Nirvana: Bleach (Sub Pop import US LP only)

REAL ROCK music should hurt. Like being too near an exploding plate glass window, it should get under your skin and cause you to writhe with a mixture of pleasure and pain.

If you find yourself nodding off to Guns N’ Roses’ occasional acoustic noodlings then wake up to Nirvana. Scrap all that Soft Metal crap and get behind these brats!

Nirvana are shot in negative for their cover photo, but don’t be fooled for there is a totally positive attitude to what they do. They walked into some guy’s recording studio, stuck their $600 life savings into the breast pocket of his bowling shirt and said, “Let’s make a record… One that hurts!” Bleach is the result.

This is the biggest, baddest sound that Sub Pop have so far managed to unearth. So primitive that they manage to make label mates Mudhoney sound like Genesis, Nirvana turn up the volume and spit and claw their way to the top of the musical garbage heap.

Included here (natch!) is their brilliant single ‘Love Buzz’, shorn of its original Looney Toon opening but still a magnificent couple of minutes.

Equally glorious is ‘Negative Creep’, a leash strainer of a song that eventually gets loose and goes on the rampage like a rabid Rottweiler. Fab!

Bleach could be accused of being a record that is slightly top heavy with too much filler (the overlong ‘Shifting’ being a prime example), but give it enough spins and even the silt rises to the top. Nirvana are undoubtedly at their best when they’re playing short and punchy songs as opposed to drawn out experiments with sound… But what the hell! For a first LP this sounds pretty damn good to me.

Play these Bleach boys all summerlong.

© Edwin PounceyNew Musical Express, 8 July 1989

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