Krist Novoselic, the former Nirvana bassist turned outspoken political advocate, has been blogging for a year for the Seattle Weekly. On the one-year anniversary of the column, Krist recalled perhaps his most notorious moment in the band (as opposed to Kurt Cobain, who had many).
A perfect Thanksgiving tale, the story of Novoselic’s infamous botched bass toss at the 1992 MTV Music Video Awards involves everyone from Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love to Brian May, Duff McKagan, and—yes—Axl Rose.
No summary could do the piece justice, but let me try: first off, Courtney Love had pissed off Axl Rose by claiming he was Francis Bean’s godfather, to which Axl told Kurt to “keep his woman in line.” Then, Kurt told MTV they were going to play “Rape Me,” which burst the blood vessels in MTV’s collective forehead. Nirvana eventually agreed to play “Lithium,” while playing the first few chords of “Rape Me” at first just to prank MTV. Then, Krist’s bass was plugged into an crappy amp that made an ungodly noise, so Krist, after multiple beers and a strange encounter with Duff, decided to do a bass toss. He claims this is the one time he actually didn’t catch the bass. Though he was not seriously injured (despite a bleeding forehead), Krist played it up for show, and crawled off stage. As paramedics came, they were cleared away by Queen’s Brian May, who simply offered Novoselic champagne. End of story.
If that doesn’t sound like a wild enough night for you, read Novoselic’s full account of the evening. It’s definitely worth your time. And in case you haven’t seen the incident: enjoy:
The Grunge Years – A Sub Pop Compilation
Some great tracks on this Sub-Pop compilation of acts grouped under the lazy “grunge” description! A few tracks, less so!
What strange cover-art !
1. Nirvana – Dive (3:52)
2. L7 – Shove (3:11)
3. Tad – Stumblin’ Man (3:36)
4. Beat Happening – Red Head Walk (2:08)
5. Mark Lanegan – Ugly Sunday (3:55)
6. Screaming Trees – Change Has C (3:18)
7. Soundgarden – Birth Ritual (6:08)
8. The Fluid – Tomorrow (2:39)
9. The Afghan Whigs – Retarded (3:24)
10. Babes in Toyland – House (3:34)
11. Mudhoney – Come to Mind (4:50)
12. The Walkabouts – Long Black Ve (5:00)
13. Love Battery – Between the Eye (4:26)
14. Dickless – Saddle Tramp (1:35)
Here she be:
The Grunge Years – A Sub Pop Compilation
Big thanks to bunalti.com
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Nirvana – MTV Unplugged in New York (1994)
Released November 1, 1994
Recorded November 18, 1993, at Sony Studios in New York City, New York
Producer Scott Litt, Alex Coletti, Nirvana
A wonderful document of an amazing performance which showed that, perhaps , Nirvana were on the crest of evolving into newer musical styles. Kurt’s shotgun soon put an end to that though!
The band wanted to do something different than a typical MTV Unplugged episode for its performance. According to Dave Grohl, “We’d seen the other Unpluggeds and didn’t like many of them, because most bands would treat them like rock shows – play their hits like it was Madison Square Garden, except with acoustic guitars.”
The group looked at Mark Lanegan’s 1990 album The Winding Sheet as a source of inspiration. Among the ideas the band members came up with included covering David Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold the World” and inviting members of the Meat Puppets to join them on stage.
The prospect of performing an entirely acoustic show made Cobain very nervous. The band dedicated two days to rehearsals. The rehearsal sessions were tense and difficult, with the band running into problems performing various songs.
During the sessions, Cobain disagreed with MTV as to how the performance should be presented. Producer Alex Coletti recollected that the network was unhappy with the band’s choice of the Meat Puppets as guests (“They wanted to hear the ‘right’ names-Eddie Vedder or Tori Amos or God knows who”, Coletti recalled) and the dearth of hit Nirvana songs on the setlist.
Upset, the day before filming was set to take place Cobain refused to play!! However, he appeared at the studio the following afternoon. Cobain was suffering from drug withdrawal and nervousness at the time; one observer said, “There was no joking, no smiles, no fun coming from him . . . Therefore, everyone was more than a little worried about his performance.”
Nirvana taped its performance for MTV Unplugged on November 18, 1993, at Sony Studios in New York City. Despite the show’s premise, Cobain insisted on running his acoustic guitar through his amplifier and effects pedals. Coletti built a fake box in front of the amplifier to disguise it as a monitor wedge. Coletti said, “It was Kurt’s security blanket. He was used to hearing this guitar through his Fender. He wanted those effects. You can hear it on ‘The Man Who Sold The World.’ It’s an acoustic guitar, but he’s obviously going through an amp.”
Nirvana was augmented by guitarist Pat Smear and cellist Lori Goldston, who had been touring with the band. Cobain suggested that the stage be decorated with stargazer lilies, black candles, and a crystal chandelier. Cobain’s request prompted the show’s producer to ask him, “You mean like a funeral?”, to which the singer replied yes!
Unlike many artists who appeared on the show, Nirvana filmed its entire performance in a single take. The band’s fourteen-song setlist included six cover versions. The group shied away from playing its better-known songs; the only hit the band performed was its 1992 single “Come as You Are”.
Ten songs in, Cris and Curt Kirkwood of the Meat Puppets joined the band onstage to perform three of their group’s songs with Nirvana. The set ended with a performance of the wonderful song “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” by blues legend Leadbelly. After the band finished, Cobain argued with the show’s producers, who wanted an encore but Cobain refused because felt he could not top the performance of that song.
After Kurt was found dead in April 1994, MTV aired the Nirvana episode of MTV Unplugged repeatedly. Following Cobain’s death, the band’s surviving members considered releasing a live album, but the task was too difficult for them so they instead opted to commercially release the Unplugged performance. Scott Litt, who had produced the performance, returned to produce the record.
MTV Unplugged in New York was released on November 1, 1994. Ben Thompson of Mojo wrote;
“The problem with Unplugged albums tends to be that, given that their original identity is as a video, you feel that you are not having the whole experience without something to watch. In Nirvana’s case, that is actually an advantage, because this particular whole experience is too intense to have over and over again. Even the colourless, generic aspect of the Unplugged format is vaguely reassuring here.”
Entertainment Weekly gave the album an A rating and reviewer David Browne noted that listening to the music in light of Cobain’s death was “unsettling”; Browne added;
“Beyond inducing a sense of loss for Cobain himself, Unplugged elicits a feeling of musical loss, too: The delicacy and intimacy of these acoustic rearrangements hint at where Nirvana (or at least Cobain, who was said to be frustrated with the limitations of the band) could have gone.”
By early 1995, MTV Unplugged in New York had surpassed Nirvana’s final studio album In Utero (1993) in sales, selling 6.8 million copies.
“About a Girl” was released as the album’s only commercial single in October 1994, backed with the Unplugged version of “Something in the Way” as the B-side. It was released on CD only in Australia and Europe. Promo singles were released for “The Man Who Sold the World”, “Polly”, “Lake of Fire”, and “Where Did You Sleep Last Night”.
Of the songs on the album, “About A Girl” became the biggest hit, becoming Nirvana’s fourth number one on the Modern Rock Tracks chart.
* Ranked #47 in Kerrang!’s 100 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die — Editors Choice.
* Ranked #53 in Kerrang!’s 100 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die — Readers Choice.
* Ranked #52 in Q’s 100 Greatest Albums Ever, voted by the readers of Q.
* Ranked #311 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time in 2003.
* Won a 2008 NME Award for ‘Best Music DVD’
1. “About a Girl” (Kurt Cobain) – 3:37
2. “Come as You Are” (Cobain) – 4:13
3. “Jesus Doesn’t Want Me for a Sunbeam” (Eugene Kelly, Frances McKee) – 4:37
4. “The Man Who Sold the World” (David Bowie) – 4:20
5. “Pennyroyal Tea” (Cobain) – 3:40
6. “Dumb” (Cobain) – 2:52
7. “Polly” (Cobain) – 3:16
8. “On a Plain” (Cobain) – 3:44
9. “Something in the Way” (Cobain) – 4:01
10. “Plateau” (Curt Kirkwood) – 3:37
11. “Oh Me” (Kirkwood) – 3:26
12. “Lake of Fire” (Kirkwood) – 2:56
13. “All Apologies” (Cobain) – 4:23
14. “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” (Traditional, Arranged by Leabelly) – 5:08
Here she be: