No.5. Nirvana - Bleach.
Before the phenomenon that was Nirvana's 'Nevermind' there was "Bleach".
Unlike 'Nevermind' which transformed Kurt Cobain into a household name, made Seattle the centre of the rock universe and sold in the millions this was a little known record, and was famously recorded for just $606 - A fact proudly boasted on the cover-and sold just a few thousand copies. In light of the later superstardom that the band achieved, the question must be asked; was 'Bleach' an undiscovered piece of gold along the lines of 'Nevermind' and deserving of similar fame, or was it what one would expect from an album recorded for only $606? For those wanting a definitive answer, it is unfortunately both yes and no.
Why no? Well 'Bleach' does not contain obviously likeable songs such as 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' and 'Come as you Are', the only exception being 'About a Girl', a song bought to public attention by the band's MTV appearance. It is important to remember that at the time of this album (1989) Nirvana was merely a smalltime road band. This is clearly reflected in the album's other 12 songs; they are raw, loud and anything but catchy. For those that became fans of the band because of the instantly enjoyable 'Nevermind' this album would be a big disappointment.
So why yes? Well, not everyone was attracted to the band because of their well-crafted pop songs. While acknowledging and loving melodies like 'Teen Spirit', Nirvana seemed to offer so much more. For a start they were aggressive and very passionate about their music. And unlike the shallow product that so many bands seemed to be churning out, here was a band that played music simply for the love of it. As Cobain himself said "music is too important to me to [compromise]. In fact, there was a time when music was all that was important to me."
The real greatness of this album is twofold. Firstly, it allows the listener -albeit retrospectively- to speculate on Cobains' state of mind. He often stated that his lyrics were merely throwaway lines (his pixies tribute "Teen Spirit" being the most obvious example), but the song "Negative Creep" with its recurring line "I'm a negative creep and I'm stoned", seems to hint at more , as do several others on the record.
Secondly, this gives you the chance to here what would eveolve into the quintessential grunge band, a prototype Nirvana if you want, and that makes it unmissable for me.
If you liked the band rather than loved them, you might end up wondering what all the fuss is about-but if you felt the same way as I did about them, this is about as good as it gets.