Despite its tremendous influence on the mainstream rock that followed, it's hard to think of another album that sounds much like Nirvana's Nevermind, a record with so much more pop and punk punch than any music it inspired. Of course, no diamond-certified, canonical treasure hitting the two-decade mark can be left well enough alone in 2011-- especially one that changed the lives of a lot people now approaching middle age, with the discretionary income to prove it. After all, "super deluxe" reissues of classic albums don't even have to be tied to an anniversary these days. But Nevermind is 20 this week, still a pretty respectable number in a world where any milestone marks an excuse to shift a few more units. The only question is whether these reissues-- a single-disc remaster, a 2xCD "deluxe" version, and a 4xCD+DVD "super-deluxe" edition-- are that rare essential repurchase that makes you hear an album you've possibly exhausted in new ways, or if it's just another mediocre jumble of odds and ends that inadvertently reveals the flaws and blemishes carefully excised from the original 12-song set.
The songs only on the original are a little less interesting now than they were then-- a year after Kurt Cobain, riffing on an English pressure cooker ad, noted that "taste is subjective". And even the claims to authenticity are hard to believe, with the sleeve's poster, the CD's inner paper store, and the track-by-track liner notes leading readers into a herd of faux-historical diversions. Which isn't to say that Nevermind can't be played it's profound way, or that it isn't still worth owning. It is. But on the other hand, weighing all these concerns against the eye-catching title, the big red cover, and the showy four-CD box, is it really a good idea to venerate a guilty pleasure in the same manner that your kids venerate their latest iPhone? Only time will tell how much faith to put in the figureheads recasting the songs-- notably, the singer from the Norwegian pop-punk outfit Hole. She plays the entire album in a distracted manner, and even the real thing too, often forgetting riffs and ideas she's clearly been practicing for years. d2c66b5586