is the debut album by the American
. It was released on June 15, 1989
through the independent record
label Sub Pop
originally sold a mere 30,000 copies, but following the enormous
success of the band's second album, Nevermind
(1991), fans discovered Nirvana's
obscure debut. It has since been certified platinum
by the Recording Industry
Association of America
, making it one of only two albums
released on Sub Pop to have received platinum certification.
sessions for Bleach took place at Reciprocal Recording
Studios in Seattle, Washington, with local producer Jack
Endino manning the board.
Nirvana began recording with a
five hour session on December 24, 1988. The band recorded again on
December 29-31, and on January 14 and 24. Ultimately Endino billed
the group for 30 hours of recording time. Three of the album's
songs–"Floyd the Barber", "Paper Cuts", and the CD-only track
"Downer"–were recorded during a previous session at Reciprocal
Studios in 1988, featuring Dale Crover
on drums. Despite attempts to re-record them with new drummer
, the band ultimately
decided to remix the versions recorded with Crover for the final
version of Bleach
. "Big Long Now" was omitted from the
album because vocalist/guitarist Kurt
felt "there was already enough slow heavy stuff on
, and he "didn't want that song to go out",
according to Endino. The album was edited and sequenced, but Sub
Pop head Bruce Pavitt
ordered that the
album be completely resequenced. The record was further delayed for
several months until Sub Pop was able to secure sufficient funds to
The recording sessions were completed with a cost of $
, a guitarist who was impressed by the band's demo with
Dale Crover, supplied the money. He briefly joined Nirvana as a
second guitarist. Everman is credited (removed on deluxe reissue)
as a guitarist on the album sleeve, and is the other guitarist on
the cover of the album, even though he did not perform on the
record. Bassist Krist Novoselic
explained, "We just wanted to make him feel at home in the
According to Cobain, the music on Bleach conformed with the grunge genre Sub Pop heavily endorsed. "There was this pressure from Sub Pop and the [grunge] scene to play 'rock music'," Cobain said. "Strip it down and make it sound like Aerosmith." Cobain felt he had to fit the expectations of the grunge sound in order to build a fanbase, and so he purposefully suppressed his arty and pop songwriting traits when crafting the record. Krist Novoselic noted in a 2001 interview with Rolling Stone that the band had played a tape in their van while on tour that had an album by The Smithereens on one side and an album by the black metal band Celtic Frost on the other, and noted that the combination probably played an influence as well.
Cobain told Spin
that with Bleach
"I didn't give a flying fuck what the
lyrics were about," and claimed that eighty percent of the lyrics
were written the night before recording. Cobain often was still
working on them on the drive to the recording studio. He explained,
"It was like I'm pissed off. Don't know what about. Let's just
scream negative lyrics, and as long as they're not sexist and don't
get too embarrassing it'll be okay. I don't hold any of those
lyrics dear to me." Nirvana biographer Michael Azerrad
noted that nevertheless many
of the songs on the album were reflective of Cobain and various
incidents in his life. "Mr. Moustache" was inspired by Cobain's
dislike of macho behavior, while "School" was a critique of the
Seattle music scene, particularly Sub Pop.
Sub Pop pressed the first 1,000 copies on white vinyl
, the next 2,000 on black, and all
subsequent pressings were on red and blue. The first 3,000 copies
of the record
came with a poster,
featuring Jason Everman
. The vinyl
pressings omitted "Big Cheese" or "Downer". In the United Kingdom, the record was released on Tupelo Records in June
The first 300 Tupelo copies were pressed on white
vinyl; the next 2,000 copies were on dark green. The rest of the
Tupelo copies were on black vinyl. The Tupelo copies did contain
"Love Buzz", but "Big Cheese" was listed on the label and sleeve
instead. They also did not contain "Downer". In Australia
was released on
re-issued on various colored covers and colored vinyl prior to
1992. Sub Pop released a remastered version of the album on
in April 1992.
20th anniversary of the album, Sub Pop
released a deluxe reissue of Bleach featuring a Jack Endino remastering and a live recording of
a 1990 show at Portland,
Oregon's Pine Street Theatre.
The album's working title was Too Many Humans
renamed Bleach after Cobain found an AIDS prevention poster while Nirvana was driving
poster advised heroin addicts
to bleach their needles before use,
featuring the slogan "Bleach Your Works."
Sales chart positions
- Azerrad, Michael. Come As You Are: The Story of
Nirvana. Doubleday, 1993. ISBN 0-385-47199-8
- Cross, Charles. Heavier Than Heaven: A Biography of Kurt
Cobain. Hyperion, 2001. ISBN 0-7868-8402-9
- Azerrad, 1994. p. 90
- Gaar, Gillian G. "Verse Chorus Verse: The Recording History of
Nirvana". Goldmine. February 14, 1997.
- Azerrad, 1994. p. 91
- Hannah Levin, "Jack Endino", Seattle Metropolitan,
December 2008, p. 66.
- Azerrad, 1994. p. 92
- Azerrad, 1994. p. 102
- Fricke, David. "Krist Novoselic". Rolling Stone.
September 13, 2001.
- Steinke, Darcey. "Smashing Their Heads on That Punk Rock".
Spin. October 1993.
- Azerrad, 1994. p. 97
- Azerrad, 1994. p. 99
- Azerrad, 1994. p. 100
- Waterfront Records Discography. Retrieved
April 4, 2007.
- Cross, p. 105