This week marks the twentieth anniversary of the death of Kurt Cobain. I don’t really want to talk about the details of that in particular, mainly because it will be written about to death elsewhere. I’d rather remember the fact that he was in a fantastic rock band and that he had equally impeccable taste in music. Seeing as his list of favorite albums was published in his Journals a few years back, I figured it would be fun to plunder that and let Kurt Cobain do a top five today instead of me.
Iggy and the Stooges – Raw Power
This album needs little introduction. The recent death of former member Scott Asheton gives us a second reason to remember this timeless, visceral blast of punk fury, but in truth, you shouldn’t need a reason to blast this out of your speakers. Opener “Search and Destroy” still sounds violent today and is the opening salvo of one of rock and roll’s most definitive statements.
Pixies – Surfer Rosa
Cobain once worried that when the world heard “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” they would see it as a flat-out Pixies rip-off. History treated that song differently, but fortunately The Pixies also emerged as American icons in their own right. I’ve already stated that they are my favorite band of all time, so I don’t need to say much more about that. Other than the fact that the drums on Surfer Rosa are the best-sounding drums you’ll ever hear.
The Breeders – Pod
I guess The Pixies weren’t the only Kim Deal band that Cobain had a huge thing for. Plenty out there will tell you The Breeders were even better than The Pixies. What isn’t up for debate is that Kim Deal somehow landed herself spots in two of indie rock’s royalty bands. Coincidence? I don’t think so. That’s just what happens when you’re Kim Deal, pretty much the coolest woman in rock.
The Vaselines – Son of a Gun (or the Pink EP)
Cobain’s love for Glaswegian indie band The Vaselines was open and well-documented. He covered two of their songs on Incesticide (including the title track of this very EP) and then covered a third song of theirs for Nirvana’s now legendary MTV Unplugged performance. The band’s reformation in recent years came with the realization that their underground reputation remains fully intact.
The Shaggs – Philosophy of the World
The Wiggin sisters of New Hampshire recorded just one album, which was released in 1969. Depending on your tolerance for mind-bendingly weird and dissonant folk rock music, this album might send you screaming for the hills. I guess Kurt Cobain had a sense of humor. Frank Zappa loved these girls as well. Make of that what you will.