AKA IN UTERO IS STILL INTERESTING TO ME
This video is a fascinating glimpse into what could have been and what might be coming. Until the original Steve Albini / Nirvana mixes are mastered properly, to suit the whole album listening experience and released (hopefully/unfortunately as part of an In Utero reissue) it’s a hard one to call. And maybe there’s no real point.
As much as I love Albini’s production, Litt’s remixes are slight by the standard of the time. Recall, this is an era of music where Andy Wallace would reassemble tracked recordings almost as much as he mixed them; sometimes to good effect (Sonic Youth’s Dirty is a treasure trove of hidden hooks and overdubs and Roots by Sepultura is brutally effective) and sometimes to a lesser extent (Nirvana’s Nevermind sounds like shrill cotton candy in parts and bad 80s in others):
Sonic Youth’s Dirty (Full Album):
Roots by Sepultura (Full Album):
Nevermind (Full Album):
So a bit of compression and effect tweaking on Litt’s part is hardly the big deal music history makes it out to be. These are not overly significant sonic changes, it’s the clashing ideologies and the sniff of a juicy story that charged all this.
Yet there really is an undeniable sense of something else in the Albini mixes. Again, I’m not sure if this is the idea itself that’s so enchanting: I consider the album one of the peaks of the whole early 90s alt-rock/grunge moment but it could have been even more of a coup had an album that sounded like The Jesus Lizard been delivered to the listening public with the full weight of commercial industry.
But, all in all, it was a raging success for me. Trainspotters may enjoy the trivia 20 years later but how many of us were introduced to Steve Albini and noise-rock and Amrep and analogue via this album and this exact story? I was. This split things open for me. I was a huge teenage Nirvana fan. When the media told me I’d hate In Utero (too rough and wild), and then I didn’t hate it one bit…that made me even more curious.
Nevermind was an album anyone could enjoy.
Some of In Utero was something a few people could agree on, namely those singles.
But I was one of those people that heard the noise and thrash of that album and it signalled something to me. I went out and found all the other people who agreed. And it was endless. There were hundreds of records laying in wait behind In Utero and that catalogue is what the band really sold me, even if the message was slightly compromised along the way.