Nirvana and Phish CD Reviews (Albuquerque Alibi 12/3/09)
2 CD Reviews from the Albuquerque Alibi‘s upcoming Sonic Reducer section:
Bleach (Deluxe Edition)
Sub Pop, November 2009
Review by Adam Perry
There has been a lot of Nirvana news lately, from the Live at Reading release to the depressing controversy over Guitar Hero 5’s ugly decision to allow gamers to use character modeled after the late Kurt Cobain to sing Bush and Bon Jovi songs. Amid all the fuss, Sub Pop’s 20th Anniversary re-release of Bleach, a “Deluxe Edition” that includes a complete live Nirvana show from 1990, is really the only noteworthy event. Nirvana’s first album, with Chad Channing on the drummer’s throne would later be Dave Grohl’s, featured plenty of SST rip-offs and manically-depressed screams from Cobain, who was still seeking his voice as a songwriter. This higher-fidelity version of Bleach is enjoyably rough and mean; hopefully songs like “About a Girl” and “Negative Creep” also point young listeners to bands like Mudhoney, The Pixies and Dinosaur Jr., who Nirvana was basically impersonating at this point.
Festival 8 (10/31/09) featuring “Exile On Main Street”
JEMP Records, November 2009
Review by Adam Perry
Even those who loathe Phish and their zany juxtapositions of classical, jazz and jam-rock have nonetheless regularly admired the Vermont band’s exceptional covers of everyone from Duke Ellington to Pavement. This Halloween in Indio, CA, Phish played an official “musical costume” for the first time since their 1998 cover of the Velvet Underground’s indie blueprint Loaded, this time choosing The Rolling Stones’ soulfully debaucherous 1972 classic Exile On Main Street, which was more treat than trick. Talented neo-soul singer Sharon Jones came along to help tackle Exile’s 18 bluesy tracks; with keyboardist Page McConnell deftly handling the most challenging lead vocal duties, Phish used legendary Stones lyrics like “who’s gonna help him to kick it?” from “Torn and Frayed” to reference Phish’s infamous struggles with substance abuse, while Trey Anastasio tempered the entire evening with occasionally-virtuosic guitar improvisation. The polarizing group’s Halloween 1996 cover of the Talking Heads’ Remain in Light was better, but Phish obviously put in the necessary work to do Exile justice.
Additional note: my young cousin Daniel drove from New Orleans to California to see this show!