In one sense, it’s hard to believe 30 years have passed since this Aberdeen trio broke open, unleashing the thunder of a tiny Northwest scene on hibernating rock fans. Yet it’s also hard to believe it’s only been thirty years. Kurt Cobain’s 1994 suicide slammed the door on a grunge movement that had barely had the chance to grab hold. Presented in vinyl and CD/DVD formats, the material here, save for the watershed original album, consists of after-the-fact, well-recorded live tracks (70 ‘officially’ unreleased), all taken from the same period. While the band leans heavily into their earlier material, the similar arrangements and setlists leave not that much to distinguish one show from the next. And absolutely no insights into Nevermind’s origins. And the deluxe 12” booklet, full of color photos, contains not a word on the subject. Really? No one wanted that gig, writing about one of the most successful albums ever? Not one writer, surviving band member or friend wanted to explore the yin/yang mix of Cobain’s vulnerability and ferociousness? There are no demos here, outtakes, anything, even those that were included in the 20th Anniversary edition. Maybe they burned up in the catastrophic fire that occurred when Universal stored their music archives in the back of a theme park. Or more than likely, just like in that moment of infamy, no one was really minding the store, and the lucrative Christmas season just snuck up on them. Or maybe this set is intended as an homage to the original grunge movement itself. You know – zero fucks.
Review by Jeff McCord