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Not Quite Nirvana

January 22, 1994

Based upon Robert Hilburn's glowing review of a recent Nirvana concert ("Smells Like Rock Classics," Jan. 1), I was inspired to buy the band's latest offering, "In Utero." Since Hilburn informs that Nirvana's Kurt Cobain ranks with Dylan, Lennon, Costello and R.E.M., it seemed fair to expect a work of imagination, intensity, passion, intelligence, beauty and nuance: in short, great music reflecting the complexity of our shared human condition.

While listening to the record, I developed a headache. Cobain's wit, poetry and wordplay (gleaned from the liner notes) are sabotaged by Nirvana's incessant two-position switch formula (quiet verse/deafening chorus). Yes, he whispers and screams. Yes, manic depression's peaks and depths are rendered. And, yes, the music sounds awful.

Hilburn misleads the public and does a disservice to Nirvana and the greats he mentions. I bet that if Hilburn were candid, he would let us know what kind of earplugs he used and what pain reliever he took after Nirvana's show.

ALAN M. GHALEB

Woodland Hills

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