The Skinny: 1991 is purportedly “the year punk broke,” which makes this record an historical document at this point. Nevermind was #1 with a vengeance, is now certified diamond for sales of over 10 million units, and features five completely bankable singles. As a collector, I look for recordings in the format for which they were originally intended. I believe fervently that this particular recording should be experienced in all its original 16 bit, 44.1 kHz over-sampled glory.
Sounds like: Pixies, Black Flag, Descendants, Soundgarden, Black Sabbath, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Husker Du, Sonic Youth, Circle Jerks, Replacements, Soul Asylum, Meat Puppets
Deeper thoughts: I remember when “Smells Like Teen Spirit” began to catch fire. I thought to myself, “Is this a thing?” Nobody was quite sure. But Cobain definitely exposed all the creepy little thoughts in my head, and he was clearly listening to the same records I was. “Breed” is a direct descendant of the Descendants. “Lithium” takes the soft/loud of the Pixies to another level, with a lyric charmingly on the verge of reassurance. But it’s the album tracks that didn’t get crammed up our collective asses that make this record special. “Territorial Pissings” sounds like it’s riding side saddle on the engine block of Black Flag’s tour bus, while “Drain You” delivers Dave Grohl’s most punishing sledgehammer. Tracks like “Lounge Act” (along with songs like Soul Asylum’s “Somebody to Shove”) helped to mainstream the notion of punk rock. Grohl and Krist Novoselic relentlessly propel the manic “Stay Away,” while Kurt bellows the suburban generation’s rage. “On a Plain” coaxes the spirit of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers out of the walls of Sound City Studios in Van Nuys, CA (dig the backing vocal). And thank God for “Something in the Way” to get me back on my meds.
The Sonics: A mass produced disc from the 90s and an early example of the “loudness wars.” The heavily-compressed sound was as much the sensation as the material. Punchy, brutal lows. Frantic, swirling mids. Exploding highs. A truly thrilling and overwhelming recording. This disc renders it adequately in the glorious, aforementioned 16 bit, 44.1 kHz over-sampled resolution. I might just try and collect as many of these things as possible — God knows they pressed a shit load of them. Oh well, whatever…