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POP MUSIC | POP EYE

New Nirvana Set Due in October, Minus the Hype

July 14, 1996|Steve Hochman

Two years ago, just months after Kurt Cobain's suicide, work on a collection of live Nirvana recordings proved too painful for surviving band members Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic. So a disc featuring just the band's "MTV Unplugged" appearance from early '94 was released instead.

But now the two musicians have returned to the project and readied a two-CD set for release in October.

Still concerned about being seen as exploiting Cobain's death, though, Grohl and Novoselic will not do any interviews or other promotional activities for the album, given the working title of "From the Muddy Banks of Wishkah" and due in stores Oct. 8. There are also no plans for an accompanying video.

And there's apparently no need for promotion. With two years having passed since the release of "Unplugged in New York," the acoustic disc recorded just months before Cobain's death, fans have been clamoring for new Nirvana material.

Not only do six of the band's songs remain staples of rock radio playlists, but in recent months such obscurities as "Marigold," an old B-side written and sung by Grohl, and a bootleg featuring Cobain singing background for Hole, his wife Courtney Love's band, have been added by stations to satisfy their listeners' hunger.

"All the record company has to do is put it out and fans will buy it," says KROQ-FM music director Lisa Worden.

Megan Frampton, editor of the music trade publication CMJ, says there's no question that the new live album will rank with Pearl Jam's upcoming "No Code" (due next month) as the top alternative releases of the season. And the "no hype" campaign, she says, is perfect.

"I think it would be a disservice to do a video and interviews," says Frampton. "It would feel like they were simply cashing in."

The set was assembled recently by Grohl and Novoselic in Vancouver from recordings made of Nirvana shows from 1989--a year before the breakthrough "Nevermind" album--right up through shows from the final 1994 European tour, which was cut short after Cobain attempted suicide in Rome. The music is said to be raw and raucous, in contrast to the more subdued sound of "Unplugged."

There's one potential wild card, though: the sometimes volatile Love, who has equal say with Grohl and Novoselic in Nirvana matters. She has not as yet given any direct input on the upcoming album or even heard the tracks as assembled. However, her artists and repertoire representative at Geffen Records, Mark Kates, also serves as Nirvana's A&R rep and has kept her apprised of the project's progress. A representative of her management said that Love was on vacation and unreachable.

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