Yeah I would have never expected Nirvana to turn up on this blog either! I was around for the original explosion of what would later be termed "Grunge" bands from Seattle. Back in the late 80's I used to trade records with a guy from Portland Oregon and when we would send each other packages we would always stick something in that wasn't requested, something new or good that we had come across and thought the other person might like. One package I received from him contained Nirvana's "Bleach" album along with the first couple of Mudhoney singles he said this was a new scene that was coming out of Seattle and maybe I would like these? At the time I was just starting to lose interest in all the Death Metal and brutal hardcore I was listening to at the time and when I put the needle to "Bleach" I was blown away I had never heard anything close to this and I couldn't stop listening to it! Subsequently he furnished me with more records by Tad and Soundgarden but that's another story.
I just recently finished reading the Kurt Cobain Biography "Heavier Than Heaven" I had originally picked it up because there was supposed to be some good stuff about the other bands from the Seattle scene of the time but there wasn't, however what was interesting was that he detailed many studio sessions Nirvana had done right up to Dave Grohl joining the band and the subsequent mass hysteria of "Nevermind" For example I had no idea that there had been 7 songs recorded during The sessions for their debut 7" "Love Buzz" or 5 songs during the session for the 2 B-side tracks for the "Blew " EP. This really piqued my interest as, while like everyone else I fell under the spell of "Nevermind" (an album i can no longer listen to due to over saturation) I still love the era preceding it when Nirvana were less polished and well, a lot heavier & noisier! SO I spent a morning researching and hunting down various tunes and decided that I'd put them up here.
I'm not gonna lie, 90% of this stuff is commercially available, but is spread over many compilations and the infamous "With The Lights Out" Box set, but using both the book and an excellent extremely detailed website called Live Nirvana (Find it HERE
for detailed Information on everything I present here) I managed to source and order all the demos in their correct order and separated them into files. I stated that 90% of this stuff is readily available there is quite a few tracks that I had to do some serious work to try and find which is why I decided to do this post!
I feel going into any kind of History about Nirvana is futile there is no stone left unturned or bone left unpicked about this band so I'm gonna get straight to the links here.I'm also gonna give you a link to the page for each session so you can get the detailed information there if you are curious)
- In 1988 After Nirvana's original drummer Aaron Burckhard left the band they enlisted Dale Crover of the Melvins to fill the drum stool, but whilst he took the position, despite Kurt's pleading he would not leave the Melvins to take the position full time, however he did play on this first demo. 2 of the tracks would subsequently be remixed and appear on the debut album "Bleach" of the remaining 8 tracks 7 have been issued over the "Incesticide" & "With The Lights Out" I have sourced these from there, however the original rawer versions of "Floyd The Barber" & "Paper Cuts" which were remixed for "Bleach" have never been commercially available and the version of "Spank Thru" has also never been released I sourced these from downloads. There is a bit of difference in quality between the released and unreleased tracks but if they were unlistenable as per usual I would not have shared this. (More Info HERE
Love Buzz Sessions/Blew Sessions
- After Sub Pop agreed they would like to release a single by Nirvana they strongly urged the band to record their version of Shocking Blue's "Love Buzz" Kurt Cobain wanted to put 2 originals on the 7" rather than their debut release be a cover version but conceded to Jonathon Poneman of Sub Pop and they entered the studio for several sessions between June and September 1988 and subsequently recorded 11 tracks 3 versions of "Love Buzz" , 2 Versions of "Big Cheese" as well as 6 further originals Here I present 7 of those tracks as the various takes of "Love Buzz" and "Big Cheese" were unavailable so what you get here is "Love Buzz" & "Big Cheese" The former contains the sound collages that were removed for the album version and a different version of "Big Cheese" from the "Bleach" Version. these are both ripped from the original 7" "Blandest" is taken from the "With The Lights Out" Box set "Spank Thru" was sourced from the Sub Pop 200 compilation the other 3 tracks "Mr Moustache" , "Blew" & "Sifting" were sourced from the internet and are NOT the "Bleach" Versions. "Blew" Sessions"
This was the session where they recorded tracks for the B-sides of the "Blew" 12" "Been A Son" & "Stain" appeared on the B-side of the 12" I sourced these from the CDEP but a further 3 tracks were recorded "Even In His Youth" (not the version that turned up on the B-side of the Teen Spirit Single) as well as an early version of "Polly" And "Token Eastern Song" These 3 Appeared on the "With The Lights Out" Box and were sourced from there. More Info on Love Buzz HERE
and Blew HERE
Smart Studio Sessions
- This was the last session to feature Chad Channing on drums before Dan Peters of Mudhoney took the seat briefly for "Sliver" and was then unceremoniously booted from the band for Dave Grohl and subsequent Nirvana super stardom. This session was originally meant to be an attempt at recording the second Nirvana album but did not work out, it's a long story you can read about at the link below. of the 8 songs recorded 6 would be re-recorded for "Nevermind" of the other 2 you get another version of "Sappy" and the Velvet Underground cover "Here She Comes Now" which would appear on a split VU tribute 7" with Melvins. This session was released on the bonus disc of the 20th Anniversarry 2 Disc edition of "Nevermind" I separated it here because this is the last (excluding "Sliver" ) session before Nirvana were propelled to stardom and also I prefer these versions of the later far more polished versions that turned up on Nevermind"
(More Info HERE
Hard To Believe Kiss Covers Comp Session/Sappy Session/Sliver 7"
- I won't go into too much detail as I put these all in one folder due to them being three short sessions. The Kiss covers session was done in Spring 1989 they recorded "Do You Love Me" by kiss as well as 4 takes of "Dive" the final version of "Dive" is the only one completed at this session so here I present you with only these 2 tracks The Kiss cover was sourced from the orioginal compilatioon CD and the demo of "Dive" from the "With The Lights Out" Box Sappy Session - Nirvana excessively dedicated 10 hrs of studio time here to basically record this one song "Sappy" this was taken from the "Sliver Best of the Box" compilation. Lastly we have "Sliver" 7" I have put this in here because at the end of the song "Sliver" on the original 7" had a 40 second phone call to Kurt at the end that was ommited from every other version of the 7" and also because it was the only song recorded at that session and features Dan peters Of Mudhoney on Drums The B-side "Dive" is taken from the Smart Sessions (see below)
Info On Kiss Session HERE
Sappy Session HERE
Sliver Session HERE
- I have put this in here simply because I love Peel Sessions and for some reason, of the 3 sessions only tracks from the 2nd 1990 session have ever been released comercially and it seems ridiculous to me that despite the money to be made that these 3 sessions have never been compiled for an album! There are 3 Sessions, one from 1989 featuring Chad Channing on drums, and one from 1990 and one from 1991 these feature Dave Grohl on drums and were just on the cusp of their breakthrough. I have sourced these from various bootlegs and present the best quality versions available I present them here simply because they remain unreleased in their entirety and there are some great versions of songs that would be recorded for albums and b-sides later. (More Info on all 3 Sessions HERE
There you have it, as I said at the beginning I would never have expected to blog a band as huge as Nirvana became but, I think in the wake of their global mass acceptance people tend to forget that between 1988 & 1990 Nirvana were one of the best new underground guitar bands out there and I can tell you, I was around then, they were really only known and loved by people who followed the underground scene, you didn't see them on music video channels or hear them often on radio and you were lucky if you could even find a T-shirt. I can also state unequivocally that they made some fantastic twisted, noisy and heavy music that was utterly compelling and still is to this day! I remember once after being blown away by "Bleach" that someone sent me a tape of a bootleg 7" called "Beauty & Power" that contained 3 songs from their first demo "Downer" "Hairspray Queen" and "If You Must" (all of which came out years later on "Incesticide") I could not believe how twisted and fucked up these songs even compared to "Bleach" Kurt Cobain's vocals were utterly insane and deranged there's little resemblance between these recordings and the band that later became what they were/are and I urge you to look past that massive fame and give these a chance, especially as instead of being haphazardly thrown onto various compilations with no real love or attention to detail, here they are presented as they should have been, together in their right order (I took the running order for the first demo from a picture of Jack Endino's original BASF cassette of the session which is in your folder here) So go blast these out and try to forget what Teen Spirit smells like!
Love Buzz & Blew Sessions
Smart Studio Session
Kiss Covers/Sappy Sessions & Sliver 7"