I think I was about nine years old. I remember walking into the living room where my sister was sitting in front of the stereo listening to Fiona Apple's Tidal and singing along with the lyrics booklet in her hands. I sat next to her and noticed another CD cover with a naked baby swimming in the water, staring at a dollar bill. I picked it up and asked, “What's this one?” “That's a band called Nirvana. The singer killed himself a couple years ago.” “How?” I asked. “He shot himself.” “Can we listen to it?” “Okay,” she said. She took the CD from my hand, put the disc into the stereo and hit play. Upon hearing the opening riffs of “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” I was hooked, and Nevermind became one of the main precursors to my love of grunge (which I don't need to reiterate because I've written about this particular genre more times than I can count).
But the album that cemented my belief in Nirvana was their final album, In Utero. Sure, Nirvana fans would argue that it was their most mainstream and pop-influenced effort, but I think it was also their most nuanced and forward-thinking album as well. Their sound was still rough, but it had gained a diversity that was lacking in previous efforts. You can take tracks like “Very Ape” and “Scentless Apprentice,” which harken back to their more metal moments and know they hadn't lost their touch, but then you could hear songs like “Dumb” and “All Apologies” and know their songwriting had not only expanded, it had blossomed. This is one of the most interesting things about music—as with any artform: People experience it differently. Depending on when you listen to it, what mood you're in, what sounds within a certain layered track are vibrating in your eardrum, you can take a lot from a little—and vice versa.
But the reason I decided to revisit this album (which I've been listening to for the past few weeks) is because it doesn't get old. It still sounds fresh, inviting, sinister and heartfelt. It still maintains a specific cadence that only Nirvana could pull off, and 'til this day, many argue that Kurt Cobain was probably the last real “rock star” we had and that we'll probably ever have. Not sure if that's true, and I wouldn't really care to argue the point as it's a trivial thought to ponder, but the music speaks for itself. Timeless? Sure. Tasteful? Maybe not. Rock 'n' roll? Most definitely. And this is probably why it's being reissued 20 years after it first dropped into record stores all over the world, when people pondered the controversy of Cobain bellowing “Rape me.”
The In Utero reissue is scheduled to hit stores and online markets on Sept. 24, and will be available on both CD and LP formats. The “Super Delux Edition” box set will include 70 additional tracks. That's right: 70 “remastered, remixed, rare, unreleased and live recordings.” According to the Universal Music announcement, it will be “a veritable treasure trove of never-before-heard demos, B-sides, compilation tracks,” and will also include a DVD of Nirvana's “Live and Loud” concert that was filmed on Seattle's Pier 48 on Dec. 13, 1993. But don't worry, the concert DVD will also be sold as a stand-alone item; if you don't want to put the bones down for the entire box set, you can buy it all by its lonesome. It's exciting news for this particular music fan. The tracklists for the box set haven't been announced, so scan those headlines, music nerds. You can also view an old television ad the band filmed for the initial release of In Utero below.