Secret Memo Regarding Nirvana’s ‘In Utero’ Reissue Leaked
By the Collapse Board editors
The following document was obtained by Collapse Board from an unnamed source. It is currently being distributed to all major music publications and websites. Despite the threat of lawsuit, we have decided to publish this document verbatim. The author of the document is unknown.
This memo is being sent out to prepare everyone for the major musical event of 2013. I am speaking, of course, about the 20th anniversary reissue of In Utero by Nirvana. Our friends at Pitchfork will produce a news item around May letting people know that the reissue is coming. Details will be scant, but it will nevertheless grease the wheels and allow a suitable amount of excitement to build up before the actual reissue. When the reviews start to appear it is vital that they all hold to a similar pattern. To understand why this is the case we must look once more to The Beatles. The sheer amount of Beatles literature (and its continued market success) should tell us all one very important fact: people not only like to read the same story over and over again, they demand it. Our job is to retell the story, to reinforce the legends, to emphasise the inflexibility of the narrative. So, given these facts I’ve prepared some bulletin points that focus on what each review should highlight:
- Give some brief background details. This is called SETTING THE SCENE. The Nirvana/Kurt Cobain legend must reinforce again and again the idea of the reluctant star, the uncomfortable voice of a generation. I recommend the use of the term “thrust into the limelight”. It functions beautifully for our purposes. I can’t stress enough that if the tragedy of the story is to emerge it can only do so from the idea of the reluctant star. Nevermind made them famous. What would they do now? (If you must mention Incesticide, be sure to call it a “stopgap” release.)
- In Utero must be viewed as their attempt to regain punk credibility. Nirvana are on a major label, but you should present Cobain as a punk rocker at heart. Further tragedy can be wrung from the idea of the compromise that Nirvana made when they opted to sweeten two of the Steve Albini-produced tracks and make them more airplay friendly. (Please note: the original Albini-produced album will be available with the reissue. We have several bloggers working on reviews that seek to dismiss the original release and describe the original Albini mix as a ‘revelation’. This should bring the Nevermind haters on board).
- The reissue itself. The best way to get people to buy an album twice is to say it has been remastered. This usually amounts to making it louder, but this is where reviews can be crucial. The reviewer must create an unscratchable itch in the reader that makes them view the original release as an inferior product. Phrases like “went back to the original master tapes” and “working with the band” help, but it must be more than that. Use other phrases like “Cobain’s aching howl sounds even more revelatory” (be careful not to overuse revelation/revelatory), and indicate that the remastering job “breathes new life” into the album. Don’t insinuate that the mix has changed, more that it has been enhanced so that you hear everything with new ears.
- The bonus tracks. The original Albini mix will be a huge draw. Ultimately this will be the thing that convinces the doubters to part with their money. When dealing with the original Albini mix, explore the idea of compromise versus Cobain’s “original vision”, and don’t miss the opportunity to bring tragedy to the surface once again.
- Summing up. Two things are essential when summing up In Utero: It must be touted as the best Nirvana album. A phrase like “though Nevermind was their breakthrough, In Utero is undoubtedly their best” should work fine. You might want to say “may well be their best”. We’ve already sold them Nevermind by making it seem like a special moment in musical history, so let’s sell them In Utero by pointing out that it’s actually their best. This time, it’s all about the music. The second thing to emphasise is that In Utero must be seen as the last will and testament of a soul not long for this world. Stress how dark, disjointed, and angry the album is. Stress its compromised creation. Be sure to include a sentence along the lines of “just over six months after In Utero’s release Cobain would be dead by his own hand”. By all means, mention heroin and suicide attempts but make sure Cobain’s untimely death seems tragic yet inevitable.
Kurt Cobain: Reluctant star. Pressure. Compromise. Depression. Heroin. Death. It’s that simple. Don’t feel like you are selling yourself short by sticking to these guidelines. Instead know that you are performing a public service. You are providing comfort and certitude in a world of confusion. You are giving people something to believe in. You are helping to make the art of Kurt Cobain immortal. Expect more high profile media events along the lines of the Nirvana/McCartney collaboration before long and, with any luck, we can anticipate a lucrative last quarter in 2013. One last thing: is 2014 too early for a 15th anniversary of the first White Stripes album, or should we wait for the 20th anniversary? I look forward to your feedback. Let’s make the myths.
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