Kurt Cobain - Montage Of Heck - The Home Recordings - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Kurt Cobain - Montage Of Heck - The Home Recordings

by James Weiskittel Rating:5 Release Date:2015-11-13

When trying to measure or gauge the work of an artist, it can sometimes be difficult to see something within its own light, separate from the ever-growing shadow of 'legacy' that tends to loom so large. And few legacy’s loom larger than that of Kurt Cobain and Nirvana.

Despite a relatively brief (three proper albums and one compilation) recording career, Nirvana fans have time and time again been surprised in recent years with posthumous releases, each one promising to be ‘the final’ clearing of the vaults. And that leads us to the recently released (albeit somewhat controversial) documentary, Montage of Heck, and (soon to be released) corresponding soundtrack by the same name.

Available in two formats (the standard 13 track release as well as an 'odds & sods’ deluxe release),  Montage of Heck offers a rare, (albeit somewhat voyeuristic) view into the creative process of what may be the last great rock-star of the 20th century.  

Rather than simply retread the Nirvana story, Montage of Heck - The Home Recordings, (as well as the documentary itself) focuses squarely on Kurt Cobain the artist, and it becomes more and more obvious with each passing track that while he was the heart and soul of that 90’s alt-rock juggernaut, the magic of the band was in the combination of its members.  The songs presented here are the very definition of ‘raw’, compiled from Cobain’s personal cassette tapes.  But even on the edge of Cobain's bed, as he clumsily strums the initial inspiration for what would eventually become a generation's soundtrack, one can hear that perfect blend of Cobain’s effortless playing and awkwardly tuneful voice.

So, the obvious question remains; is Montage of Heck for 'completists only', or does it represent a solid place to start for an uninitiated millennial wondering what all the fuss is about with this Cobain fella?  And of course, depending on how you look at it, the answer lies somewhere in the middle.  

Even in the rawest of forms, eventual-fan favorites like "Sappy”, ‘Been a Son”, and "Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle" carry artistic weight, a tribute to the uncanny knack for veiled melodic sensibilities that Cobain had.  But ultimately, I would find it hard to believe that any one of these thirteen tracks would usurp any of the various live or studio version counterparts as a fan's 'go-to' version of a song.

That all being said, the fact remains that Kurt Cobain never intended for anyone (and certainly not an entire record-buying nation) to hear these recordings.  And therein lies the rub, because for as fascinating a look into the creative process of a highly regarded artist that this collection provides, there is something a bit lacking to the experience without the context of his criminally underappreciated (at least in the context of Nirvana) bandmates.  Montage of Heck is Kurt Cobain at his most vulnerable and raw; a somewhat challenging listen that only die-hard fans will repeatedly want to explore.

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