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From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah

1 rating: 5.0
An album by Nirvana (US)

Nirvana: Kurt Cobain (guitar, vocals); Pat Smear (guitar, background vocals); Krist Novoselic (bass); Dave Grohl (drums, background vocals); Chad Channing (drums). Compilation producers: Krist Novoselic, Dave Grohl. Recorded live between 1989 and 1994. … see full wiki

1 review about From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah

Muddy and Raw: PURE NIRVANA!

  • May 2, 2004
Pros: Kurt sounds very passionate

Cons: The bad feeling you get helping record companies trivialize Kurt's suicide

The Bottom Line: So THIS is the state aspired to by Buddhists

Yes, Kurt Cobain was disturbed. But anyone who’s heard his work still can’t deny the man had a powerful set of pipes on him. What better way to show off Kurt’s pipes - and make some quick dough capitalizing on his suicide - than to release a live album after his death?

From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah - wherever or whatever that is - comes From the Muddy Bnks of the Wishkah, one of the best live albums ever produced, and also defining proof that Kurt Cobain still can’t get any privacy. Perhaps an ironic footnote is the album slip, which has an essay written by Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic. I could write the remainder of this review about how Krist has absolutely no respect for Kurt, but it just wouldn’t be right. This is a music review, and Krist actually does write with respect for Kurt, the music, and Nirvana in general.

The only disrespectful part of From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah is the cute little intro. The only audible parts of the intro before Kurt’s screeching his lungs out are a few quick bass riffs and someone saying “I’ve never seen anything like it.” It’s a waste of almost a minute, really. But once the vocals show up in the intro, they roll very smoothly into the opening guitar riff of the first actual song, a generally forgotten bit from Bleach called School.

Won’t you believe it? Just my luck
No recess
You’re in high school again

My most recent essay was a quick page about the flawed part of Kurt Cobain. In it, I mentioned my disdain toward Bleach. Bleach has a few representations on From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah: School, Negative Creep, and Blew are among Wishkah’s 17 tracks. None of them have the flat, generic punk sound heard on Bleach. Instead, they all sound very lively and powerfulas Kurt passionately grinds away on his guitar and yowls in his trademark screech.

Nevermind has five tracks represented and, surprise surprise, Smells Like Teen Spirit is NOT the best of them. Drain You and Polly are both superior, with the best representation of Nevermind award going to the awesome big rock show version of Polly. All the owners of Nevermind and MTV Unplugged in New York have heard the original version of Polly, but the Wishkah version blows them all away for two simple reasons: The electric guitar and fiercer vocals (the original version of Polly was acoustic and featured calm vocals.) Lithium and Breed are the final two Nevermind songs, and the version of Lithium is really something of a letdown. In the sleeve, Krist Novoselic talks about one show in which the audience, in unison, sings along with it. However, that was not the version on From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah. The Wishkah version is just a typical live showing of Lithium.

Scentless Apprentice, Heart-Shaped Box, Milk It, and tourette’s are live from In Utero. When In Utero was first released, Kurt described it as a throwback to Nirvana’s original, more experimental roots, not the kind of thing Nevermind-lovers would really appreciate. Listening to Wishkah, one would really be hard-pressed to tell the difference, but Kurt really seems to let out more on the In Utero songs than anything else. Milk It and tourette’s have perhaps the loudest vocals on Wishkah - Kurt sings them as if he just slammed his hand in his car door.

Loudest vocals and most powerful vocals are two different things though, and the songs with the most powerful vocals are Heart-Shaped Box and an Incestiside track called Sliver. Heart-Shaped Box starts off sounding like some kind of dark power ballad, and speeds up a little for the hook, in which Kurt forgoes the screaming in favor of a very effective growling. Sliver starts off with Kurt singing in his indoor voice to a few bass notes, but it soon switches gears as he just lets it all out, guitar pounding, singing in a way which would make most other peoples’ lungs explode.

I’ve hit on all of the noteworthy stuff, and normally I would use this paragraph to close out the review. But now I should talk about what’s not here, as three popular Nirvana tunes have gone MIA: About a Girl, All Apologies, and Come as You Are both fail to appear on From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah. Even the acoustic versions of any or all songs would have sufficed - especially for About a Girl, which sounded awful on Bleach but wonderful on MTV Unplugged in New York. Any version of Come as You Are or All Apologies would have done the trick. Both are great songs on their respective albums and MTV Unplugged in New York.

Done now. NOW it’s time to close out this review. Kurt Cobain was a man who lived the pain he brought into his music. While you may feel bad about giving record companies money to capitalize on his suicide, just remember: YOU are doing it for the music. And so was Kurt.


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From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah
Label: DGC (David Geffen Company) (USA)
Artist: Nirvana (US)
Release Date: October 01, 1996

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