Nevermind – 20 Years On

by Owen O’Donnell

This week, the 20th anniversary edition of Nirvana’s seminal album, Nevermind, was released. The deluxe version includes several extras such as the usual remastering of the original recordings of hits such as Smells Like Teen Spirit and Lithium as well as rarities and demos for hardcore fans to enjoy.

The album was an unexpected smash hit in 1991 and largely influenced the musical landscape for much of the remaining decade. What’s also apparent is that I’m hard pressed to find an album which made as much of a seismic impact as Nevermind since then. Arguably, Oasis’ first two albums can be seen as important in kick starting the Britpop scene of the mid 1990’s but the Gallagher brothers’ influence never reached across the Atlantic quite like the snarling, visceral music of Nirvana, underpinned by their enigmatic frontman, Kurt Cobain.

This album marked the point where alternative rock finally broke into the mainstream at the expense of the over stylised hair metal that had dominated the late 80’s airwaves. Such music has largely vanished from the mainstream today to be replaced by more and more pop music, without a real “game changing” artist to emerge in recent times. Despite the relentless accolades from the music press; bands such as the Strokes, the Libertines and the Arctic Monkeys (while all extremely talented) have failed to produce a body of work which has captured the public imagination and amalgamated seamlessly into popular culture quite as successfully as Cobain, Novoselic and Grohl.

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