Montage of Heck: The Home Recordings
Montage Of Heck is, quite obviously, more suitable for the devoted and hardcore Nirvana fans that still crave more after Kurt Cobain’s untimely death in 1994. I don’t think I could be un-biased in this review even if I forced my past to disappear, which is (so far) impossible”. Nirvana (Kurt Cobain in particular), Alice In Chains, Soundgarden, and other bands were the reason I picked up a guitar in the first place. While these Home Recordings truthfully sound awful in audio quality, it also reminds me of my own beginning as a musician. I’m sure this is the case in many other musicians as well. This isn’t high-tech audio production or a new direction in music, it is nostalgia.
For myself, one of the gems, is his very beautiful cover of The Beatles’ “And I Love Her”. This cover also exhibits a very different vocal style of Cobain, quite obviously before his well-known textured vocals became his trademark. The track is only two minutes long, but that only prompts me to click “repeat”.
The early demo of “Sappy”, which actually finally appeared as “Verse, Chorus, Verse” on the No Alternative compilation. This version, slowed far down and sung by Cobain an octave lower, shines more light at his self-mockery that the song is based on.
This down-octave version of “Sappy” is very reminiscent of Nirvana’s performance of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” on November 27th, 1991 on Top of the Pops (UK Show). The performance was included in the Nirvana DVD “Live! Tonight! Sold Out!!!” where only the vocals of the performance were live. This prompted Kurt to sing the song in a baritone voice and sunglasses, while “eating” the microphone. Ironically, I personally think the chorus vocals sound fantastically uncomfortable. While there needs to be no defense, the back-story behind this was that the band, especially Cobain, was hurt by such a massive success of the song while ignoring all his other compositions. Simply because, “that’s how mainstream media goes”, doesn’t particularly mean any band has to like it or even conform to it.
“Letters To Frances”, an instrumental recording, very much has the atmosphere of writing for his daughter, Frances Bean Cobain. Atmospherically, it is very beautiful and something even I would love to hear as I lay down to sleep.
“Beans”. At first, I thought I had nothing that could be added to its near-perfect existence. Then, I remember how the media and record company seemed to portray Cobain as always being miserable, troubled and dark. While this was true, Cobain’s mother has even noted that the world was unfortunate to not see his other side. While his humorous and soft side is portrayed in long lost interviews where he gets the chance to discuss musicians who have inspired him, and thus almost looking childlike with excitement, “Beans” is an example of the near inside stories of his hilariousness as well.
What’s interestingly chilly, though I am skeptical if this was something Kurt would want the world to hear, is the chilling spoken word “Aberdeen” where, among other things, he speaks about how his parents shifting him around and high school affected him.
There are a lot of reasons why I identified with Kurt, Layne (Staley), and many others that never felt like they fit in. Maybe they, in reality, didn’t fit in after all. Maybe it’s the fact that they found their floating lily pad that they could call their own and did the best they could with what they had.