I think are the most important Nirvana-related events in 2002:
January: The year started slowly for Nirvana fans, still trying to digest December 2001's shocking statements from Krist and Dave on one side, and Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain's mother Wendy O' Connor on the other. Among other things she stated that she was "disgusted at the behaviour of Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl". And, Krist and Dave were "sick of Courtney [Love] trying to paste herself into Nirvana's legacy". At the time the parties were still involved in a bitter legal dispute that would get settled shortly before the case was scheduled to go to court.
In January 2002, Eyes Adrift (Krist Novoselic's new band) surfaced and went on their first US tour.
February: Not much happened in February. Rumors of a Kurt Cobain 'Journals' book started to appear - most notably in the form of a Page Six mention in The New York Post. Later it was reported that Riverhead Books had gotten (read: paid a shitload of cash for) the rights to publish the book.
March: March was also fairly quiet and only saw the VHS/DVD release of the controversial movie Highway. The movie, initially entitled A Leonard Cohen Afterworld, involved a scene from the April 10 vigil for Kurt Cobain. Obviously, the actors and film crew weren't present at the real vigil, so it had to be re-created. Of course. This event was documented in early NFC Newsletters. It resulted in an interesting scene for the film where the stars (Jared Leto and Selma Blair) are trying to hide from some bad guys chasing them. The otherwise horrible movie was released on video on March 26 in the US.
April: This month was more eventful but unfortunately filled with tragedy, as it marked the definitive end of Seattle rockers Alice in Chains. On April 5 (exactly 8 years after Cobain's death), their frontman Layne Staley passed away.
Also in April, Courtney Love was asked by Krist and Dave's team of lawyers to undergo psychiatrical evaluation. The judge in the case dismissed the motion. As usual MTV, MTV2, VH-1, MuchMusic and others aired various Nirvana and Kurt Cobain specials this month to mark the anniversary of Kurt Cobain's suicide in April 1994.
May: One event from this month overshadows everything else. Around May 10, a person from the LiveNIRVANA discussion board posted clips of what turned out to be the elusive studio version of Nirvana's fabled You Know You're Right. The song was unreleased at the time and the only thing most people had heard of it was a few seconds.
The Seattle Weekly published a lengthy story about the Kurt Cobain 'Journals' book in their December 25-31 issue:
" 'Why in the hell do journalists insist on coming up with a second rate freudian evaluation on my lyrics
when 90% of the time they've transcribed the lyrics incorrectly?' rails Kurt Cobain in Kurt Cobain's Journals.
The answer is obvious: Because even an FBI audio sleuth would have trouble figuring out what the hell he's
bellowing on those songs, and because his lyrics absolutely demand psychological interpretation. He wrote
cunningly encoded autobiographical statements in intentionally ambiguous and fragmentary lyrics, mumbled them,
buried them in artful noise, then complained when critics got it wrong. Only now, with the publication of the
journals (and the help of Charles Cross's biography, Heavier Than Heaven, which won the Timothy White Book
Award last week), can we fathom his mind and tease out the multiple meanings of some of those shadowy,
ever-shifting, multivalent lyrics." Read the full story here,
courtesy of Tim Appelo and The Seattle Weekly. Thanks to Caren for the link.
As noted above, the Kurt Cobain biography Heavier Than Heaven recently won the Timothy White Book Award for 'Outstanding Musical Biography' as part of the 35th Annual ASCAP Deems Taylor Awards: "The awards are presented annually by the American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers to honor outstanding print, broadcast and new media coverage of music. The ceremonies were held in New York in December at Lincoln Center, and hosted by ASCAP President and Chairman Marilyn Bergman. A newly established ASCAP Deems Taylor honor, 'The Timothy White Award for Outstanding Musical Biography' cites Charles R. Cross for his book, Heavier than Heaven: A Biography of Kurt Cobain, published by Hyperion. The award honors the memory of Billboard Magazine editor Timothy White, who passed away earlier this year. Mr. White was himself a former Deems Taylor recipient, and was the writer of acclaimed biographies of Bob Marley, Brian Wilson and James Taylor." Thanks to Hyperion Publicity for this one.
The Winston-Salem Journal also published a really good story about this year's Nirvana-related releases: "Cobain is gone, dead at 27, eight years in the grave. He continues to make big money for those he left behind, courtesy of a largely unnecessary new greatest-hits album, Nirvana, and the publishing of his private diaries as Kurt Cobain: Journals. Millions of dollars will again be made by exploiting the name of Cobain." - "The argument behind the greatest-hits disc is twofold. First, it can act as a one-stop learning experience for a new generation of music fans who did not experience Nirvana firsthand. This might wash if not for the fact that all of Nirvana's albums are in print, and the majority of the songs offered on the disc remain omnipresent on mainstream rock radio and, in a twist that would not sit well with Cobain, classic-rock radio." Read the piece here, courtesy of Ed Bumgardner and The Winston-Salem Journal. Thanks to Fardeen for the link.
In the January 2003 issue of the British Mojo magazine there is a 7-page article about Nirvana. The article begins by documenting Nirvana's performances in Seattle on October 31 1991 and December 3 1989. It also goes over the problem with Nirvana's drummers and includes fresh interviews with people such as Mark Arm (Mudhoney frontman), Dan Peters (who briefly drummed for Nirvana), Charles Cross and Jonathan Poneman of Sub Pop Records. Thanks to Bob and James Moore for the news. Note that the January 2003 issues of Circus Magazine and Total Guitar also feature Nirvana specials. The Total Guitar issue features an article on the making of Nirvana and 7 posters of Kurt Cobain. Thanks to Luke.
"Nirvana's 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' was #1 in the 2FM (Irish Radio Station) 'Fab 50' countdown." Thanks to Adam. More chart news: Nirvana has again managed to get the top spot on Belgian's Most famous rock station's program 'Studio Brussel tijdloze Top 100' (timeless Top 100). It's a program that airs every year around christmas time. Listeners send in their lists a couple of months before and the list is compiled from that." Nirvana topped the chart with 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' and also appeared on spot #43 with 'Lithium'. Thanks to Jack for passing this news on.
On January 8th at 10:30 PM, The Swedish TV show 'Musikbyrån' on SVT2 will air a Nirvana special. Thanks to C-J Andersson and David for that one.
"Saturday night on the French TV channel France 2, there will be a
Nirvana special in the show 'Traffic Musique'. The girl who did the French translation
of the Cobain Journals will be there. It also says that there will be an excerpt of a Nirvana
concert, but I don't know which one." Thanks to Ben for passing this news on.
MTV2 in the UK will be having a Kurt and Courtney weekend on December 21 and 22. On Dec. 21 they are airing the Bare Witness special first at 2 PM and then again at 7.30 PM. 8 PM follows the "No Apologies: Nirvana's MTV History" feature. Two Courtney Love shows (highlights of her MTV2 US VJ'ing at 9 PM and Courtney's video picks at 10.30 PM) close the night. "Bare Witness" is repeated the day after at 4.30 PM & 8.30 PM, and "No Apologies: Nirvana's MTV History" airs 7.30 PM. The two Courtney Love shows also air this day (Dec. 22), again at 9 PM and 10.30 PM. Thanks to Mat and Nick.
"Nevermind took the #1 spot in Q Magazine's reader poll of the '100 Greatest Albums Ever' (Jan 2003), edging out Radiohead. In Utero hit #11. There's also a review of the Journals that gives it five stars but doesn't say anything substantive at all." Thanks to Randall.
At VH-1's recent "Big in 2002" awards, Nirvana were nominated in two categories: for the album "Nirvana" (Best-Of) and for the biggest court case (with Courtney Love vs. Nirvana). They didn't win either of them.
This year's NFC Christmas Present is now available. Every year I put up some rarities or uncommon
songs for download (for a limited period) over christmas. This year marks the 6th NFC Christmas Present,
although last year it was a bit different, as it came in the form of a new permanent sound gallery. The
present consists of the complete demo that Nirvana recorded in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on January 22, 1993.
Only one song from the session (Gallons of Rubbing Alcohol Flow Through The Strip) has been mastered
and released officially. The whole thing turned up on the 'net a few months ago and includes two unknown songs
as well as a rare cover of Seasons in the Sun. As a little bonus I have also put up a rare live version
of the B-side Curmudgeon. Check it all out right here.
Heavy-metal legends METALLICA have been announced for this year's Roskilde Festival in Denmark. There are rumors of the band going on a 6-week European tour next summer and they will quite possibly headline other festivals as well. Currently the band is in the studio working on their 8th album. Earlier, Iron Maiden were named as the first headliner for Roskilde so it's shaping up to be quite a festival, with two of heavy metal's finest and most influential bands on the bill. Thanks to the Roskilde newsletter for the story.
The winner of this year's dotmusic People Choice Award in their Interactive Music Awards was once
again the official Westlife website. It is believed that more than 3,000 music websites competeted
for the award and now the Top 1000 sites have been listed on the dotmusic site. As it turns out, The
Internet Nirvana Fan Club landed on spot #11 in the Top 1000! We thereby got more votes than the
official sites for artists such as Duran Duran, George Michael, Pete Townshend, Sting, Coldplay
and thousands of others. Thanks to everyone who took the time to vote for NFC! You can view the
full Top 1000 here.
I recently did a mini-interview with Bob Ludwig who mastered the new "NIRVANA" (Best-Of) album. Mr. Ludwig is the president of Gateway Mastering Studios in Portland, a company that has over the past 10 years mastered albums for an endless list of high profile artists and record labels. Some of the clients they have worked with include David Bowie, Mariah Carey, Eric Clapton, The Cure, Bob Dylan, R.E.M., Bruce Springsteen and many many others. Bob Ludwig also mastered Nirvana's In Utero album and most recently the Best-Of compilation.
"Mastering is the technical and creative act of balancing, equalizing and enhancing, analog or digital tapes so that the finished product will have attained the maximum musicality and competitiveness in the open market. A mastering studio must be both extremely creative and technically perfect, since the master that is made there will be the template for thousands of compact discs, DVDs, cassettes and records produced for commercial release." (quote: Gateway Mastering Studios). Mastering is thus the final step (after the album is mixed) before the replication process begins.
NFC: Can you describe the process you went through when mastering the 'NIRVANA' album?
Bob Ludwig: All of the original master tapes were gathered up and sent to our studios in Portland, Maine. I put the tapes up on the machine and decided how they should sound if they were being mastered for the first time in 2002. After hearing inside my head what I thought they should sound like, I got all the right gear and turned all the right knobs so it did sound as I heard it inside. Then I got the old CDs and listened to how they were originally done and I was very satisfied with my result. I sent reference CDs to the parties involved for approval and just a few very minor suggestions were made, which I did, and that next version was approved.
The masters I had [to work with] were mostly analog and they were from the mix rooms, NOT the previously mastered sounds.
NFC: About 9 years have passed since you first mastered Nirvana's 'In Utero' album in 1993. Now you have mastered some of the songs from that album again. What are some of the most important techniques and technical options you have available now that you didn't have back then (some nine years ago) ?
Bob Ludwig: The biggest invention is the digital domain compressor which has, in my opinion, created a situation where human beings are now listening to music more highly compressed than at any other time in history. This competition to make everything so loud is a shame. Thank goodness these did not exist when the Beatles were making their music. It tires the ear out and it would make one not want to have so many repeated listenings.
Fortunately, in this case, the raw energy of Nirvana's music makes use of this gear highly appropriate. It is fine for Nirvana to be loud, it isn't fine for everything else to be loud. While I had my great room 9 years ago, I did not have my present monitors, the Eggleston Works "Ivy" speakers. They help hear everything on the tapes!
NFC: Wasn't it strange for you to essentially master the same songs twice and, sort of, correct your own mistakes and/or omissions?
Bob Ludwig: No, there were no mistakes or omissions. All the original masterings were approved by the group and/or producers and met their expectations.
The new versions are done with 2002 in mind and the level of competition that now exists between all commercial CDs that did not exist even 9 years ago as much. In some cases, after living with the final recordings the group, in hind-sight, had some different visions for the songs which the new mastering addresses.
NFC: Do YOU think it was even necessary to master these songs again? [Note: What I meant to address here was the fact that the songs from Nevermind, In Utero and Unplugged were already available in high quality, and had already been professionally mastered, prior to their respective releases in the early 90's]
Bob Ludwig: Of course it was necessary to master the songs again. The purpose of mastering a record is to make it a unified whole as much as possible and creating a playback that does not require the listener to change the playback volume from song to song. If even the original albums were suddenly in a new sequence, some mastering would need to be done to unify the sound once more. Everyone who was responsible for signing off on the new project seemed very excited about the new detail and energy.
NFC: Do you think this album would have improved significantly, had it been released on DVD Audio instead? After all, the capacity of a DVD is far greater than that of a regular music CD, and allows for Advanced Resolution.
Bob Ludwig: It would be improved in my opinion. I mastered it all in high resolution digital in case it does get put out as a DVD-Audio or SACD [Super Audio CD] someday. The 24 bit resolution, or the SACD would yield more true soundstage and reverberation and less low level distortion. The higher sampling rates will yield a smoother top end with the anti-aliasing filters moved up an octave.
NFC: Finally, how do you value The Internet in relation to your work?
Bob Ludwig: Portland, Maine was one of the 2 beta sites for cable modems, I think, because there is a lot of fiber optic cable installed here. We were a beta site in one of the beta cities, so we have had cable modems as long as anyone in the world. We have a special extra high speed business cable modem which has a direct secure connection with the IP as contrasted with the local "hub" that most consumers use and is not so secure. We create and host our own web site and we have our own FTP site as well. While we still do a lot of work from analog sources (which I generally prefer) we work with a lot of PCM digital [sources] that is sent to us over our FTP site. We recently did an entire major album that was completely sent to us over the FTP site and all references were sent out on the secure FTP site. [Note: FTP (File Transfer Protocol) enable users to send (upload) and receive (download) data].
The Onion did an interview with Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam where they, among other things, talk
about the new Kurt Cobain 'Journals' book. When asked "What do you think of the
idea of their publication in general, and specifically the bits that slam Pearl Jam?", Vedder
answered: "We were the corporate representative of Seattle, or something like that?
I think that with whatever information he had at the time, however he and some of his peers were viewing
our group at the time, I think we've probably made any of those arguments or criticisms a moot point at
this stage of the game. I probably could relate to suspicion coming out of his brain at that time. It was
a weird time, and there was a lot of opportunism going on around the record industry, and what they could
suck out of Seattle. We were all very sensitive to that stuff at the time, and if it manifested itself for
him being directed at us, I kind of understand it."
Eddie Vedder further comments in general on the publication of this book: "I've gotten to spend time with Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl, and I've listened to their bands since, but as far as the Nirvana records, I've had a hard time even listening to them, because it still reminds me of a very traumatic episode. I'm still not comfortable with the reality of how that all went down. I hate to even comment on it, because Krist and Dave and his other close friends probably have more to say about it. But just me personally, I've just had a hard time with it. It always comes back to just, 'What a shame.' At the same time, I've only felt in the past few years that there's no blame in those kind of situations. I used to kind of blame someone for not being able to get through that—I'm talking about the addiction part—but I've had a few experiences recently where you don't blame the person anymore. It could happen to anybody." Courtesy of The Onion. Thanks to Jon for the link. Read the full Eddie Vedder interview here.
Kaz sent in this info: "We will be holding a Limited Edition Photographs auction on the 12th December which contains lots of Nirvana photographs. Please see lots 19-47 or click here for further information and images. Commission bids can be placed online now here and the auction will culminate with a live event at Proud Camden on the 12th December at 6.30pm GMT." Most of the photos were shot by Steve Gullick at the Reading '91 festival. Thanks to Kaz and Cooper Owen auctions.
This Sunday (December 8th) is 'Nirvana Day' on MuchMusic in Canada (thanks to Randy for the info):