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|Released||June 15, 1989|
|Studio||Reciprocal Recording in Seattle, Washington|
|Genre||Grunge, noise rock, hardcore punk|
Bleach was the debut album by Nirvana. It was released June 15, 1989 by the label Sub Pop.
Most of the songs feature themes based on life in Aberdeen, Washington, U.S., a small working class town where songwriter Kurt Cobain grew up. Lyrically the album is less surreal and nonsensical than much of what came after.
Musically the album is heavily influenced by early Black Sabbath, the heavy dirge rock of The Melvins and Mudhoney, and the hardcore of Black Flag and Minor Threat. Kurt has even said that the band listened to Swiss extreme metallers Celtic Frost before recording the album.
The band's punk rock roots are most evident on "Negative Creep" though there is little trace of the direction they would later go in. "School" is about the Seattle Scene at the time, comparing it to high school; the song's lyrics consist of only four lines.
"Floyd The Barber" is a short song with a simple two-note riff about an alternate-reality version of the Andy Griffith Show where the characters are serial rapists & murderers. "Paper Cuts" is partially based on a true story of a family in Aberdeen, Washington that kept their children isolated in a windowless room, opening the door only to feed them; the song also references Kurt's alienation from his mother.
"Love Buzz", Nirvana's first single, is a cover of a Shocking Blue song and "About A Girl" displays the quiet/loud dynamic of the Pixies and Dinosaur Jr., a dynamic Nirvana would later make their own.
"Downer" was only included on CD versions of the album. Some international versions of Bleach also lack the song. As a result, the band added the track to their 1992 compilation Incesticide.
In the U.S., the album was released on Sub Pop (Catalog: SP-34). The first 1,000 copies were pressed on white vinyl, the next 2,000 on black vinyl, and all subsequent pressings were on assorted colored vinyl. The first 3,000 copies of the record came with a poster, featuring Jason Everman.
In the UK the record was released via Tupelo Records (Catalog: TUPLP6), and later Geffen Records (Catalog:GEF-24433). The first 300 Tupelo copies were pressed on white vinyl, the next 2,000 copies were on dark green vinyl.
In Australia the LP was released on Waterfront Records (DAMP114) and later issued on various colored covers and colored vinyl before it was deleted in late 1992.
Sub Pop released a remastered version of the album on CD and cassette in April 1992.
Re-released in 2009 on white vinyl for the 20th anniversary of bleach.
Three of the songs that appear on Bleach ("Floyd the Barber", "Paper Cuts", and "Downer") were recorded at Reciprocal Studios on January 23, 1988 with Dale Crover on drums. This session cost only $152.44 and was paid for with money Cobain had saved up from his janitorial job and a loan from Tracy Marander, his then-girlfriend. This was also the first collaboration with Nirvana and Jack Endino, a producer seminal in the establishment of the "Seattle Sound."
The other songs on Bleach were recorded at the Reciprocal Recording Studios in Seattle, Washington for $606.17 and a sandwich, by Jack Endino, in 1988.
"Love Buzz" was released backed with "Big Cheese" in October 1988, as Sub Pop's first "Single of the Month." The version of "Love Buzz" on the single has a different mix than the album version, and features a sound collage by Kurt Cobain. Only 1000 copies of this single were pressed, each individually hand numbered, making it very sought after by Nirvana fans. In addition to the numbered copies 100-200 more unnumbered copies exist. Most of them include a red slash where the number is on the official copies.
"Blew" was released through Tupelo Records in December 1988 with "Love Buzz", "Been a Son" and "Stain". The EP/Single was intended to be released to promote an upcoming European tour, but this was scrapped, and "Blew" ended up being released exclusively in the UK shortly after its completion. This single is difficult to obtain anywhere else than the UK, for good reason. "Blew" had only 3,000 copies pressed on 12" vinyl records and audio CDs. Counterfeit copies exist also, as the vinyl was only printed on black, while those were printed in color.
"Stain" from the album "Blew" was written by Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic.
Track listing Edit
(All songs by Kurt Cobain unless otherwise noted)
- "Blew" – 2:54 – Lyrics
- "Floyd the Barber" – 2:17 – Lyrics
- "About a Girl" – 2:48 – Lyrics
- "School" – 2:42 – Lyrics
- "Love Buzz" (Shocking Blue cover) (Robbie van Leeuwen) – 3:35 – Lyrics
- "Paper Cuts" – 4:05 – Lyrics
- "Negative Creep" – 2:55 – Lyrics
- "Scoff" – 4:10 – Lyrics
- "Swap Meet" – 3:02 – Lyrics
- "Mr. Moustache" – 3:23 – Lyrics
- "Sifting" – 5:22 – Lyrics
- "Big Cheese" – 3:42 – Lyrics
- "Downer" – 1:42 (Only appears on the CD version of "Bleach") – Lyrics
- Kurt Cobain - vocals, guitar
- Krist Novoselic - bass guitar
- Chad Channing- drums
- Jason Everman- guitar (Did not play on album. He only paid for the recording.)
- Kurt once stated that he hated the way this album turned out.
- The working title for "Bleach" was "Too Many Humans".