Review

Nirvana's 'In Utero' At 20: Classic Track-By-Track Review

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To celebrate its 20th anniversary on Sept. 14, here's our track-by-track look back at Nirvana's classic third studio album, 1993's "In Utero."

Nirvana, and especially frontman Kurt Cobain, was hardly the first rock 'n' roll band to hate being loved. Happy as the trio undoubtably was over the game-changing success of 1991's "Nevermind," Cobain, bassist Krist Novoselic and drummer Dave Grohl were, like so many of their predecessors, a bit freaked out by the level of adoration (including a wholly unexpected mainstream pop crossover) and by media attention that flipped from fawning to endlessly intrusive, especially into Cobain's drug use and his marriage to Courtney Love. So when Nirvana went in to make 1993's "In Utero" it wanted to strip away some of the polish and re-embrace its abrasive punk rock roots.

After a brief courtship with producer Jack Endino, the group entered Minnesota's isolated Pachyderm Studio in the middle of winter (February 1993) to spend a tight 13 days recording and mixing with noted minimalist Steve Albini.

The sessions were productive; the drama came afterwards, when DGC Records and Gold Mountain, Nirvana's management, were critical of the results, leading to some acrimonious media back-and-forth between all parties and the group's ultimate decision to have Scott Litt remix the two songs that would be released as singles -- "Heart-Shaped Box" and "All Apologies" -- back in Seattle.

All ended relatively well; while some reviewers noted that "In Utero" was no "Nevermind" (which was kind of the idea), the 12-song set -- recently expanded for a lavish 20th anniversary edition -- was a hit.

Nirvana's 'In Utero' Set For Extensive Reissue

Released Sept. 14, "In Utero" debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album and has been certified five-times platinum. It's also a fixture on all sorts of best album lists and, 20 years on, hardly sounds dated as it chronicles Nirvana finding its footing in a world it never expected to inhabit.

- Album Review
4.5 STARS