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20th Anniversary Edition
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In Utero - 20th Anniversary Remaster
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Audio, Cassette, Explicit Lyrics, September 21, 1993
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To say that Nirvana's third and ultimately final studio album In Utero was 1993's most polarizing record would be the understatement of a decade. The unadorned sonic rawness of Steve Albini's recording laid bare every primal nuance of the most confrontational yet vulnerable material Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl would ever record. And with its 1991 predecessor Nevermind having sold some 30 million copies, singlehandedly returning honest rock 'n' roll to the top of the pop charts, In Utero was essentially the first record Nirvana would make with any expectations from the public. So from the opening quasi-shamble melodics of 'Serve The Servants' through the bittersweet closing strains of 'All Apologies,' In Utero was the sound of the most incredible yet conflicted rock 'n' roll band of the era at the peak of its powers coming to terms with a generational spokes-band mantle they'd never seen coming-and ultimately surmounting these struggles to make the record they needed to make. As Rolling Stone's David Fricke said in his review at the time, 'In Utero is a lot of things-brilliant, corrosive, enraged and thoughtful, most of them all at once. But more than anything, it's a triumph of the will.'
This 20th Anniversary 3LP Edition of the unwitting swansong of the single most influential band of the 1990s, features the original album remastered at Abbey Road Studios on 2 LPs and for the first time available at high fidelity 45 RPM, plus a 33 1/3 RPM LP of all the remastered B-sides, never-before-heard mixes and bonus tracks from the original album release. All 3 LPs are on 180 gram vinyl.
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I directly A/B'ed the Blu Ray and CD, both playing at the same time with the same song, switching back and forth, and my conclusion is that the difference between formats on this remaster is incredibly subtle. I've been a fan of high rez digital formats for a few years now- SACD, DVD-A, downloads from HD tracks, and now this format. I don't mean this as a diss on the record or the remastering job, just that the CD sounds really almost as good and I had to listen hard (with headphones) to really make out the difference in detail- you can just barely hear it in the drums, more body and depth in the snare. What you're hearing with this is the difference between a file at this resolution versus the dithered CD. Unfortunately the mix and master of this record is a bit too slamming to really show off the revealing details of the higher rez format unless you really listen for it.
Another reason I'd give it two stars, though, is because it doesn't contain the 2013 Albini mix that was a truly awesome listen on the CD. It's a much more dynamic, stripped down mix, and I'd love to hear it here. There's no reason why it couldn't have been included alongside the original album on the same disc.
I already own various versions of In Utero so I got this to have a complete collection. What is unique about this particular version is there is a remixed version of the album. I don't know if that was the version that was discarded when the album was recorded (if you don't know the history, record executives at Geffen/DGC didn't like the album and wanted Nirvana to re-record it) or if it was done after the fact.
While interesting, it's still a bit strange hearing alternate versions of the songs I've already been listening to for 20 years. If you are a huge Nirvana fan this is must-have to complete your collection, otherwise I'd recommend sticking with the regular version of the album.
There's a click in the right channel just before the 1st verse on Heart Shaped Box that really bugs me. It sounds clearly like a digital artifact and not part of the performance. Out of the 3 versions of heart shaped box on these discs I think it's on 2. The original release of course does not have the click.
Really a great album, remastered and reimagined. Thank you, Steve Albini, for not ruining this great album, unlike the remaster of Nevermind.