Kurt Cobain Solo Album Disappoints In First Week Sales

Kurt Cobain’s Montage of Heck: The Home Recordings, a soundtrack accompaniment to the documentary Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck released earlier this year, sold 5,000 copies in its first week on sale. While sales were low, the album did chart well on Billboard’s soundtracks chart, hitting number 1. The album also debuted at No. 6 on Alternative Albums, No. 11 on Top Rock Albums and No. 121 on the Billboard 200.

Read Otsy Gale’s review of the album for Alternative Nation below:

I had the privilege of receiving and reviewing an advance copy of the upcoming Kurt Cobain album Montage of Heck: The Home Recordings album for Alternative Nation. It’s basic, low-fi, and stripped down to the bare bones. It’s raw! The album jumps straight into Cobain’s psyche. From the opening strumming and mumbles on “The Yodel Song,” to the ever-angelic, elongated, work-in-progress take of “Do Re Mi,” the album is a trip inside of Cobain’s creative process. It even features a track that easily could have been a Nirvana pop hit.

Sound collage experiments like “Montage of Kurt I” & II,” “Kurt’s Audio Collage,” “Scream,” and “Kurt’s Ambiance” provide a sonic representation of what was written in Cobain’s journals. This is where noise rock experimental influences like William S. Burroughs (Kurt had read Naked Lunch after getting it in a bookstall in London while on tour), Sonic Youth, and Scratch Acid are evident.

The spoken-word comedy bits like the satirical advertisement for the “Capitol Lake Jam Commercial,” “Rhesus Monkey,” “Sea Monkeys,” “Underground Celebritism,” as well as “Aberdeen,” and “Beans” show the foray of Kurt’s genius at work, merging music with comedy.

Instrumental pieces like “Reverb Experiment,” with its intense feedback, sounds like an end-type jam at a Nirvana gig, as well as a homage to the Melvins. “Retreat,” “Letters To Frances,” and “The Happy Guitar” show off other styles of guitar playing that Kurt didn’t show off in live performances with his band Nirvana. This is a new kind of Kurt Cobain, as you’ve never heard him before.

The album also features acoustic demos of 5 songs, that would later be released on subsequent Nirvana albums, both live, and in the studio (“Been A Son,” “Scoff,” “Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle,” “Sappy,” “Something In the Way”).

Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck Super Deluxe Edition and Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck: The Home Recordings both include the highly anticipated soundtrack, an aural complement to the documentary in both concept and experience. Comprised from various early and raw cassette recordings made by Kurt alone, the soundtrack allows a rare, unfiltered glimpse into Cobain’s creative progression.

Track by Track

“The Yodel Song” – Starts off with a bit of mumbling, and then a chord progression, with mumbles/yodeling over the top. Recorded circa 1986 – 1988.

“Been A Son (Early Demo)”– Acoustic demo, with alternate lyrics, where Cobain first performs the song on guitar, and then performs the bass part.

“What More Can I Say?”– An acoustic/electric song, that was added in the limited theatrical re-release of the film in August 2015. Clocking in at 3 minutes, it’s a very formulaic song, and would’ve easily fit within the Nirvana repertoire in 1993/1994.

“1988 Capitol Lake Jam Commercial” – Cobain’s satirical and comedic take on the then-upcoming Capitol Lake Jam, using a multitude of voices. One was heard in “Beans” (the With The Lights Out Version), as well as another deeper voice.

“The Happy Guitar” is an instrumental that sounds like a theme from a 60’s television series set in Hawaii. This was first released on the Outcesticide bootleg series in 1994, under the title “Black and White Blues” (made by Bootleggers) albeit in inferior quality.

“Montage Of Kurt I” – Vocal experimentation featuring Kurt satirically talking about, among other things: Bong water, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, and other weird vocal abnormalities. It ends with weird squeaks from baby toys and guitar/pedal feedback.

“Beans” – From a recording in 1987/1988. Cobain uses his “chipmunk” voice again, as also featured within the 1988 Capitol Lake Jam track, as well as others. First released on the Outcesticide III: The Final Solution bootleg, albeit in inferior quality. Released again in 2004, on With The Lights Out. This is a sonic upgrade, and could be an alternate take/mix of the “song.”

“Burn The Rain” – Speculated to be recorded somewhere from 1987 – 1988, as evidenced on the tape that: “she’s not home right now” part in the Montage Of Heck film, where this comes from. At this time, Kurt was dating Tracy Marander.

“Clean Up Before She Comes (Early Demo)” – An earlier take of the song, than the one released on With The Lights Out. From c. 1987/1988 based on research provided by www.LiveNirvana.com.

“Reverb Experiment” – An instrumental piece of guitar feedback/distortion, with an over-use of the Polychorus reverb effects pedal. It sounds like an ode to both his contemporaries (The Melvins and Butthole Surfers) as well as a homage to The Grateful Dead’s long exploratory “Space” segments of their later shows.

“Montage Of Kurt II” – Another spoken audio collage of everything from bong water, to pieces from what we knew as “Beans” (those voices were first heard in “Beans” (With the Lights Out,2004) although this is an extended version of said “skit.”

“Rehash” sounds like Henry Rollins era Black Flag thrash-style with a heavy guitar riff and heavy screams, while the chorus (Rehash, Rehash) doesn’t sound at all like Cobain’s regular vocals. It’s clearly an in-development idea, as Cobain recites where he wants the solo, by orally saying: “Solo” as he plays the riff, over and over again.

“You Can’t Change Me/Burn My Britches/Something In The Way (Early Demo)” – A 3-song segue, which Brett Morgen has described as a “Punk Opera.” It really is an epic, in every sense of the word. From the start of the verse of “You Can’t Change Me,” sounding very thrashesque, and then segueing into the grungy “Burn My Britches.” The segue then softly decrescendos to a slow, but heavy, version of “Something In The Way” (akin to the BBC version mixed with the Boombox Rehearsal version, if both didn’t have drums. (both versions were released on Nevermind 20th). This version of “Something in The Way,” sounds as if Cobain is close to tears (like the Boombox’s final verse/chorus segment).

“Scoff (Early Demo)” – A Quick run-through of what seems to be the first ever recording of the song, released later on, on the album “Bleach

“Aberdeen” is the story of Cobain rehearsing his narrative of story-telling; a story about having sexual intercourse with a mentally disabled girl in his early teens. This has been disproven as being a true story by Buzz Osbourne, Kurt’s close friend and mentor in his early days of playing music, and was only another example of his dark sense of humor.

“Bright Smile” – Cobain uses his falsetto voice here to sing this almost 2-minute song, with an electric guitar underneath the vocals. The lyrics “Bright smile” are repeated throughout until the final “Smile” is yelled at the end.

“Underground Celebritism” – A short 28-second audio snippet of Kurt rhyming off about “underground celebration” which seems to be about not selling out, while he plays a little riff underneath the vocals.

“Retreat” – A 2-minute instrumental piece, with Cobain’s vocals breathing to end the track.

“Desire” – A standout acoustic number, running at 2 minutes and 27-seconds long. If this was worked on anymore, it could’ve been a hit. With the leading chorus of “Desire” repeated twice, and the riff afterwards before the second verse, it could’ve been another poppy acoustic hit.

“And I Love Her” – An acoustic rendition of the Fab Four’s ’64 hit. Recorded approximately in late 1993/early 1994.

“Sea Monkeys” – Spoken word audio of Kurt talking about Sea Monkeys…. Tower Records… and Paula Abdul.

“Sappy” – A new upgraded mix, from the version that was released unofficially on the “Outcesticide” bootleg series. A raw, stripped, acoustic version of the song that would eventually end up, electrically and more Nirvana-ized on the No Alternative Compilation in 1993.

“Letters To Frances” – A bright, and mellow 2-minute instrumental piece, written for his daughter, alternating from light strums, to a heavier strumming pattern/tone near the end.

“Scream” – A 32-second montage of wails layered with static, with Kurt using a pitch-shifter at the end for his screaming.

“Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle”
– An acoustic 4 minute demo of the In Utero track, with some alternate lyrics.

“Kurt Ambiance” is just what one would believe it to be. It’s nothing more than static through the cassette player.

“She Only Lies” – A haunting song, with dark lyrics alluding to guilt and self-condemnation, along with shame towards the other person. This could’ve easily been another song by Nirvana, with such a great bass-line.

“Kurt Audio Collage” – A 24-second audio collage of birds chirping, water flowing, and some signal interference near the end.

“Poison’s Gone” – An acoustic song clocking in at 2 minutes, with similar subject matter to “She Only Lies.”

“Rhesus Monkey” – One more of Kurt’s spoken word comedy skits, using various voices.

“Do Re Mi” (Medley) – The grandiose finale of the Deluxe Edition, of one of Kurt’s final recordings (recorded just 3 weeks before his death). By the end of the take, at over 10 minutes, Kurt’s voice is shrill, and cracking.

For historical value of the insight into Cobain’s process of crafting songs from his early, pre-Nirvana days, to his final months, this is essential listening for any fan of Cobain, as well as anyone whom may be a fan of Nirvana.

Verdict:

I’ll definitely be listening to this, not just for historical value, but as it was intended: as a way to get inside Kurt’s mind and listen how he composes songs the way he does. It feels exactly like you’re in the room with Kurt, as he’s practicing the chords, tuning the guitar, or just goofing off with one of his voices for comedy. In conclusion, Montage Of Heck: The Home Recordings (Deluxe Ed.) is exactly what any hardcore Nirvana/ Kurt Cobain fan would love, to understand the creative process – along with the film, of Kurt Cobain. 5/5 Stars.

Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, will be released by Universal Music Enterprises in multiple formats, including the Super Deluxe Edition as well as in Blu-ray, DVD and digital video formats. The soundtrack album, Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck: The Home Recordings will also be released on CD and digitally on November 13, 2015. A 2LP vinyl edition of Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck: The Home Recordings will follow on December 4, 2015. In addition, a 7-inch single featuring “And I Love Her” and “Sappy (Early Demo)” is also scheduled for release on November 20, 2015. Cobain_MOH_DLX_RGB

  • Felonious Punk

    Few — if any — fell for this garbage. It deserved to sell poorly because it’s a poor release in every sense of the word. What were they hoping for, the first ever bedroom demos album to hit number one on Billboard?

    There was absolutely no reason to release this stuff, and it was clear from the word go that it was nothing more than a blatant corporate cash-in on the part of Frances and Courtney. I would *love* to have some statistics on just how poorly that ridiculous box set sold.

    • Go Hiomlán Mandelbrotmenge Imi

      I find it extremely ridiculous to call it “solo album”. This is a collection of sketches and bedroom recordings and nothing more. Sad that Kurt did not make it long enough for a proper solo album but it is like it is. What we have is “Do Re Mi” which is a great late song by KC.

  • jinxie clark

    this whole MOH and selling his home recordings should have a theme song. RAPE ME. courtney is low on funds and has picked his bones dry, she is killing him for the 4th or 5th time. sick asf

  • jinxie clark

    DO NOT buy this you can find it online in SEVERAL formats. do not allow her to make a dime. his true fans have made this available for free. just look for it

    • Felonious Punk

      Exactly what *should* happen with a release of this nature. Those 5,000 album sales weren’t disappointing at all. They were par for the course when it comes to “Montage of Dreck”

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  • Hwang Sunghyeop

    truly, This is not the real solo album. however I have some funs during listening to some songs in there. for me, 3rd track is the main theme for this album. not the whole great album, but it was not too bad album for hardcore fans maybe.

  • Susan

    5 out of 5 stars? Apparently the rock “press” is still a joke that is littered by pathetic groupies and drug users who either pander to every word Ms. Love says or are too afraid to cross her. As for the high chart ratings, the same is probably true there. All show, no substance. This is NOT a Kurt Cobain solo album. Had he wanted to be, it would’ve been released while he was alive. It is simply yet another tawdry attempt by Love to profit from her victim’s death. I’m wondering what she’ll release next? Probably all the times she recorded Kurt having a bowel movement and pissing on the walls with his commentary. And I’ll bet the moronic cowardly rock press and charts will rate that highly as well. Disgusting.

    • Felonious Punk

      The only publications or sites giving this four- and five-star reviews are the usual ones like Rolling Stone, who have kissed this kind of ass for years. Francis helped them sell magazines earlier this year with that big, juicy tell-all article, so now they’re reciprocating.

      But dig deeper online at sites like Pitchfork or The Guardian, and those reviewers are calling bullshit on this collection with aplomb. Visit a few of the Nirvana fan communities and they want Frances burned on a cross for this. Several people have actually said that, I’m not just making this up.

  • Raj

    It’s not a Kurt Cobain solo album, it’s home recordings that were released by someone else and probably never meant to be heard. If Kurt were alive today and making solo albums, I doubt he would release these as songs.

    • Felonious Punk

      No way in hell these were meant to be heard. Kurt never would have authorized this bullshit for profitable release. If anything, he would have shared them for free online with the understanding that these were sketches of songs and ideas for the classics that came later. There would have been none of this “30 seconds of Kurt farting” or “30 seconds of Kurt’s guitar resting against an amplifier, humming” bullshit.

  • Dana Dan?a Dandy

    Please support our activity. Sign the petition for share it. The case must be reopened. Petition supported by nearly 7,500 people. Thanks to all. Justice for Kurt! https://www.change.org/p/seattle-police-department-reopening-the-case-of-kurt-cobain-s-death

    • Felonious Punk

      No need to re-open the case. There’s more than 20 years of evidence to prove he killed himself. Save your money and your time.

  • http://www.cobainlies.com/ Michael

    I heard it on Spotify Free, I didn’t
    care for it! Kurt never thought these recordings would see the light of day.
    >>>> SMH – KC
    Peace Shine Love
    #CobainLies
    CobainLies.com
    #montageofheck Soundtrack

  • iLeonD

    I listened to the album. It felt more like an invasion of privacy more than an actual album. If Kurt was still here he would never let theses songs out for anyone to hear.

  • Wam Meesly

    I have not yet heard this, but I share many of your feelings. I am not into the selling every last scrap of this person’s legacy liquidation that seems to have accelerated the past few years. Most musicians occasionally record their jam sessions, that is all this is. My hope is that maybe there is more original music deep in the vault though I know at this stage it is unlikely, given the tape recorded practice sessions are now being sold. Conversely, is 5,000 units in the first week significant these days? I know Rolling Stones’ lists usually state the debut week totals and nowadays, its usually 20,000 a week for the top ten. And that number only includes retail copies.

  • ITURBIDE

    No shit Sherlock…

  • http://www.gofuckyourself.com/ BestxInTheWorld

    The soundtrack was unnecessary, but the flick was AWESOME!!! I think Buzz Osborne called it fabricated though.