If there was one final nail in the slick, polished coffin of mainstream 1980’s music it was probably driven the deepest by the filthy, dirty, rock and roll hammer of the Grunge carcinoma.
At the same time the Madchester scene lay gasping for air and anonymous dance-house-techno music spread like a drug fuelled virus through the underground club acid scene the Guns n Roses album Appetite for Destruction (1987) muddied the mainstream rock n roll waters with a ferociously hedonistic and self destructive blend of high energy, gritty, bar room brawlers soaked in the “whiskey” of corporate stadium rock.
Punk Grunge Injection
The isolation of the Seattle scene had provided the perfect breeding ground for a musical style that injected filth into the rotten corpse of punk rock to produce a sludgy, down beat, no frills approach to rock music that pissed on everything before it. The core influences at the heart of grunge were bands such as the Melvins, Sonic Youth, Mudhoney and early 70’s bands like Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath.
Grunge was rock music but it was diseased, low-fi, burnt out, angry and unwashed – left out in the acid rain, alone, to decompose.
What made grunge unique was the howling expression of alienation, dissatisfaction and boredom through an irreverent do-it-yourself ethic of high volume, ear splitting noise and distortion – grunge gave guitar music exactly what it needed – a hard kick in the teeth.
Nirvana Bleach – Negative Creep
BY 1989 the Seattle scene was ripe to the point of rotting and it was time for the mainstream descent into the murky depths of limitless overdrive, distortion and discordance. The “new” anti-heroes wheeled out for the masses as champions of Grunge proved to be Seattle’s NIRVANA.
Nirvana’s first album, accurately titled BLEACH was released in 1989 on SUBPOP and delivered an edgy, bleak and claustrophobic, monochromatic, hard hitting and heavy sound on the verge of collapse. The record was named Bleach after Cobain found an AIDS prevention poster while Nirvana were driving through San Francisco. The poster advised heroin addicts to bleach their needles before use.
Load up on drugs – kill your friends
Cobain later suggested the band had crafted the songs in such a manner as to keep record label SUBPOP happy: they had been listening to The Smithereens and Celtic Frost and he had written the lyrics almost overnight; that he had suppressed his predilections for writing songs with a more melodic influence and pop alignment. Bleach is an explosive debut and a definitive insight into Cobain’s unique, locomotive, guitar talent – incisive, bastardized and frenzied, punctuated with the broken gunfire of melody.
Smells like Teen Spirit
NIRVANA moved to Geffen records and their second release, the gargantuan NEVERMIND (1991), stained the topology of rock music forever – Cobain claimed later that the record was “too slick.” With the release of the single “Smells like Teen Spirit” Cobain was immediately annointed as the iconic anti-hero and wasted demon of Generation X, a position he despised, loathed and treated with customary irreverence.
Kurt Cobain Guitar Sound
On Nevermind, Kurt Cobain played a 1960s Fender Mustang, a Fender Jaguar with DiMarzio pickups, and a few Fender Stratocasters with humbucker bridge pickups.
Fender Cobain Jaguar
Fender have released a Jaguar guitar meticulously modeled on Cobain’s unusual, battered and bruised 1965 left handed, Jaguar. The worn finish, dual humbucking pickups (DiMarzio humbucking DP103 PAF 36th Anniversary neck pickup and DP100 Super Distortion bridge pickup) together with triple knurled “chrome-dome” knobs, three-position toggle switch, black chrome Adjusto-Matic bridge and Gotoh® sealed tuners accurately replicate Kurt’s guitar.
Fender Cobain Mustang
Fender have also re-produced Cobain’s prized Mustang guitar. The Mustang features an angled single-coil Mustang neck pickup and completely ferocious Seymour Duncan® JB humbucking bridge pickup mounted directly to the body. Like Kurt’s guitar there are dual on-off/phase in-out switches for each pickup, a polyester-finished alder body and an Adjusto-Matic™ bridge with dynamic vibrato tailpiece.