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When Nirvana Came to Britain


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Just watched this cool documentary on the BBC iplayer:

 

"Between 1989 and 1994, Nirvana introduced a new and exciting brand of rock music to the UK – one that changed the musical landscape and influenced a generation of British youth. 

Thirty years on since the release of their seminal album Nevermind, this documentary examines the special relationship between Nirvana and the UK – including the role Britain played in paving the way for their global success. 

Featuring rare and unseen archive footage - as well as home movies shot by the band themselves - the film charts Nirvana’s rise from their very first British tour, performing in pubs and tiny gig venues, through to legendary (and infamous) TV appearances on The Word and Top of the Pops that helped cement their status as one of the biggest rock bands on the planet, taking ‘grunge culture’ from the underground to the mainstream."

 

I especially liked the insights into their first UK tours in 89 and 90.

My personal highlight:

The "freestyling" dance on stage by a guy called Tony. That alone makes the documentary worth watching 😉

Also worth watching: Krist's stache

Enjoy 👍

 

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000zx9h/when-nirvana-came-to-britain

 

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I've recorded this ,so will probably watch over the weekend . Thanks for the reminder .

Was never a huge nirvana fan tbh , but thought I'd share a couple of experiences ..

Back in ( '91?) before never mind album was out 4 of us saw them at the Astoria . 
Hole were supporting , so we went to the bar. 

The thing here to remember , is that 2 of my friends were heavily into them and grunge in general , and I was stuck in metal . My other friend is ufo and metal etc. so, myself and the other friend bought tickets on the night on a whim, after coming out of the angel pub up the road . W were all in the balcony with a table . 
My metal friend hated them . Sound wasn't great . Just loud and pearcy where we were . The other 2 liked them .

I was indifferent as I never had anything , although grandma take me home was embedded in my brain . 

They do like a chorus ..

 

Saw them at the Kilburn national as an added date  a couple of years later and they were amazing . Apparently the grunge bands performances could vary on any given night . 
 

Apologies for the ramble ..

Edited by RAY AGAINST THE MACHINE
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I can't understand how their appearance on The Word would have in any way elevated then to fame. I remember seeing it at the time. Kurt Cobain was absolutely smashed of his tits and they played and sounded absolutely awful. 

 

That very appearance was one of the reasons I never really rated the band at all. 

 

Yeah granted, they probably had a unique sound at the time. But the slurry illegible, unintelligible singing totally ruined it for me. I never understood why they were considered to be such a great band. 

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2 hours ago, Eldon Tyrell said:

"....Between 1989 and 1994, Nirvana introduced a new and exciting brand of rock music to the UK..."

 

"Introduced"?! Mudhoney had already made such an impression, a copy of Superfuzz Bigmuff is casually lying around in the background on the cover of Transvision Vamp's Velveteen

 

TransvisionVampVelveteen.jpg

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8 hours ago, Newfoundfreedom said:

I never understood why they were considered to be such a great band. 

 

 

I think it was partly because it was groundbreaking music. Grunge was quite new at the time. Certainly with me it brought something out in me. I was a metal head but I thought this music sounds better, newer, dirtier.

Then there was the fact that they wrote such good songs.

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11 minutes ago, ubit said:

 

 

I think it was partly because it was groundbreaking music. Grunge was quite new at the time. Certainly with me it brought something out in me. I was a metal head but I thought this music sounds better, newer, dirtier.

Then there was the fact that they wrote such good songs.

 

I wouldn't know. I could never understand a single word he was singing. 

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34 minutes ago, ubit said:

 

 

I think it was partly because it was groundbreaking music. Grunge was quite new at the time. Certainly with me it brought something out in me. I was a metal head but I thought this music sounds better, newer, dirtier.

Then there was the fact that they wrote such good songs.

I can appreciate them now but didn’t at the time. I guess having listened to Mudhoney, Pixies, Buthole Surfers etc for a while it just didn’t sound that new to me. They wrote good tunes though.

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It was hardly a new type of music - grunge can trace it origins well back into the 70's -  and not new to Britain. The only difference is that they were the first purveyors of that style to hit the mass public awareness in the UK. Much like punk, that had actually been around for 3 or 4 years before it became a 'new' UK phenomenon in 1976, so a bit of poetic licence there from iPlayer.

 

I went to see them in Bradford at Christmas 91 or 92.  A friend of mine was mad for them, didn't wan't to go on his own.  They were interesting and definitely had something about them, but I've  seen plenty of pub bands put on a more entertaining, more technically competent show.

 

Im a rocker with a broad spectrum of tastes and do love Nirvana, but there show was underwhelmning, perhaps barely north of s***e.

Edited by Bassfinger
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Loved Nirvana lots. It was punk, so not really about being in tune or singing audibly, more about infectiously channelling rage. The fact the guy had a knack of finding a cracking melody among workaday power chords, and on a good day had a voice that teetered magically between little-boy purity and F.U. snarl, made them worth 100 Pearl Jams. The Robert Plant it was OK to like.

Saw them in Portsmouth and thought they were good. Passed up on seeing them in London a couple of years later as it seemed a long way to go. Then heard Nevermind and instantly regretted that decision.

They kipped on a mate’s floor after the Portsmouth gig. Last time I saw him he was still dining out on “Nirvana cleaned my kitchen”.

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14 minutes ago, Bassfinger said:

  They were interesting and definitely had something about them, but I've  seen plenty of pub bands put on a more entertaining, more technically competent show.

 

Poor Kurt. If only he'd been more entertaining and technically competent... he might have left some sort of legacy behind.

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7 minutes ago, wateroftyne said:

 

Poor Kurt. If only he'd been more entertaining and technically competent... he might have left some sort of legacy behind.

I think it was the hype that ultimately killed the poor bloke.

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1 hour ago, Bassfinger said:

It was hardly a new type of music

 

 

I never said it was new. It was relatively new and Nirvana were the first to be mainstream. No genre of music just appears. It's the same with heavy metal. Everyone tries to say this band or that band and fair enough Black Sabbath were among the first but it is always an evolving thing usually many bands contribute to this.

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39 minutes ago, Newfoundfreedom said:

 

Well, that and Courtney Love. 

I always feel really sorry for guys like Cobain, Amy Winehouse etc that get stratospheric success and media scrutiny when they are young, a bit messed up and just trying to deal with their own everyday lives. The pressure and scrutiny must be horrendous. I read one gushing review at the time saying he was better than Jimi Hendrix. Not sure what universe the author was on but how would anyone other than some form of egomaniac live up to those expectations?

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17 minutes ago, tegs07 said:

I always feel really sorry for guys like Cobain, Amy Winehouse etc that get stratospheric success and media scrutiny when they are young, a bit messed up and just trying to deal with their own everyday lives. The pressure and scrutiny must be horrendous. I read one gushing review at the time saying he was better than Jimi Hendrix. Not sure what universe the author was on but how would anyone other than some form of egomaniac live up to those expectations?

 

All true. But I actually meant literally, not figuratively. 

 

Compelling viewing if you haven't already seen it. 

 

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3253624/

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1 hour ago, Bassfinger said:

They were interesting and definitely had something about them, but I've  seen plenty of pub bands put on a more entertaining, more technically competent show.


If only Kurt had played a blazing Phrygian/Mixolydian hybrid picked lead line over Pennyroyal Tea instead of some 3 note feedback I'd have had way more respect for him!

 

On a serious note, for kids my age in the late 80s/early 90s Nirvana were a revelation and opened up my eyes and ears to a whole new world of music I hadn't really been exposed to in the UK. People can argue the toss and compare Richard size about how they knew punk before it was punk or whatever, but to me punk rock was/is more about a mindset rather than a sound. Nirvana/Kurt had a huge range of musical influences and that melting pot created some stunning music and turned loads of people like me onto some truly great music.

 

It was almost certainly the success that killed Kurt - he just wanted to be in a cool band who made music for people who loved music like he did. Sounds like he really hated all of the hangers on, the legions of new fans who really didn't know anything about them apart from what they saw on MTV/News channels, especially the frat boy fans who were proclaiming to be fans when a few years earlier would have been calling him names in the street.

 

Some of their live shows were seismic shifts, some of them not great but that's the nature of the beast. But as far as not being able to hear a word he's singing, to paraphrase Wesley Snipes in White Men Can't Jump...

 

"Look man, you can listen to Jimi but you can’t hear him. There’s a difference. Just because you’re listening to him doesn’t mean you’re hearing him."

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I'm sure if I'd been a snotty teenager just discovering music in the early 90s I'd have loved Nirvana. However I was in my 30s and to me it just sounded like a dumbed-down version of The Pixies. Grunge held little interest as I was mostly listening to (and playing) House and other electronic dance music.

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Was never a big fan, and to be honest although I loved Teen Spirit when it came out it got overplayed for me. But I watched the prog about them and with the shows/attitude etc I agree with @Bassybert, punk through & through. They could have been really polished, as per the record but live seemed to keep to their true selves. 

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10 hours ago, Ricky Rioli said:

 

"Introduced"?! Mudhoney had already made such an impression, a copy of Superfuzz Bigmuff is casually lying around in the background on the cover of Transvision Vamp's Velveteen

 

TransvisionVampVelveteen.jpg

You are right and Mudhoney toured the UK in the same time period (also starting in 89). However, most people watching programmes from the BBC probably would not know them.

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12 hours ago, RAY AGAINST THE MACHINE said:

I've recorded this ,so will probably watch over the weekend . Thanks for the reminder .

Was never a huge nirvana fan tbh , but thought I'd share a couple of experiences ..

Back in ( '91?) before never mind album was out 4 of us saw them at the Astoria . 
Hole were supporting , so we went to the bar. 

The thing here to remember , is that 2 of my friends were heavily into them and grunge in general , and I was stuck in metal . My other friend is ufo and metal etc. so, myself and the other friend bought tickets on the night on a whim, after coming out of the angel pub up the road . W were all in the balcony with a table . 
My metal friend hated them . Sound wasn't great . Just loud and pearcy where we were . The other 2 liked them .

I was indifferent as I never had anything , although grandma take me home was embedded in my brain . 

They do like a chorus ..

 

Saw them at the Kilburn national as an added date  a couple of years later and they were amazing . Apparently the grunge bands performances could vary on any given night . 
 

Apologies for the ramble ..

Cools story. I never saw Nirvana live. However, I saw most of the other protagonists of the "grunge movement", i.e. Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Stone Temple Pilots and Pearl Jam. Out of these, my fav are AIC. Saw them in the Manchester Academy in 2009, in the o2 in Bham in 2013 (with Walking Papers (featuring Duff McKagan and Screeming Trees's Barrett Martin) and Ghost), in the o2 in Leeds in 2018 and in the Arena Bham in Birmingham in 2019. 

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10 hours ago, Ricky Rioli said:

 

"Introduced"?! Mudhoney had already made such an impression, a copy of Superfuzz Bigmuff is casually lying around in the background on the cover of Transvision Vamp's Velveteen

 

TransvisionVampVelveteen.jpg

I did not notice the copy of Superfuzz Bigmuff but I did notice the Music Man Stingray 🙂 

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1 hour ago, BigRedX said:

I'm sure if I'd been a snotty teenager just discovering music in the early 90s I'd have loved Nirvana. However I was in my 30s and to me it just sounded like a dumbed-down version of The Pixies. Grunge held little interest as I was mostly listening to (and playing) House and other electronic dance music.

Yep I fit that category but would have been more into Ozric Tentacles, New Model Army etc around that time.

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