(Editor's note: I'm somewhere around 90% certain that "Spin Magazine" will sue my shit if I post the cover song that I am going to discuss in this post. As such, you get no "mp3" to "download" here. But I'm not going to get you all hot and bothered for a track and leave you hanging. If you want the whole Nirvana cover record, all you have to do is like Spin on your Faceboooks. Easy, peasy, lemon squeezy. If you'd just like the Vaselines' song that is the principle focus of this post, you can snag that at Cover Me. If you think I'm a bit of a puss for not posting the track, you can eat a bag. Last thing I need is a global media empire eating my lunch.)
I've got some opinions about this Spin Nirvana cover record. Thanks to God that I've got an internet music forum in which to air them.
1.) You and me, we're old. Spin is giving away covers of every song on Nevermind because that record came out twenty years ago. That means it came out when this fall's crop of traditional college freshman were negative one. When I was a college freshman, a record that came out twenty years prior was The Clash. The fucking first one. In England. So, yeah, we're old.
2.) The Meat Puppets and The Vaselines are probably the only bands with sufficient juice to do credible Nevermind covers. The Meat Puppets cover "Smells Like Teen Spirit." The Vaselines cover "Lithium." Wavves doesn't pull that shit off. Part of the reason that most of the cover album is shit is that the bands that are playing the songs don't have the street cred to get it done. I like Surfer Blood. I like Titus Andronicus. I don't think either of those bands can carry Nirvana's jock. They also both fall into a classical cover trap. If you stick to the script, it's boring. If you do your own thing, it's sacrilege. Jimi Hendrix is the only person who gets to dabble with "All Along the Watchtower," right? Both the Meat Puppets and Vaselines' covers are awesome. The Meat Puppets mess about with the guitar and drum parts, but keep that bass line the same. They diddle with your expectation (and, as is their wont, make it weird), but it's still recognizably the song that we all know. The Vaselines never let "Lithium" get loud. It's pretty awesome. In that all it cost me was a flick of the "like" button, the Vaselines' interpretation of "Lithium" made the whole enterprise worthwhile. I'll (almost certainly) never listen to any of the other tracks again. (Especially the Jessica Lea Mayfield take on "Lounge Act." That's enough to drive you to a monastery.). I've got the originals and they're really, really good (criticism alert: Nirvana was good). I'll come back to that Vaselines track though. Makes you think. A lot.
3.) As much as I love the two covers described above, they wouldn't be a blip on anybody's radar if they were originals. The Meat Puppets and The Vaselines do not make hash of Cobain et al.'s work. In fact, their efforts are respectable, if not objectively good. That said, I don't think it means anything that "Lithium" never gets loud if you didn't know that "Lithium" is supposed to get loud. Mrs. Citizen and I talked around this for something like twenty minutes. It's good, but you wouldn't quit your job if the Vaselines' cut was the original. You listen to the cover and you're thinking, when are they gonna step on the pedal and make it loud? It's interesting because they never do. Just saying.