Welcome to a new weekly post that I will call Metal Mondays, where I will rank the albums of a certain artist in the metal and hard rock genre from worst to best. As I am a list and ranking person, I am unable to have a simple discussion on what a band’s good albums are, as well as their not-so-good ones. I must rank them in some sort of order, or I will not be able to participate! This also makes for a fun debate, don’t you think?
NOTE: I will rank full length STUDIO ALBUMS only. There will be no live records, greatest hits, or EP’s here.
After a lengthy hiatus, we will study the albums of Nirvana. This Washington state group is often credited with bringing alternative music to the mainstream, combining punk music with melody and pop. Furthermore, Nirvana is considered to be the kingpins of the grunge scene that also produced Seattle area outfits, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, and Soundgarden.
Nirvana was founded by vocalist/guitarist/songwriter Kurt Cobain and bassist Krist Novoselic. After a series of drummers, the band’s classic line-up was formed with the initiation of Dave Grohl.
Up front, I must say that back in the day, I loathed any of the grunge bands, considering them to be murderers of my beloved hair metal. However, after decades of (mostly) maturing, I must admit that rock music needed something to kick the genre in the behind, as hard rock had become cheesy and watered down (Remember Danger Danger, anyone?). I have grown to admit that I enjoy Nirvana and their counterparts.
I also must break free from my standard of only ranking studio albums. While Nirvana only had three full length LP’s, they released an EP with plenty of unreleased material, as well as a wonderful live Unplugged record that contained several dynamic cover songs. Please forgive me!
While not a proper follow up to the 1991 smash breakthrough, Nevermind, this collection of songs include many tracks that would become fan favorite deep cuts, some of which were part of the group’s, Hormoaning EP, as well as staples in the band’s live set.
Best Song: Sliver
Best Deep Cut: Sliver
The final release during Kurt Cobain’s lifetime, In Utero had the unfair and daunting task of following up Nevermind. This record contains hits, All Apologies, Heart-Shaped Box, and Pennyroyal Tea, as well as fan favorites, Rape Me and Dumb.
Best Song: Heart-Shaped Box
Best Deep Cut: Rape Me
OK, I normally wouldn’t put a live or unplugged record in my rankings, however, with the addition of several amazing cover songs, I view this to be a separate Nirvana album on its own. The band eschewed the unplugged tradition of simply regurgitating its big hits acoustically, as mega songs Smells Like Teen Spirit and Lithium are nowhere to be found. Rather, the group performed deeper cuts On a Plain, Something in the Way, and About a Girl among others. Meanwhile the cover versions of David Bowie’s The Man Who Sold the World, the Meat Puppet’s Lake of Fire, and the brilliant rendition of Leadbelly’s Where Did You Sleep Last Night became new Nirvana songs to most fans.
Best Song: Where Did You Sleep Last Night
Best Deep Cut: Where Did You Sleep Last Night
Nirvana’s studio debut flew under the radar until the band’s smash Nevermind boosted its sales a couple of years later. The album features cult hits Blew, Floyd the Barber, and About a Girl, the latter gaining in popularity by its inclusion on the unplugged record. Bleach is a more than respectable debut.
Best Song: About a Girl
Best Deep Cut: Blew
The band’s gigantic breakthrough transformed an entire genre that sent those who enjoyed mainstream success in the 80’s into small clubs and dive bars. The hits are plentiful with Smells Like Teen Spirit, Come as You Are, Lithium, and Polly. Meanwhile, the album is strong from start to finish, with deeper tracks more than holding up. Give a listen to On a Plain, Breed, Drain You, Territorial Pissings, and the amazing Lounge Act.
Best Song: Lounge Act
Best Deep Cut: Lounge Act