Since it was recently announced that In Utero is going to get the re-release treatment, I felt it would be appropriate to review this unofficial DVD I received a while back. As hardcore Nirvana fans know, Nevermind is the album that gets all the attention and there are several publications and documentaries that go into this album. But if you’re looking for the same thing with their third record, this is as close as you’re going to come. It’s not the best Nirvana documentary, but there are little things about it that make it one of the better unofficial DVD’s out there.
As is usual with anything related to the band, the documentary opens with several journalists and one “Nirvana expert” talking about the band’s beginnings and which underground bands influenced their sound. They even go on to talk about their first two albums. I guess it’s fine that they set up some band history for anyone unfamiliar with them, but at this point it feels really unnecessary. Rather than spending 15 minutes going into band history, they could’ve spent that time discussing more about the album at hand. But this opening part is kind of cool because we get to hear from Kurt’s friend Slim Moon, his old girlfriend Tracy Marander, and even Chad Channing, the original Nirvana drummer.
What sets this unofficial release apart from others is that it actually features the music and live footage of the bands they refer to. Usually with these releases, the most that they’ll have related to the band is some pictures, maybe some slow motion camera footage without sound. But here we get clips of the songs from In Utero, along with lots of live footage from their MTV New Year’s Eve show. There’s even live footage of influential bands The Pixies, Black Flag, and Sonic Youth. While it’s not the best looking or even rarest footage around, it’s nice to see and hear some Nirvana footage on something that’s about the band.
When discussion about the album starts, it’s pretty standard stuff. There are some great studio stories from producer Jack Endino, but otherwise we don’t hear from anyone else who worked on the record. Even though it’s asking for too much, it would’ve been great to hear from Dave, Krist, or Steve Albini, but I don’t think they would even talk about the album today. Also, when they start to breakdown every song they really only talk about their own interpretations and what they think songs are about, which is interesting in itself, but they never go into the difficult recording process or how the band was starting to fall apart at this time. The journalists do bring up some good points about certain songs, but they don’t go deeper into the album.
What I didn’t like about the film was they completely dismiss the second half of the record. They make it a point to go through the first six songs making you think they’re going to talk about every track here, but they decide to only talk about three songs from the second half of the album. Rather they talk about “All Apologies” and how it relates to Cobain’s death. They even spend about five minutes talking about the impact that his death had on the music world, which seems unnecessary at this point. It’s interesting how they all point out what an unconventional record In Utero was, yet they proceed to only talk about the most accessible and conventional songs on the album. It would’ve been more interesting if we could hear something about each song on the release.
Overall, it gets 7/10. It’s not the best Nirvana related documentary out there; if anything it makes you long for an official documentary about the recording process and content of the album. But if you’re looking to add to your Nirvana collection and can find this DVD for cheap, then I would say to pick it up. It’s interesting to at least watch once, but it’s not something that you would watch anytime when you’re bored. Maybe with the re-release of the album we will finally get a proper DVD for this album.