Kurt cobain: Montage of Heck Review
I was nearly 6 years old when the news broke that Nirvana front man Kurt Cobain was found dead at his home in Seattle, Washington. Even at that young age I remember seeing footage of his house and fans gathered outside to mourn his loss. I didn't become a fan of Nirvana until I was old enough to appreciate their music but April 8, 1994 always stuck with me as I grew up.
When an artist passes at the prime of their career or any time for that matter, the subject of unreleased material is always brought up before anyone has the time to mourn. Not long after Michael Jackson's passing the Jackson estate signed an exclusive deal with Sony Music to release songs that I'm sure the pop icon wouldn't of liked to be heard. Unreleased music always intrigues fans, and fans of Nirvana are no exception.
It took years and several court cases to release the last known Nirvana song "You Know You're Right" in 2002. 2004 saw the release of the 3-disc/DVD box set "With the Lights Out" that contained unreleased demos, b-sides, live recordings and rehearsals. As the years passed on, I had this gut feeling there was more that wasn't being heard. Sure enough, I was right.
2015 saw the release of the "official" documentary on the life of Kurt Cobain, titled "Montage of Heck". It was an unorthodox look into the grunge icon's life that was hard to watch at times to see the realities of drug abuse. While I enjoyed the documentary for what it was, the music that played in the background caught my interest. Sure enough, they were home recordings made by Cobain. Fans demanded a release of these recordings, and Universal Music did just that with "Montage of Heck: The Home Recordings".
"Montage of Heck: The Home Recordings" was released in two editions: the 13-track standard edition and the 31-track deluxe edition. The standard edition consists of the more "fully-formed" recordings while the deluxe edition includes the standard edition tracks as well as other oddity babblings that Cobain made. These songs were made on Cobain's time off and likely were never intended to be released. Most of the songs are raw and far from perfect. That doesn't mean that this release is not worth a listen.
Kurt Cobain is notoriously known for his raw vocal performance and guitar playing. To hear these home recordings gives the listener a different look into the creative process of Cobain, even if he was just messing around. "Yodel Song" is a perfect example of this. "Yodel Song" starts off very...well...not what you'd expect. Again, these are home recordings. To hear early demos of "Been a Son", "Scoff", "Sappy" and "Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle" I found to be rather enjoyable to see the beginnings of said songs that Nirvana fans know and love to this day.
The highlight of "Montage of Heck" for me has to be Cobain's somber acoustic take on The Beatles song "And I Love Her". If there's a shining moment on this collection it would be this 2 minute song. Cobain delivers a hauntingly beautiful take on a classic. While the standard edition comprises of the best of these home recordings, I found the deluxe edition hard to listen to. In between the weird songs like "1988 Capitol Lake Jam Commercial" and "Montage of Kurt" to name a few, I hear a musical inspiration I look up to who's clearly not entirely "there" if you get my drift.
"Montage of Heck: The Home Recordings" will be a hit and miss for Nirvana fans. The early demos of now classic Nirvana songs are a treat to listen to with the highlight being The Beatles cover. Even in this raw form of recording, the talent of Kurt Cobain shines. The standard edition is worth a listen or two while the deluxe edition I highly recommend with caution. The beauty of music is that it lives on long after the artist has gone and the impact of Kurt Cobain and his musical genius will always remain. We miss you Kurt and thank you for the music.