Nirvana - In Utero (Steve Albini 2013 Mix)
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Nirvana followed up their landmark album Nevermind with In Utero, which was originally released September 1993. The album was an intentional departure from the commercialist feel of 'Nevermind'. Despite it's rawness, 'In Utero' still spawned several hit singles like "Heart-Shaped Box", "All Apologies" and the controversial "Rape Me".
In Utero is a howling, defiantly punkish recording, an unsentimental throwback to an era of garage band epiphanies and raw, unadorned rock and roll. Nirvana rails against both alternative conformity and polished notions of commercial rock with the anthemic rage of true outcasts.
For the album's 20th Anniversary, the album's original mixes were remixed by the album's original sound engineer Steve Albini to achieve a more enjoyable listening experience.
Heavyweight double vinyl produced by Geffen Records in 2016. Gatefold sleeve. Direct Metal Mastered from the original analog tapes. Includes download card.
Abbreviated summary of Pitchfork's In Utero: 20th Anniversary Edition review.
While Kurt Cobain famously used the liner notes for 1992 rarities compilation Incesticide to call out the jocks, racists, and homophobes in Nirvana’s ever-expanding audience, In Utero promised a more aggressively hands-on process of weeding out the leeches, a concerted effort to realign Nirvana with the artists they actually listened to and away from those they were credited with spawning.
Kurt chose the album’s title as it reflected his lyrical yearning for a back-to-the-womb retreat from celebrity scrutiny. Ironically, it also proved emblematic of the record's messy birth. The story goes that it was a harmonious two-week quickie session with recording engineer Steve Albini in a rural Minnesota studio that lead to months of acrimonious exchanges in the press among the band, David Geffen, and Albini over the purportedly unlistenable nature of the results. There were requests for cleaner mixes, and cruddy cassette copies leaked to radio that falsely reinforced the label’s misgivings about the commerciality of this new record.
The second version of In Utero came to be on April 8, 1994, from which point the album would be forever known as the rough draft for rock‘n’roll’s most famous suicide note. In the wake of Cobain’s unexpected sign-off, it became nigh impossible to hear In Utero in any other context.
In a surprisingly conciliatory Musique Plus interview conducted just prior to the album’s release, Cobain stated that In Utero would mark the end of Nirvana as grunge torchbearers and, throughout the record, the band screech and howl like they're skinning themselves alive to expedite their reinvention. But not a lyric goes by on the album where Cobain doesn’t sound conflicted between what he wants to do and what he feels he has to do.
For the 2013 mix, Steve Albini told podcaster Vish Khanna, his intention was not to replace the 1993 mix, but to simply take a snapshot of the same songs “from a different angle.” The new version is in fact more textured and nuanced, but not at the expense of the album's bone-dry, brutalizing crunch. Most of its touch-ups are tastefully unobtrusive and illuminating, like the unearthed cello lines creeping behind the chorus of “Serve the Servants” that bring a greater sense of melancholy to the fore, or the screeching strings and slowly decaying fadeout of “All Apologies” that lend a more palpable degree of finality to the proceedings. - Stuart Berman