Kurt Cobain - Montage of Heck: The Home Recordings
I reviewed Montage of Heck: The Home Recordings…what I found was an experience equally as frustrating as it was interesting.
Produced to accompany the documentary film ‘Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck’, the compilation album Montage of Heck: The Home Recordings features early home recordings from grunge legend Kurt Cobain both before and during his reign as front-man of the band Nirvana.
As a long term fan of both Nirvana and Kurt himself, I approached the task of reviewing this collection of tracks with cautious optimism.
However, what I found was an experience equally as frustrating as it was interesting.
Let’s start with the positives. The Home Recordings features early demo versions of a few Nirvana songs many of us will find familiar, such as ‘Something in The Way’ and ‘Been a Son’. I’ve always been fascinated by the process songs go through from rough and raw ideas in the artist’s head to ballads we all know and love. With this in mind, it almost feels like a privilege to witness these early incarnations and begin to see the workings of Kurt’s creative mind.
In addition, the album also features many interesting tunes that are completely new to us and sadly never saw the light of day as a fully-fledged and produced song.
Some stand out examples of this being the screaming, chanting, utterly aggressive ‘Rehash’ and the uncharacteristically high vocal ranges of ‘What More Can I Say’.
With these songs in mind, one thing this collection does demonstrate is the musical talent Kurt possessed even when he was away from the crowds hanging on his words and swaying to his riffs.
There are also some glimpses into what could be a previously untapped carefree side of the artist. ‘The Happy Guitar’ for example features a folksy, tuneful and optimistic fingerpicking and strumming session unlike anything I’d heard Kurt demonstrate before.
Inescapably though, there are major flaws with this compilation.
I can summaries the flaw in one word: ‘Beans’. The track ‘Beans’ features Kurt singing a song about a man sitting naked who was extremely happy that he was eating beans…I wish I was joking.
It’s uncomfortably high pitched and utterly irritating, click below at your own risk
Although ‘Beans’ is a perfect example, it is by no means the only unnecessary addition to the compilation. Whether it’s the parts 1 and 2 of ‘Montage of Kurt’ in which he makes bizarre and random noises into a vocal synthesizer or the ‘1988 Capitol Lake Jam Commercial’ in which Kurt quotes word for word a commercial for the aforementioned concert.
Presumably, these recordings were supposed to be seen as an intimate glimpse of Kurt when he thinks no one is listening. I’m not buying into it though, judging by the numerous farting noises and just plain unfunny anecdotes, the people who put together the compilation were likely scraping the bottom of the barrel in terms of content.
A lot of the “tracks” just feel like recordings we weren’t meant to hear, not just because they are too personal but because they were only ever meant to be recording tests or random disposable shenanigans to begin with.
After the extremely erratic highs and lows of the compilation I have to say the overall effect it had on me was mostly negative. Yet more meat is being picked from Kurt Cobain’s bones and frankly it’s getting tiresome.
Written By Jordan Davidson