This Day In Music - 25th September
September 25, 2012 @ 09:00 am
This Day in 1993, Nirvana went to No.1 on the UK album chart with 'In Utero' the bands first UK No.1 album.
In Utero is the third and final studio album by the American grunge band Nirvana, released on September 13, 1993, on DGC Records. Nirvana intended the record to diverge significantly from the polished production of its previous album, Nevermind (1991). To capture a more abrasive and natural sound, the group hired producer Steve Albini to record In Utero during a two-week period in February 1993 at Pachyderm Studio in Cannon Falls, Minnesota. The music was recorded quickly with few studio embellishments, and the song lyrics and album packaging incorporated medical imagery that conveyed frontman Kurt Cobain's outlook on his publicized personal life and his band's newfound fame.
Soon after recording was completed, rumors circulated in the press that DGC might not release the album in its original state, as the record label felt that the result was not commercially viable. Although Nirvana publicly denied the statements, the group was not fully satisfied with the sound Albini had captured. Albini declined to alter the album further, and ultimately the band hired Scott Litt to make minor changes to the album's sound and remix the singles "Heart-Shaped Box" and "All Apologies".
Upon release, In Utero entered the Billboard 200 chart at number one and received critical acclaim as a drastic departure from Nevermind. The record has been certified five times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America, and has sold 3.58 million copies in the United States alone.
In Utero was released on September 13, 1993 in the United Kingdom, and on September 14 in the United States; it was initially only available in vinyl record and cassette tape formats, with the American vinyl pressing limited to 25,000 copies. Although the album was issued on Compact Disc in the UK on September 14, a full domestic release did not occur until September 21.In Utero debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 album chart, selling 180,000 copies in its first week of release.Meanwhile, retail chain stores Wal-Mart and Kmart refused to sell the album. According to The New York Times, Wal-Mart claimed it did not carry the album due to lack of consumer demand, while Kmart representatives explained that the album "didn't fit within our merchandise mix". In truth, both chains feared that customers would be offended by the artwork on the album's back cover. DGC issued a new version of the album with reworked packaging to the stores in March 1994. This version featured edited album artwork, and listed the name of "Rape Me" as "Waif Me".A spokesperson for Nirvana explained that the band decided to edit the packaging because as kids Cobain and Novoselic were only able to buy music from the two chain stores; as a result they "really want to make their music available to kids who don't have the opportunity to go to mom-and-pop stores".
In Utero received acclaim from critics, although some reviews were mixed. Time's Christopher John Farley stated in his review of the album, "Despite the fears of some alternative-music fans, Nirvana hasn't gone mainstream, though this potent new album may once again force the mainstream to go Nirvana." Rolling Stone reviewer David Fricke gave the album four-and-a-half out of five stars and wrote, "In Utero is a lot of things – brilliant, corrosive, enraged and thoughtful, most of them all at once. But more than anything, it's a triumph of the will." Entertainment Weeklyreviewer David Browne (who gave the album a rating of B+) commented "Kurt Cobain hates it all", and noted that the sentiment pervades the record. Browne argued, "The music is often mesmerizing, cathartic rock & roll, but it is rock & roll without release, because the band is suspicious of the old-school rock cliches such a release would evoke." NME gave the album an eight out of ten rating. However, reviewer John Mulvey had doubts about the record; he concluded, "As a document of a mind in flux — dithering, dissatisfied, unable to come to terms with sanity — Kurt [Cobain] should be proud of [the album]. As a follow-up to one of the best records of the past ten years it just isn't quite there."Ben Thompson of The Independent commented that in spite of the album's more abrasive songs, "In Utero is beautiful far more often than it is ugly", and added, "Nirvana have wisely neglected to make the unlistenable punk-rock nightmare they threatened us with."In his consumer guide for The Village Voice, critic Robert Christgau gave In Utero an A− rating that he later changed to an A, indicating "a record that rarely flags for more than two or three tracks. Not every listener will feel what it's trying to do, but anyone with ears will agree that it's doing it". Several critics ranked In Utero as one of the best releases of the year. It placed first and second in the album categories of the Rolling Stone and Village Voice Pazz & Jop year-end critics' polls, respectively. Additionally, The New York Times included it on its list of the top ten albums of the year. The album was nominated for Best Alternative Music Album at the 1994 Grammy Awards.
That October, Nirvana embarked on its first American tour in two years to promote the album. A second single, a split release that featured "All Apologies" and "Rape Me", was issued in December in the United Kingdom.The band began a six-week European leg of the tour in February 1994, but it was cancelled after Cobain suffered a drug overdose in Rome on March 6.Cobain agreed to enter drug rehabilitation, but the singer went missing soon afterwards, and on April 8 he was found dead in his Seattle home as the result of suicide by a shotgun blast. The intended third single from In Utero, "Pennyroyal Tea", was cancelled in the wake of Cobain's death and the subsequent dissolution of Nirvana; limited promotional copies were released in Britain.Three days after Cobain's body was discovered, In Utero moved back up the Billboard charts, from number 72 to number 27.
In the ensuing years, In Utero has continued to perform commercially and gather critical praise. In a 2003 Guitar World article that commemorated the tenth anniversary of the album's release, Cobain biographer Charles R. Cross argued that In Utero was "a far better record [than Nevermind] and one that only 10 years later seems to be an influential seed spreader, judging by current bands. If it is possible for an album that sold four million copies to be overlooked, or underappreciated, then In Utero is that lost pearl." That same year, Pitchfork Media placed In Utero at number 13 on its list of the 100 best albums of the 1990s. In 2004 Blender ranked it at number 94 in its "100 Greatest American Albums of All Time" list, while in 2005, Spin placed it at number 51 on its "100 Greatest Albums 1985–2005" retrospective. Rolling Stone has ranked it at number 439 on its list "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time". In Utero has been certified five times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for shipments of over five million units,and has sold 3.58 million copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan
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