The impact that Nirvana's Nevermind had on the musical landscape since its release twenty years ago is indisputable. Only a handful of records every decade can be truly described as genre-defining and time has certainly proven Nevermind to be one of these. Not only that, Nevermind was the collision point between alternative rock and the mainstream, a collision which left a crater big enough for bands like Pearl Jam and Soundgarden to prosper with radio airplay and TV time, while the Van Halen-style hair metal of the 80's was quietly ushered out the back door. While Nevermind's impact has inevitably diminished with time, there is no denying that it deserves its now mythical status as a classic album of the modern era.
To celebrate the album's birthday this month Nevermind is being re-released with a whole host of supplemental material added like obscure B-sides, live performances, studio rarities and much more, but despite all these shiny new additions the album itself is still clearly the star of the show. From the opening strains of 'Smells Like Teen Spirit', through 'In Bloom', 'Come As You Are', 'Lithium' to 'Lounge Act', Nevermind is populated entirely by songs that have become part of the cultural pantheon of popular music today. If Nirvana's debut album Bleach was Nirvana in monochrome, then Nevermind was Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl in full, living colour.
We all know how the story of Nirvana eventually played out and Cobain's eventual suicide adds a dark gravitas to some of the lyrics and anguished vocals, but what has made Nevermind so enduring is the quality of the song-writing and how it broke free of the music before it and changed that which came after it. Sure, even Cobain himself joked that his music was just hackneyed versions of Pixies songs ('Smells Like Teen Spirit' particularly) but Nevermind contained more than just recycled music; it was rock at its most powerful and cathartic and should be remembered for just that, even if the ultimate tragedy of the band cannot be forgotten.