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kurt-cobain-montage-of-heck-psterSOUNDTRACK: FOO FIGHTERS-Foo Fighters (1995).

ffDave Grohl was like the anti-Kurt Cobain.  How many photos do you see of him with a big stupid grin on his face.  He seems to be silly and fun all the time (despite some apparent angst in his life).  And how surprising was it to find out that not only could he bang the hell out of the drums, he could also write songs (and play guitar).  Of course we all looked for songs “about” Kurt, on this record, but I realize that Dave only knew Kurt for a couple of years, he likely didn’t even really know him that well.  Dave has other things on his mind.

And somehow, despite the really aggressive often heavy metal feel  of Foo Fighters albums, they are always popular.  Foo Fighters have gotten so big, it’s easy to forget that Grohl was even in Nirvana, which is saying something.

The Foo Fighters debut album was written and performed entirely by Dave Grohl.  I remember when it came out (well, after it was revealed to be Grohls’ album–it was a secret for a little while) listening to it in an apartment in Boston.  I must have listened to it a lot because I know the whole thing so well.

Grohl uses some of the loud/quite format of Nirvana, but mostly he just writes songs with simple lyrics (easy to sing along to even if you don’t know what he’s saying (bridge to “I’ll Stick Around” anyone?) and big catchy choruses.

If you like loud rocking songs, this album is fantastic.  “This is a Call” and “I’ll Stick Around” are super catchy heavy songs.  “Alone + Easy Target” is a bit less catchy, although the chorus has a very cool riff in it.  “Good Grief” is super heavy with an aggressive chorus.

But it’s also git some sweet songs.  “Big Me” is quite tender and it makes me laugh because the drums are so incredibly simple and gentle for a basher like Grohl.  “Floaty” is a really pretty song with some cool fuzzy guitars and a cool riff that goes from bridge to chorus.  The chorus has an aggressive punk riff which complements the rest of the song in an interesting way.

“Weenie Beenie” (I had no idea that’s what the song was called) is loud and aggressive with a massively distorted vocal. It’s kind of a throwaway but shows Grohl’s love of punk.  “Watershed” is a similarly fast punk track and is only 2 minutes.

“Oh, George” is a mid tempo song, with some very catchy moments and a classic rock style guitar solo.  “For All the Cows” opens with a kind of jazzy guitar and drum sound and then really rocks out.  It was released as a single but never did anything, which is a shame because it seems like a joke but is actually quite good.

Even though Grohl did everything on the album, he had a little help from Greg Dulli who played guitar on “X-Static.”  I would never have noticed it was Dulli, although knowing that it’s someone else playing, you can hear a different style in the guitar.  The disc ends with “Exhausted,” a song which sets a kind of trend of longish more meandering songs near the end of Foo Fighters albums.  I don’t love it but its a fine ending.

So many things could have been wrong with this album–a drummer writing songs, and an ex-famous drummer at that.  He even initially wanted to record it with Krist Novoselic, but was afraid that people would think it was a Nirvana band (and he’s very right about that).  Despite all of that, it turned out to be pretty great.  And it was the start of something of a phenomenon.

[READ: May 20, 2015] Montage of Heck

So I was a huge fan of Nirvana (like the rest of the world) when they came crashing forth on my speakers.  And yes, I knew that they saved rock.  But by the time Kurt killed himself, I was bummed but not distraught.  I was never going to have a poster of him on my wall or anything like that.

I was intrigued when I heard this documentary was coming out. But I didn’t have any plans to see it.  And then NPR played an audio excerpt from the movie in which a drugged up Kurt is getting yelled at by Courtney while their infant baby is lying next to them.  And I decided I didn’t need to see that film–it was brutal just to listen to.

Then I saw this book at work and thought it might be an easier dosage than the film.  (Although my friend Eugenie has seen it and says it’s excellent).

It turns out the book has a lot more stuff that the film does (although I can’t say what as I haven’t seen the film).  It consists entirely of interviews and illustrations (very cool ones by Hisko Hulsing and very creepy ones from Stefan Nadelman.   There’s lots of photos and a few excerpts from Kurt’ diaries and the like.

The interview subjects are listed on the page 18-19 spread of the book.  Each has a photo.  There’s Don Cobain and Jenny Cobain (Kurt’s father and stepmother).  Then there’s Wendy O’Connor, Kurt’s mom and she looks exactly like Courtney Love WHAT IS UP WITH THAT?  In her early younger photos she doesn’t.  It is creepy. (more…)

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