The 5th Dimension: Nirvana

Welcome to the first instalment of The 5th Dimension! On the 5th of every month we will present a list of five things that we love about music. And today being the 17th anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s death we have chosen to honour the skinny dude with a big heart with a list which celebrates Nirvana’s five finest moments. Read, watch, enjoy, debate!

1. Perhaps one of the saddest gigs of all time, and the finest live album ever recorded, MTV Unplugged In New York gave the world’s most in-demand rock band the chance to plug out the electric guitars, sit down and run through some acoustic material. Instead of opting for a Best Of Nirvana: Unplugged, the band handpicked the songs which they felt worked best in a more stripped back environment and played a handful of phenomenal cover versions too. Nirvana the folk band? Could have been the greatest chapter of their flawless career.

2. The band’s infamous festival performance at Reading 1992 has gone down as one of the greatest live performances of all time. Coming out on stage in a white gown, blonde wig and a wheelchair, Cobain mocked those who questioned his physical and mental health and then launched into one of the most gargantuan performances of the band’s career.

3. Nevermind will always bother the upper echelons of Greatest Albums Ever lists, but most Nirvana fans will tell you that In Utero is their best. Much less polished than Nevermind, which is a pop album after all, In Utero possesses a visceral grunge sound and contained some of Kurt’s most unnerving lyrics and rawest vocal performances. An album full of disturbing imagery, guitar feedback and Dave Grohl at his brutish best.

4. That song. Any 15 year old starting a band will probably have their first ever jam to that song. ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ isn’t so much a snippet of grunge folklore, but a genuine rock and rock religious relic. Simple chords, indistinct and obtuse lyrics and a song pattern meant to rip off Pixies; it changed rock music forever.

5. The biggest falsehood about Nirvana is that they are depressing and over-serious; it’s just not the case. The band often poked fun at themselves and others with a real twinkle in their eye. The video for ‘In Bloom’ is a perfect parody of 1960’s televised variety shows and their Top Of The Pops performance is now infamous. But my personal favourite is when the band appeared on Jonathon Ross’ Channel 4 show scheduled to play single ‘Lithium’ and instead opted for a raucous performance of the punky sonic assault ‘Territorial Pissings’.