Nirvana, "Bleach" (20th-Anniversary Deluxe Edition)

90 Billboard Rating

"This is off our first record, most people don't own it," Kurt Cobain whispered before strumming the opening chords of "About a Girl" during Nirvana's 1993 "MTV Unplugged" performance. As Cobain had guessed, most audience members probably weren't aware that the solemn track was from the band's 1989 debut, "Bleach." Unlike Nirvana's more polished, alternative-leaning breakthrough, 1991's "Nevermind," the sludgy backwoods material on "Bleach" reveals the humble beginnings of a band that would lead a new musical movement and earn itself a place in rock'n'roll history. Twenty years after its original release on Sub Pop, "Bleach" is freshened up with remastered versions of unusually heavy songs like the haunting "Negative Creep," where Cobain howls about alienation and being stoned, and the pounding "Floyd the Barber," where the main subject of the eerie track is a man being strapped down and tortured by characters from "The Andy Griffith Show." The set also includes a feedback-heavy live set from a 1990 performance at the Pine Street Theatre in Portland, Ore., where Nirvana tightly crushes through songs from "Bleach" and early rarities like "Spank Thru" and "Sappy."-Mitchell Peters

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