Nirvana In Utero Deluxe Editions at Two Months Distance

Wondered how everyone was feeling about their Nirvana In Utero deluxe and super-deluxe editions now there’s been time for it to soak in?

In the run-up I was pretty contented – some material I’d never heard, a potentially intriguing remix job, the Litt/Albini originals of a few pieces, the one surprise instrumental from a rehearsal, the bonus footage pieces. I’m very much on the glass half-full side of things, especially given I know it was feeding a hole that can never be filled meaning that anything that emerges was, and is, welcomed and appreciated.

At this point…Well, I’d still rate myself satisfied – the remastering was perfectly decent and I see no great reasons for anyone to complain about the slight ‘pumping up’ of the original album, the remix had a few points of intrigue, the bonuses made sense and Live and Loud is still a quality performance – love the long outro…More of this kinda chaos please!

But. On the other hand, I admit the randomness of including certain instrumentals and not others, of including certain early takes and not others…That definitely grates on me. When all the additional material is filler for fanatics hearing that someone somewhere has decided that certain material is ‘even more filler than other filler’ and that I’d definitely not want to hear it…It’s just irksome. I’m trying my best to think of it as the equivalent of the hierarchy of eBay, then second hand and charity shops, then finally bric-a-brac stores and carboot sales – that there are differing levels among pieces someone gets rid of but still…Unless an outtake is unavailable or genuinely wrecked I’ve no idea why one outtake should be deemed of any greater value than another.

Also, the 2013 remix did disappoint – I was hoping to hear far more wrenching changes to a greater number of songs. Instead, a few peaks do stand out but too few to fundamentally alter my listening experience or to distinguish the remix greatly from the original album. I’ve tried it with headphones, I’ve tried it with the original album playing alongside…Ultimately I think one problem may be that an exercise like this being in the hands of music producers/engineers fails to recognise the difference between the aural depth heard by those experts versus what might be distinguishable to an untrained individual who can’t isolate the audio tracks and doesn’t have such sensitive hearing. I was hoping for more. I’d have been more than happy, as an experiment, to hear them drop out backing, chop vocals, restructure songs…Isn’t it funny? I’m happy to consider sacrilege so long as it made for something fresh!

Ultimately there’s a touch of realisation to the whole experience, for me. The reason that there are not many deep cuts or intriguing diversions on the release is simply because that absence is a realistic portrait of what was going on in terms of Nirvana in the 1992-1993 period. Nirvana entered the studio in October 1992 and did barely one day’s work, they managed at most two days playing together as a band in January 1993, then in February they hammered out the album and all additional takes and so forth in, at most, a single week. This wasn’t a band taking time to evolve, develop or experiment with their songs – they were walking in, hammering out takes, then heading home where Cobain might work on something to order the band to do next time they got together. The compilers of the In Utero twentieth anniversary releases had the unenviable task of fleshing out a mildly depressing period of time for Nirvana and I feel they did so subtly (for example, the pieces in the Super-Deluxe book that emphasise the business and product aspects of an album) and accurately (in terms of the overall paucity of revelations or substantially different material.)

It does make me wonder though, whether Courtney Love has plans for the remaining tapes of Cobain demos given there have now been several occasions between 2009 and 2013 for further use to be made of whatever remains in that archive. On the one hand it makes me think that the rift opened way back in the early 2000s has never even reached the point at which she’s involved in any of the anniversary releases. On the other, it still lends me hope that there’s more to be made of material from her side of things – material that isn’t sitting with the label, or with Krist and Dave, or in the bands of Nirvana’s various producers.

That’s what I feel fans really have to look forward to; more Cobain material, a lot less Nirvana releases of real note.


4 thoughts on “Nirvana In Utero Deluxe Editions at Two Months Distance”

  1. I’m slightly disappointed with the Super Deluxe set. The original album remastered and Live and Loud is great. No problems there. The remixes offer little to get excited about. At first when I heard the new solo on Serve the Servants I got really excited. Then the rest of it was kind of a let down. Moving levels…eh. I heard Albini say in a podcast that the remixes “aren’t better. Just different”. That’s totally true. I’ve heard most of the demo/rehearsal stuff before but it’s nice to have them in good quality. Although I hate that the Very Ape Rio demo is without vocals. What the hell? My shitty bootleg version has vocals and it’s one track connecting Very Ape, Gallons and the other improve. The Forgotten Tune…. It’s ok. I don’t know what I was expecting but it’s just all right. I was hoping that Lullby from the Pachyderm sessions and possibly Jam After Dinner would be on there. The Lang sessions after all were during the In Utero tour. Also I was a little annoyed with the version they used on the dvd of Munich show. It looked they pulled it directly off YouTube. Someone on YouTube had a superior version of My Best Friends Girl without the German stuff and without the effects. Shoulda used that one.

    1. An articulate and very fair critique of what’s going on in there…It’s what I was getting at the other week – avoiding arbitrary sounding decisions is crucial to a pleasing box-set.

      Same as you, loved the alt. solo in StS…Then was surprised how little else seemed to have changed.

  2. Back when they announced the release of the super deluxe Nevermind reissue my immediate thoughts were along the lines of ‘please please please let there be an In Utero reissue too’. There was going to be absolutely no doubt that I’d buy the super deluxe boxset AND the vinyl version of this album (promise kept).

    Is it a fantastic boxset? Yeah… kinda. Does it leave me with a nagging doubt that there are more ‘oh, look what we’ve unearthed’ tracks (sorry, rarities) to be drip-fed to us for years to come? Yes. We’re talking about major record labels here. Reissues and nostalgia (not to mention amazing records) are hefty cash cows for a struggling industry.

    The good points about this super deluxe boxset *just about* outweigh the negative to justify its price tag. The complete Live and Loud show is by far the standout (even though you can buy it as a standalone DVD and save yourself a LOT of money). It’s nice to hear the Albini mix of HSB – but I think it was a wise move to get Scott Litt involved in the end. However, the Albini mix of ‘All Apologies’ is a vast improvement on Litt’s terrible, wishy washy mix (which has always been the weakest part of the album).

    It’s great to have the fantastic b-sides compiled too. No more having to suffer the unfunny Beavis and Butthead spoken word before ‘I Hate Myself…’. The ‘unreleased and unheard’ tracks are very hit and miss. The early performance of Marigold is great, but how many times are you going to sit and listen to instrumental demos? Once or twice will be enough for me. As for the ‘Forgotten Tune’, it’s quite interesting to see the band trying to explore a different route (Kurt was, quite rightly, a big fan of Sebadoh, and this track would have fitted nicely on ‘Sebadoh vs Helmet’ or ‘Bubble & Scrape’).

    I agree with the 2013 ‘remix’ being rather too close to the original mixes to warrant its existence. The alternative solo to Serve the Servants is interesting… but I’m glad they dropped it. Francis Farmer has a bit of swagger to the guitar break and, dare I say it, I think the cello-lite version of Dumb sounds better, more intimate than the original. When the cello comes in on the bridge, the song soars. Beautiful.

    Oh, and the 2013 remix of All Apologies is a million times better than Scott Litt’s mawkish 1993 hack job.

    Back to Live and Loud – I don’t know who EQ’d this but, damn, a little less treble please! My TV has got it’s own ‘Live and Loud’ audio setting now. Seriously.

    The saddest ‘extra’ of this release is Nirvana’s last ever TV appearance. Kurt looked like a man tired of it all. A man going through the motions of life, as the inevitable was waiting in the wings.

    So yeah, I now own yet more formats of one of my favourite albums (five and counting). No, I don’t think it’s as complete as it should have been. Yes, there’s more filler in the super deluxe edition than the walls of my derelict house (thankfully only renting it). No, it’s not the last we’ll hear from Geffen/Love. Yes, I’ll buy anything with the words ‘Nirvana’ and ‘unreleased’ on it.

    And that’s how the machine rolls on.

    1. I didn’t buy the full boxset. I couldn’t justify the pricetag . As nice as the book looks £75 for me is a bit much. Though im still tempted to buy it stil.

      I did buy the vinyl though and DVD and got the MP3s free. The vinyl sounds fantastic btw. Having In Utero split over discs rather than 1 vinyl disc makes a big difference.
      Really good pressing and sounds fantastic.

      I think it’s been a good release. The mastering was done well unlike the Nevermind 20th which was butchered with compression. For me that is a big plus and i hope they but the same care into any mastering of future releases. Infact i wish theyd put the Lights Out boxset with same sort of remastering.

      Huge credit to Albini and co. in that respect

      The 2013 mixes are interesting and actually bit more different than given credit.The original mixes are still better though on the whole. The Sappy 2013 mix isn’t very good for some reason.
      I like the 2013 mixes of All Aplogies , Radio Friendly Unit Shifter , Frances Farmer (with guitars cutting out in bridge)

      I agree it would been more interesting if some of 2013 mixes had more stuff different like the alternative solo of Serve The Servants. But the 2013 mixes are still quite notably different.

      The Endino session instrumental demos are interetsing to finally hear but do sound like a band not really into it. The jam is good though. The Very Ape and Scentless Apprentice demos are great.

      Forgotten Tune is a good jam and a nice surprise this is still some things that no one ever documented before. Was surprised by the sound quality of it for starters.
      Why no Lullaby tho ??

      The real icing on the cake is the Live & Loud release finally being released. I don’t care of ppl saying Kurt looked bored or the crowd not being that good i think this was a great live show. It sounds great and looks great. The show also shows that Pat actually did add quite a lot to Nirvana live during In Utero tour. I think some ppl have underated Pat’s role live. It did actually fattten their sound live as a band. Kurts voice was in really good form for this show. I think its a fantastic live show. Shame its not actually longer.

      One bit i find funny / telling bit is when someone from the crowd shouts “MTV sucks!” and Kurt stops and very aptly says “well why are you here then?” .

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