Nirvana – Bleach
It was the first Nirvana album to get the deluxe reissue treatment a half-dozen years ago (Nevermind followed in 2011 and In Utero in ‘13) and was likely a rude awakening for both new fans discovering the band through and old fans who may have forgotten what they really sounded like at first.
Krist Novoselic gets in the first word with a rumbling bass riff on “Blew,” which then blows the band’s debut wide open. Kurt Cobain’s gifts with melodies are already there, but the band is raw; they sound more like their then-peers Melvins and Mudhoney than what they’d later morph into (Dave Grohl wasn’t in the band yet; they record 10 songs with their original drummer Chad Channing and three more with Melvins drummer Dale Crover). Cobain will actually take a conventional guitar solo, rather than his later style of either simply playing the central melody of the song or sending a squall of noise through his amp.
Among all the riffery on display, some songs really stand out. “School,” with its repeated lyrics of “You’re in high school again” and “No recess!” well express how much he hated his education. “Negative Creep” is a great example of Cobain’s ability to mock himself and rock hard at the same time. “About a Girl,” written after Cobain spent an entire afternoon listening to Meet the Beatles! repeatedly, seems to drop from out of nowhere.
The song's expert inclusion in the band’s appearance on MTV Unplugged years later pointed backward to an earlier version of the band its newfound legion of fans likely missed entirely. And “Love Buzz,” the band’s first single, is actually a cover of a 20-year-old song by a Dutch rock band called Shocking Blue that somehow fit Nirvana like a glove and became a live workforce.