Nirvana, In Utero

We’ve just started using new printers for the 33 1/3 books (in Canada, no less!), and today we received advance copies of a couple of the first ones. They look good, and they even smell vaguely Canadian.

So, the first book is Gillian G. Gaar’s, about In Utero. It should be on sale in all the regular 33 1/3 stores in 2-3 weeks, or you can pre-order it on here.

It’s one of the more straightforward books in the series, and I love the calmness with which Gillian describes the album’s rather messy conception and birth. Here’s a short passage from Chapter 6, “The In Utero Sessions”:


Then there was another go at “Sappy.” It was a very unusual choice for the sessions, as the group hadn’t played the song live since November 1990 (and after these sessions they would only play it a further three times). This version was the most fully produced band version of the song, slightly shorter than previous band versions, with a faster tempo and a noticeably stronger drum part. This version also begins without the instrumental intro on some of the earlier versions.

As for why the song was again revisited, Novoselic says simply, “We liked to play that song. I put that bass line together four years before that, and I thought it was really great, so I never changed it. It seems like nobody ever changed anything else on it, either. You can hear older versions of, like, ‘Lithium’ or whatever, the bass lines are different, or the guitars, or something’s different. But why is it that this song, every time we recorded it, everybody did everything exactly the same? Well, I was totally happy with it, so why change it?”

Actually, the song was not “exactly the same” each time the group recorded it. There were always some variations – the Albini version featured a different guitar solo in the instrumental break, and was in a different key – though they were admittedly minor ones. And there still remained some dissatisfaction with it, as “Sappy” didn’t appear on any of the proposed track listings for the album. “I actually think it’s a pretty good song,” is Albini’s summation. “I don’t remember it being bad. But I think it wore out its welcome on the band, apparently.”


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