fame. Compiled and sequenced by the band's surviving members, bassist Krist Novoselic and drummer Dave Grohl, From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah
is a proud reclamation of the fury, raw power and incredible songwriting that were all but buried under the crush of analysis that followed Cobain's untimely death.
It was not Cobain the artist but Cobain the young man who collapsed under the weight of stardom and his coronation as the voice of a generation, the savior of rock & roll. Still, when listening to the inspired performances on Muddy Banks, one can hardly believe that, by the end of his life, Cobain felt like a fraud, as though he was punching a clock each time he walked onstage. But then, drugs and depression are the ultimate deceivers. What actually comes across on this record is the bittersweet mix of rage and despondency in Cobain's raw exhortations, whether in the grinding pop of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" or the two-minute blast of "Sliver." Muddy Banks is not a tribute to a lost soul; it's a gift from his friends. Novoselic and Grohl have given Cobain one last opportunity to piss off your parents, wake the neighbors, blow out your car speakers and traumatize the family dog.
An electric live Nirvana disc was slated to be released in late 1994 as part of a double album with MTV Unplugged in New York, then canceled because Novoselic and Grohl were not yet emotionally ready to comb through so much Nirvana music. As it turns out, both Muddy Banks and Unplugged are strong enough to cut through any imposed legacy. But while the latter acoustic set is transcendental in its subdued conveyance of pain, Muddy Banks is its emotional, visceral flip side. It is riotous and liberating, showing Cobain, Novoselic and Grohl along with In Utero tour guitarist Pat Smear and, on the two '89 tracks "Polly" and "Breed," early drummer Chad Channing in their most natural state, smashing instruments and inducing irreversible tinnitus. Even "Teen Spirit" finds Cobain's guitar reeling outside the song's melodic boundaries and sparking new life in that nearly played-out hit. Listening to the roaring crowds pitted against Nirvana's flailing din, you have to wonder how a band this noisy ever got so fucking famous.
At the start of the record, Cobain's introductory shrieks are followed by a wandering Novoselic bass line and the warped groan