Thursday, October 23, 2008

Damn fine listening material: Nirvana, Trick Or Treat, 1991

There's no better rock & roll fantasy than a small time band on the verge of newfound stardom with an exploding album, headlining for a hometown crowd. This was the scenario Halloween night 1991, days after Nevermind had quickly gone gold; Seattle's Paramount Theatre was witness to a now truly powerful band. Professionally filmed by Geffen, but shelved as a possible movie release, footage was used for the "Lithium" video, and the feature-length Live Sold Out, while audio clips were used as B-sides; later, "Negative Creep" appeared on the posthumous From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah live compilation. Nirvana's excellent performance, matching sound quality, along with a killer set list, makes Trick or Treat a historically relevant recording. Crushing versions of "Breed," "Negative Creep," "Blew" and "Aneurysm" are interspersed with the exuberance and beauty of "Lithium," "About a Girl" and "Been a Son." Manufactured in Italy, KTS bootlegs have a fine reputation for premium sound quality and packaging -- the only flaw anywhere is the spelling of the opener, "Jesus Doesn't Want Me for a Sunbeam." Bassist Krist Novoselic was the mouthpiece of the evening, chiding the crowd that only two percent of the audience dressed in costume, unless they were all supposed to be punk rockers, and later commenting that "there's more cameras in here than in a 7-11." Dave Grohl's bombastic yet tight, precise drumming should draw comparisons to Black Sabbath's Bill Ward and Led Zeppelin's John Bonham. Foremost on display though is Kurt Cobain's piercing, guttural voice and the amazing simplicity of his words and music that mesmerized millions. Simply put, this is the '90s equivalent of the Who's Live at Leeds, caught at a revolutionary peak before a haze of drugs, creative pressure, media meddling and the "Sid and Nancy syndrome" ultimately led to Cobain's death, blackening but securing Nirvana's legacy. ~ Craig Curtice, All Music Guide

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