The Path to an Album Part One

Posted: January 14, 2013 in After In Utero - The Final Year 1993-1994, Bleach and the Sub Pop Era 1987-1990, In Utero 1992-1993

While examining the live sets over the past month, arranging data and seeing how it fell, one noticeable element was how strangely regular the development pattern toward each album was if judged according to the live record. For comparison, here’s when the songs on Bleach first appeared at a live show:

Bleach Development

Ignoring the weird outlier of Swap Meet (it’s unlikely this was its first performance), the span from the time the first track for Bleach appeared live to the last is 27 months. Then again, to be fair, Downer was Sub Pop’s inclusion in 1992 not Kurt Cobain’s, so perhaps we could start in May 1987 with Floyd the Barber as the first song for Bleach; 25 months. Now Nevermind:

Nevermind Development

Nevermind is almost precisely the same, a grand total of 26 months from first song to last to appear in the live record. Finally, In Utero is a little different:

In Utero Development

A total of 33 months between the first live appearance of its first song and the last. The result is three albums, each whipped into shape over the course of two years, one month up to two years, nine months.
Prediction is the art of making oneself look a fool but at least it can act as a guide. In this case, if Nirvana had stuck to the norm, a new album would have been likely around two and a half years after its first song made a live appearance. The problem is, after each of Nirvana’s first two albums, the first songs attempted straight after were explicitly intended for stop-gap recordings and singles — it suggests perhaps You Know You’re Right would be for that same purpose.

On the other hand, as a counter-argument, during the Bleach sessions Nirvana didn’t record any leftovers for singles which is why there was the pressure around whacking songs out in 1989 (Do You Love Me, Dive, Been a Son, Stain). Similarly the Nevermind sessions didn’t yield any B-sides, Nirvana had to reach back and grab Aneurysm from the previous January, then further back to the BBC session that yielded Turnaround, Son of a Gun and Molly’s Lips, and then they ran out forcing them back into the studio to crank out some quick-fire material in April 1992. For In Utero the band, for the first time, deliberately made sure they had enough in reserve they wouldn’t need to come near a studio for a good length of time; February saw them record Sappy, I Hate Myself and I Want to Die, Moist Vagina as full band compositions, then Marigold without Kurt. So, maybe, for the first time, the band wouldn’t have been putting together throw-aways, perhaps the gap to the next album would have been shorter and You Know You’re Right may have had a place in a greater piece of work.

Taking You Know You’re Right as performed in Chicago on October 23, 1993 as the first live rendition of a song for the next Nirvana album, even then the trend would suggest the last song for the album wouldn’t have made it on stage until some point between Nov 1995-Jun 1996. Of course, that last song, in the case of Bleach, Nevermind and In Utero, had only made it on stage one-two months before the release of the related album suggesting an album, at the earliest, in December 1995 to July 1996.

But, of course, the data is flawed…Let’s talk more tomorrow because the pattern is worse not better than the live data would suggest.

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