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Remembering the Music, Not the Aftermath

September 08, 1996|Robert Hilburn

No one in rock seems to keep quiet forever, but one topic continues to be off-limits for former Nirvana members Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl: their personal feelings about the band's leader, Kurt Cobain.

Novoselic and Grohl turned down hundreds of media requests for interviews after Cobain's suicide in the spring of 1994 and they have kept their silence on the topic since, even though Grohl has done dozens of interviews in behalf of his new band, the Foo Fighters.

When Novoselic agreed to write the liner notes for the upcoming live Nirvana album, however, fans sensed a break. What better time for the bassist, who met Cobain while they were both teenagers in Aberdeen, Wash., to express his feelings than in the context of Nirvana's music?

In the liner notes for "From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah," which will be released Oct. 1 by Geffen Records, Novoselic goes into detail about the circumstances surrounding the recording of the songs.

But he still takes the high road.

Possibly fearing that any remarks would be seen as exploitative, Novoselic still doesn't talk about Cobain.

Some of the comments do suggest that he still marvels at the way Nirvana went from being an underground group to an international sensation. The liner notes begin by reflecting on the innocence of the group's early days: "We played for two years before the release of [the debut album] 'Bleach' in June 1989. At that time, live shows were our bread and butter. . . . We'd hit the road for months at a time . . . coming back with one or two grand . . . to be split three ways. In those days, that was about as much 'success' as we thought possible."

You can also sense in his closing remarks a slight resentment over how the Nirvana music has sometimes been lost in the focus on the band's success and Cobain's death.

"In presenting this record, we hope that the ultimate allure of Nirvana (and especially Kurt) as well as the passion that we had--and have--for the music we made is once again brought to the forefront.

"Let all the analysis fall away like yellow, aged newsprint. Crank this record up and realize the bliss, power and passion . . . TOTAL NIRVANA!"

Though Nirvana did an "MTV Unplugged" live album, it was an acoustic-leaning affair that didn't capture the startling intensity of the group live.

"I always thought there should be a live album," says Mark Kates, a Geffen Records artists and repertoire man who worked with Nirvana. "They weren't heard enough or seen enough in that loud, intense and howling context."

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