Everything you always wanted to know about Nirvana . . . and a lot you didn’t.
Despite their relatively small recorded output, Nirvana put together a catalogue worthy of time-capsule placement alongside The Beatles, Miles Davis, Led Zeppelin and James Brown, which is why you can almost justify a 500-plus-page study of the band. Since veteran rock journalist and Cobain intimate True was a grunge insider, one would assume that his doorstop of a book would present insights and factoids somehow missed in Michael Azerrad’s fine Come as You Are (1993) and Charles R. Cross’s excellent Heavier Than Heaven (2001). Azerrad and Cross, though, didn’t miss much. This new entry is a rehash bulked up by 200-or-so pages of insider gossip and True’s self-serving I-was-there digressions. The author gets points for experimenting with form and format (oddball footnotes and non-linear asides that almost come off as dream sequences), but it makes for a frustrating read: Think Lester Bangs meets Mark Z. Danielewski. The author is a fine musical analyst, offering up solid evaluation and reevaluation of virtually every note that Nirvana ever played. Many of the anecdotes about random debauchery, ear- and soul-shattering concerts and recording-studio drama make for enjoyably voyeuristic reading. But the this-one-slept-with-that-one-and-that-one-got-wasted-with-this-one material becomes tiresome long before even the halfway point. The innumerable Nirvana fanatics will snap this up, but the more serious-minded are better off sticking with Azerrad and Cross.
An numbingly comprehensive biography strictly for the obsessed.