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IN UTERO

IN UTERO

1993

1-Serve The Servants | 2-Scentless Apprentice | 3-Heart Shaped Box | 4-Rape Me | 5-Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle | 6-Dumb | 7-Very Ape | 8-Milk It | 9-Pennyroyal Tea | 10-Radio Friendly Unit Shifter | 11-Tourette's | 12-All Apologies


INFO

In Utero was the final studio recording from the band Nirvana. It was released on September 21, 1993 by Geffen Records. Produced by Steve Albini, the album was intended on securing Nirvana's indie credibility by not pandering to mainstream tastes. The alienated, bitter lyrics and atonal sounds make for a gloomy record, especially with the knowledge that it was the last album before Kurt Cobain's suicide. The album's opening line is particularly telling; "Teenaged angst has paid off well, now I'm bored and old."

In Utero went to #1 on Billboard's Top 200.


TRACK LISTING

1. Serve the Servants
2. Scentless Apprentice
3. Heart Shaped Box
4. Rape Me
5. Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle
6. Dumb
7. Very Ape
8. Milk It
9. Pennyroyal Tea
10. Radio Friendly Unit Shifter
11. Tourette's
12. All Apologies

Gallons Of Rubbing Alcohol Flow Through The Strip (bonus track)

European releases included a bonus track: "Gallons of Rubbing Alcohol Flow Through The Strip", referred to on releases as "Devalued American Dollar Purchase Incentive Track", which appears 25 minutes after the end of "All Apologies".


SONGS INFORMATION

1. Serve The Servants
Recorded February 14-March, 1993. Pachyderm Studios, Canon Falls, MN.

2. Scentless Apprentice
Recorded February 14-March, 1993. Pachyderm Studios, Canon Falls, MN.

3. Heart Shaped Box
Recorded February 14-March, 1993. Pachyderm Studios, Canon Falls, MN.

4. Rape Me
Recorded February 14-March, 1993. Pachyderm Studios, Canon Falls, MN.

5. Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle
Recorded February 14-March, 1993. Pachyderm Studios, Canon Falls, MN.

6. Dumb
Recorded February 14-March, 1993. Pachyderm Studios, Canon Falls, MN.

7. Very Ape
Recorded February 14-March, 1993. Pachyderm Studios, Canon Falls, MN.

8. Milk It
Recorded February 14-March, 1993. Pachyderm Studios, Canon Falls, MN.

9. Pennyroyal Tea
Recorded February 14-March, 1993. Pachyderm Studios, Canon Falls, MN.

10. Radio Friendly Unit Shifter
Recorded February 14-March, 1993. Pachyderm Studios, Canon Falls, MN.

11. Tourette's
Recorded February 14-March, 1993. Pachyderm Studios, Canon Falls, MN.

12. All Apologies
Recorded February 14-March, 1993. Pachyderm Studios, Canon Falls, MN.

13. Gallons Of Rubbing Alcohol Flow Through The Strip
Recorded January 22, 1993. Ariola Ltda BMG, Rio de Janeiro.


SONGS MEANING

Serve the Servants - An autobiographical song about the whole Nirvana experience, the 'witch hunt' on Courtney Love, and a sarcastic response to the emphasis placed on the divorce of Kurt's parents.

Scentless Apprentice - Based on the novel “Perfume” by Patrick Suskind, about a perfume maker who kills virgins for their scent.

Heart Shaped Box - Themes of co-dependancy and many other themes.

Rape me - In Kurt's words, the song is a sort of poetic justice. A guy rapes a girl, he ends up in jail, and is raped there.

Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle - A song about the story of Frances Farmer, who was declared insane and lobotomized.

Dumb - Ignorance is bliss. There is a certain care-free happiness involved in being dumb. Drug related themes dominate the song.

Very Ape - An attack on the stereotypical macho man.

Milk It - A song about co-dependancy, it heavily carries the medical theme.

Pennyroyal Tea - A song about making a tough decision and the difficult choices around it and the guilt following it. Pennyroyal Tea is an abortive substance.

Radio Friendly Unit Shifter - According to Kurt this song is a throwaway. A bunch of random poetry lines thrown together. The title is a reference to “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and it's slick, radio-friendly sound.

Tourette's - This song has no meaning at all. Kurt just screamed a lot. Based on tourette's syndrome, which causes one to shout out obscenities at any time.

All Apologies - Contrary to popular belief, this song is not about Francis and Courtney. He wrote it for them, but none of the lyrics really apply.

Gallons of Rubbing Alcohol Flow Through the Strip - More or less, a poem to words. This is an improv-style song.


ALBUM PICTURES

Front | Back | CD


CREDITS

Karen Mason - Photography
Steve Albini - Engineer
Kurt Cobain - Bass, Guitar, Vocals, Art Direction, Design, Photography
Dave Grohl - Drums
Adam Kasper - Assistant Engineer
Scott Litt - Mixing
Bob Ludwig - Mastering
Krist Novoselic - Bass
Charles Peterson - Photography
Bob Weston - Technician
Kera Schaley - Cello
Michael Lavine - Photography
Robert Fisher - Art Direction, Design, Photography
Neil Wallace - Photography
Alex Grey - Illustrations


REVIEW

This is the way Nirvana's Kurt Cobain spells success: s-u-c-k-s-e-g-g-s. Never in the history of rock & roll overnight sensations has an artist, with the possible exception of John Lennon, been so emotionally overwhelmed by his sudden good fortune, despised it with such devilish vigor and exorcised his discontent on record with such bristling, bull's-eye candor. In Utero is rife with gibes – some hilariously droll, others viciously direct – at life in the post-Nevermind fast lane, at the moneychangers who milked the grunge tit dry in record time and at the bandwagon sheep in the mosh pit who never caught on to the desperate irony of "Here we are now, entertain us." The very first words out of Cobain's mouth in "Serve the Servants," In Utero's petulant, bludgeoning opener, are "Teenage angst has served me well/Now I'm bored and old," sung in an irritated, marble-mouthed snarl that immediately derails any lingering expectations for a son of "Smells Like Teen Spirit."

It gets better. In "Very Ape," a two-minute corker cut from the same atomic-fuzz cloth as the band's 1989 debut album, Bleach, Cobain gets right down to brass tacks, against a burning-rubber lead guitar squeal and the mantric rumble of bassist Chris Novoselic and drummer Dave Grohl: "I am buried up to my neck in/Contradictionary lies." (Nice pun, that.) The kiss-off quickly follows: "If you ever need anything, don't hesitate/To ask someone else first." Cobain slightly overplays his hand with the title of "Radio Friendly Unit Shifter." Nirvana have been called many things over the past two years; that, as far as I can tell, is not one of them. But Cobain cuts right to the heart of the mire with a torrent of death-throe guitar feedback and a brilliant metaphor for the head-turning speed with which one man can suddenly sire a nation: "This had nothing to do with what you think/If you ever think at all.... All of a sudden my water broke."

Frankly, Nirvana as a band and Cobain as the point man have earned the right to spit in fortune's eye. Generation X is really a generation hexed, caught in a spin cycle of updated 70s punk and heavy-metal aesthetics and cursed by the velocity with which even the most abrasive pop under-culture can be co-opted and compromised. One minute, Nevermind is jackbooting Michael Jackson out of the No. 1 slot; the next, grunge jock Dan Cortese is screaming, "I love this place!" on behalf of Burger King. Even the hippies got a summer or two to themselves in the mid-'60s before the dough-re-mi boys horned in. So it's hardly a stretch to suggest that in "Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle" (a slash-and-burner named after the locally born actress, whose rebellious streak brought her to the brink of insanity), it is really Cobain who wants to torch the town and send the A&R hounds packing.

None of this unrepentantly self-obsessed rant & roll would be half as compelling or convincing if Nirvana weren't such master blasters – Novoselic and Grohl deserve a few extra bows here – and Cobain wasn't a songwriter of such ferocious honesty and focused musical smarts. Cobain essentially works according to one playbook, but it's a winner no matter how he runs it. His songs invariably open with a slow-boil verse, usually sung in a plaintive groan over muted strumming and a tempered backbeat. Then Cobain vaporizes you with a chorus of immense power-chord static and primal howling. That, in a nutshell, is "Teen Spirit" and "Come As You Are." It also covers, to varying degrees, "Rape Me," "Penny Royal Tea" and "Milk It" on In Utero.

But the devilry is in the details. "Rape Me" opens as a disquieting whisper, Cobain intoning the title verse in a battered croon, which sets you up beautifully to get blind-sided by the explosive hook line. In the sepulchral folk intro of "Penny Royal Tea," Cobain almost sounds like Michael Stipe at the beginning of R.E.M.'s "Drive" – before the heaving, fuzz-burnt chorus comes lashing down with a vengeance.

Steve Albini's production, an au naturel power-trio snort that is almost monophonic in its compressed intensity, is particularly effective during those dramatic cave-ins. The word grunge, of course, doesn't do this kind of ravishing clatter justice. But Nirvana never bought into the simple Black Flag-cum-Sabbath hoodlum shtick anyway. From Bleach on, they have specialized in a kind of luminous roar and scarred beauty that has more to do with Patti Smith, the Buzzcocks and Plastic Ono-era John Lennon.

Actually, the icy tension of the part ballad, part punk-rock blues "Heart-Shaped Box" and the amorous chamber-punk urgency of "Dumb" ("My heart is broke/But I have some glue/Help me inhale/And mend it with you") confirm that if Generation Hex is ever going to have its own Lennon – someone who genuinely believes in rock & roll salvation but doesn't confuse mere catharsis with true deliverance – Cobain is damn near it. In "Heart-Shaped Box," the kind of song Stone Temple Pilots couldn't write even with detailed instructions, Cobain sets up a hypnotic coiled-spring tension between the frayed elegance of the verse melody and the strong Oedipal undertow of his obsession ("Throw down your umbilical noose so I can climb right back"). The last track, "All Apologies," is another stunning trump card, the fluid twining of cello and guitar hinting at a little fireside R.E.M. while the full-blaze pop glow of the chorus shows the debt of inspiration Cobain has always owed to Paul Westerberg and the vintage Replacements.

It's the last thing most people would expect from Angst Central, and it's an inspired sign-off that shows how Nirvana have been reborn in the face of suck-cess. In Utero is a lot of things – brilliant, corrosive, enraged and thoughtful, most of them all at once. But more than anything, it's a triumph of the will.


ALBUMS SECTION
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