Nirvana’s Most Honest Work Gets the Deluxe Treatment

NirvanaCourtesy UMe


Nirvana
In Utero 20th Anniversary Edition
UMe

In Utero deluxe

Nirvana’s third and final studio album, recorded in the wake of the band’s startling rise to the top of the commercial heap, reflected Kurt Cobain’s deep ambivalence about mainstream success. Recruiting iconoclastic producer Steve Albini to shore up their punk cred, the trio turned in a noticeably harsher, more demanding work than Nevermind, the band’s chart-busting breakthrough, confronting casual listeners with tracks like “Radio Friendly Unit Shifter” and “Rape Me.” But there’s still no denying that Cobain had a strong pop sensibility (perhaps to his chagrin). However brusque the production and jagged the arrangement, “Heart Shaped Box” remains a darn catchy tune.

Various configurations of this edition offer additional goodies to savor. While different mixes of the same song may appeal to hardcore fans only, the B-sides are a real plus, notably “Marigold,” the first composition by drummer Dave Grohl (who went on to launch Foo Fighters), and Cobain’s regrettably prophetic “I Hate Myself and Want to Die”—and the live tracks seethe with tortured energy.

In any case, the original 12 songs of the album, a stirring, nonstop eruption of frayed nerves, remain required listening. In Utero may not have been Nirvana’s most listenable work, but it was probably their most honest. A pity it had to be their last.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.