Nirvana’s Nevermind came too late. It’s big, Butch Vig production was good for radio play, but it was the simple raw sound of 1989’s Bleach that was Nirvana. I was just 21 when I was listening to Bleach constantly. It was loud and dirty. The guitars overly distorted, the drums slamming the cymbals with vigor, and there was Kurt Cobain screaming “give me back my alcohol.” How could I not like this record a lot?
This was grunge as I knew it. Along with albums like Soundgarden’s Ultramega OK and Screaming Trees’ Buzz Factory, the Seattle sound was high volume distorted guitars, with the occasional break to a clean guitar. Then Pearl Jam came along and, though I liked Ten, they ruined everything. Grunge was darker, angrier, and just more honest. It reflected the angst of the particular age and the depression that arises when it rains 300 days a year.
Like much of what I discovered, and loved, in the early 90s, Bleach represented an extreme. It was the sound of something inside stretching out and trying to become real in the outside world. It was a good soundtrack for the reckless driving of the pizza driver I was at the time, and of the late, late nights of that time as well.