Record Label: Sub Pop
Continuing our legacy of reminding people Nirvana had a record before Nevermind, Sub Pop Records presents a non-deluxe, affordably-priced, single-LP version of Bleach, Nirvana's debut album.
Originally released by us in June of 1989, Bleach was widely recognized as a record music retailers should probably order after that one with the naked baby on the cover did so well in 1991. Now we proudly suggest you order this single-LP version of Bleach containing the full remastered album – as found on the Bleach Deluxe Edition – and a pretty printed inner sleeve. We promise it will sell.
This is one case where the legend really precedes the record itself. Cut for about 600 dollars in Jack Endino's studio over just a matter of days, this captures Nirvana at a formative stage, still indebted to the murk that became known as grunge, yet not quite finding their voice as songwriters. Which isn't to say that they were devoid of original material, since even at this stage Kurt Cobain illustrated signs of his considerable songcraft, particularly on the minor-key ballad "About a Girl" and the dense churn of "Blew."
A few songs come close to that level, but that's more a triumph of sound than structure, as "Negative Creep" and "School" get by on attitude and churn, while the cover of "Love Buzz" winds up being one of the highlights because this gives a true menace to their sound, thanks to its menacing melody. The rest of it sinks into the sludge, as the group itself winds up succumbing to grinding sub-metallic riffing that has little power, due to lack of riffs and lack of a good drummer. Bleach is more than a historical curiosity since it does have its share of great songs, but it isn't a lost classic -- it's a debut from a band that shows potential but haven't yet achieved it.