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Nirvana - Floyd the Barber (Live at the Paramount 1991)

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Floyd the Barber on Wikipedia
Color-reversed image of a band playing on a studio.
Studio album by Nirvana
ReleasedJune 15, 1989
RecordedJanuary 23, 1988; June–September 1988; December 1988–January 1989
StudioReciprocal Recording in Seattle, Washington
LabelSub Pop
ProducerJack Endino
Nirvana chronology
Singles from Bleach
  1. "Love Buzz"
    Released: November 1988
  2. "Blew"
    Released: December 1989

Bleach is the debut studio album by the American rock band Nirvana, released on June 15, 1989 by Sub Pop. The main recording sessions took place at Reciprocal Recording in Seattle, Washington between December 1988 and January 1989.

Bleach was well received by critics, but failed to chart in the U.S. upon its original release. The album was re-released internationally by Geffen Records in 1992 following the success of Nirvana's second album, Nevermind (1991). The re-release debuted at number 89 on the Billboard 200, and peaked at number 33 on the UK Albums Chart and 34 on the Australian albums chart. In 2009 Sub Pop released a 20th anniversary edition of Bleach featuring a live recording of a Nirvana show in Portland, Oregon from 1990 as extra material. Since its release in 1989, Bleach has sold more than 1,900,000 copies in the United States alone.[1] It is Sub Pop's best-selling album to date.[2]


  • 1 Recording
  • 2 Music
  • 3 Release and promotion
  • 4 Reception
  • 5 Track listing
  • 6 Personnel
  • 7 Charts
    • 7.1 1992 re-release
    • 7.2 2009 20th Anniversary
  • 8 Certifications
  • 9 Release history
  • 10 Notes
  • 11 References
  • 12 External links


After the release of its debut single "Love Buzz" on Sub Pop in November 1988, Nirvana practiced for two to three weeks in preparation for recording a full-length album, even though Sub Pop had only requested an EP.[3] The main sessions for Bleach took place at Reciprocal Recording Studios in Seattle, with local producer Jack Endino.

Nirvana began recording with a five-hour session on December 24, 1988.[4] The band recorded again on December 29–31, and on January 14 and 24.[5] Three of the album's songs – "Floyd the Barber", "Paper Cuts" and "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 Chad Channing, the band ultimately decided to remix the versions recorded with Crover for the final version of Bleach.[6] "Big Long Now" was omitted from the album because vocalist/guitarist Kurt Cobain felt "there was already enough slow heavy stuff on Bleach, and he 'didn't want that song to go out'", according to Endino.[5] The album was edited and sequenced, but Sub Pop head Bruce Pavitt ordered that the album be completely re-sequenced. The record was further delayed for several months until Sub Pop was able to secure sufficient funds to issue it.[6]

Lead singer Kurt Cobain felt pressured to create music for Bleach that conformed to the grunge music style favored by his record label and the contemporary Seattle music scene. The album is regarded as quite negative and bleak; Cobain claimed that most of the lyrics were written the night before recording while he was feeling "pissed off", and that he did not regard them highly.

Endino billed the band thirty hours of recording at $606.17.[6] Jason Everman, a guitarist who was impressed by Nirvana's demo with Dale Crover, supplied the money. He briefly joined the group as second guitarist.[6] Everman was credited 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 album. Bassist Krist Novoselic explained, "We just wanted to make him feel at home in the band."[7]


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, and noted that he "it down and it sound like Aerosmith." Cobain also felt he had to fit the expectations of the grunge sound to build a fanbase, and hence suppressed his arty and pop songwriting traits while crafting the record.[10] Krist Novoselic said in a 2001 interview with Rolling Stone that the band had played a tape in their tour van that had an album by The Smithereens on one side and one by the extreme metal band Celtic Frost on the other, and noted that the combination probably played an influence as well.[11] The songs were described as "deliberately bleak, claustrophobic, and lyrically sparse, with none of the manic derangement or sense of release of the live performance". Cobain said that the song structures were "one–dimensional", and said that he sought to present a more "polished and urbane side of happy".[12]

Describing the various songs on Bleach, Christopher Sandford wrote: "'Paper Cuts' includes a folk-influence melody and ponderous rhythm of an early Led Zeppelin number; 'Mr. Moustache' addressed itself on Nirvana's male fans; 'Downer' showed the same exceptional contempt for the group's audience". Sandford felt "School" – which features only four lines of lyrics – was memorable for its chorus that "served as the rip". While "Scoff" is "a parting salvo at [Cobain's parents]", "Negative Creep" was written by Cobain about himself. According to Sandford, "About a Girl" has a "chiming melody and ironic chorus".[13] In Sounds magazine, Keith Cameron said the song "was exhilarating and it was exciting because that was the nature of the music, but there was also an almost palpable sense of danger, that this whole thing could fall apart any second. There was never any relaxation from the first note to the last".[14] In his book Nirvana: The Stories Behind Every Song, Chuck Crisafulli writes that the song "stands out in the Cobain canon as a song with a very specific genesis and a very real subject".[8]

In one of his first interviews, Cobain told Sounds journalist John Robb, "When I write a song the lyrics are the least important thing. I can go through two or three different subjects in a song and the title can mean absolutely nothing at all. Sometimes I try to make things harder for myself, just to try to make myself a bit more angry. I try out a few subconscious things I suppose, like conflicts with other people. Most of the lyrics on the Bleach album are about my life in Aberdeen."

In 1993, Cobain told Spin that on Bleach he "didn't give a flying fuck what the lyrics were about" and claimed that 80 percent of the lyrics were written the night before recording.[15] He was often still working on the words on the drive to the recording studio.[6] 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."[15] Nirvana biographer Michael Azerrad noted that, nevertheless, many of the songs on the album reflected Cobain and various incidents in his life.[16] "Mr. Moustache" was inspired by Cobain's dislike of macho behavior,[17] while "School" was a critique of the Seattle music scene, particularly Sub Pop.[18]

Release and promotion

The album cover was photographed by Cobain's then-girlfriend Tracy Marander during a concert at the Reko Muse art gallery in Olympia, Washington.[19] On February 25, 1989, Nirvana played at venues on the west coast, including the University of Washington.[20] The group began its first European tour, a double headliner with the band Tad, at the Riverside venue in Newcastle upon Tyne on October 23, 1989. On December 3, they played a "triumphant" set at the London Astoria. Christopher Sandford related: "when the style pundits noted Cobain's 'patent lumberjack shirts and ugly fifties geometric-patterned jerseys', seeing an example of 'low-couture chic' they missed the point that flannel shirts and sweaters were everyday dress in the marine climate of the Northwest". Cobain took note and said that he never intended to start a fad or act as a role model.[12]

The album's working title was Too Many Humans.[21] It was renamed Bleach after Cobain found an AIDS prevention poster while Nirvana was driving through San Francisco. The poster advised heroin addicts to bleach their needles before use, featuring the slogan "Bleach Your Works".[6] In Australia, Bleach was released on Waterfront Records and re-issued on various colored covers and colored vinyl prior to 1992.[22]

Due to increasing dissatisfaction with Everman over the course of the Bleach tour, Nirvana canceled the last few dates and drove back to Washington. No one told Everman he was fired at the time, while Everman later claimed that he actually quit the group.[23] Although Sub Pop did not promote Bleach as much as other releases, it was a steady seller.[24] However, Cobain was upset by the label's lack of promotion and distribution for the album.[24]

In April 1992, following the success of Nirvana's second album Nevermind, Sub Pop released a remastered version of Bleach on LP, CD and cassette, adding two extra tracks. Geffen Records handled the international release.[25] The CD version was packaged in a cardboard foldout case that included a bonus booklet filled with photos of the band from 1987–1990.[26] For the 20th anniversary of the album, Sub Pop released on November 3, 2009 a deluxe reissue of Bleach featuring a March 2009 remastering from the original tapes by George Marino and a live recording of a 1990 show at Portland, Oregon's Pine Street Theatre.[27]


Bleach did not sell well but received positive reviews from critics when it was first released.[33] Anthony Carew from the Guide said that the album "definethe entire decade of the '90s", and awarded it four out of five stars.[34] Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic gave the album three and a half out of five stars, noting that "Kurt Cobain illustrated signs of his considerable songcraft, particularly on the minor-key ballad 'About a Girl' and the dense churn of 'Blew'". He also said that "it's a debut from a band that shows potential but haven't yet achieved it."[28] NME's Edwin Pouncey said that the album was the "biggest, baddest sound that Sub Pop have so far managed to unearth. So primitive that they manage to make label mates Mudhoney sound like Genesis, Nirvana turn up the volume and spit and claw their way to the top of the musical garbage heap", and gave it an eight out of ten rating.[30] Bleach was considered by Rolling Stone Magazine as "a moderate hit on college radio and the underground/DIY circuit."[31]

Before Nevermind was released, Bleach had sold 40,000 copies in North America.[35] The 1992 re-release of the album was more successful on the charts, with Bleach eventually reaching number 89 at the Billboard 200,[36] number 33 on the UK album charts,[37] number 34 on the Australian Recording Industry Association chart,[38] and number 22 on the Finland charts.[39] Kurt Cobain's death in 1994 also led to a resurgence of popularity, with Bleach entering the Top Pop Catalog chart at number six in the week following his death,[40] and eventually earning the top spot on May 7.[41] The 2009 deluxe edition entered the Catalog Albums chart at number seven.[42] Bleach was certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America in February 1995,[43] and has sold an estimated 1.9 million copies in the United States.[1] It has also been certified Gold by the Canadian Recording Industry Association.[44] It is Sub Pop's best-selling album release to date.[2]

Track listing

All tracks written by Kurt Cobain, except where noted.


  • Kurt Cobain[46] – vocals, guitar
  • Krist Novoselic[46] – bass guitar
  • Chad Channing – drums
  • Jason Everman – guitar (in name only)

Additional Personnel

  • Dale Crover – drums on "Floyd the Barber", "Paper Cuts", and "Downer"
  • Jack Endino – producer
  • Tracy Marander – photography
  • Charles Peterson – photography
  • Lisa Orth – design
  • Jane Higgins – execution


  1. ^ a b c Ask Billboard: Rihanna's (Quirky) Record in the Hot 100's Top 10 With 'Needed Me' Billboard. Retrieved October 6, 2016.
  2. ^ a b "Sub Pop Records: 1988–2008" (PDF). Sub Pop Records. 2008. Retrieved 2010-09-29. 
  3. ^ Azerrad, 1994. p. 85–89
  4. ^ Azerrad, 1994. p. 90
  5. ^ a b Gaar, Gillian G. "Verse Chorus Verse: The Recording History of Nirvana". Goldmine. 1997-02-14
  6. ^ a b c d e f Azerrad, 1994. p. 91
  7. ^ Azerrad, 1994. p. 92
  8. ^ a b Crisafulli, Chuck. Nirvana: The Stories Behind Every Song. Da Capo Press, 2006. ISBN 1-56025-947-7, p. 28–36
  9. ^ "Bleach (album review)". Sputnik Music. January 14, 2005. Retrieved 2011-07-06. 
  10. ^ Azerrad, 1994. p. 102
  11. ^ Fricke, David. "Krist Novoselic". Rolling Stone. 2001-09-13
  12. ^ a b Sandford, 2004. p. 112
  13. ^ Sandford, 2004. pp. 116–118
  14. ^ Sandford, 2004. p. 135
  15. ^ a b Steinke, Darcey. "Smashing Their Heads on That Punk Rock". Spin. October 1993.
  16. ^ Azerrad, 1994. p. 97
  17. ^ Azerrad, 1994. p. 99
  18. ^ Azerrad, 1994. p. 100
  19. ^ True, 2007. p. 125–6
  20. ^ Sandford, 2004. pp. 378–379
  21. ^ Cross, p. 105
  22. ^ Berkenstadt, Cross, 2003. p. 147
  23. ^ Azerrad, 1994. p. 115–20
  24. ^ a b Azerrad, 1994. p. 134
  25. ^ Berkenstadt, Cross, 2003. p. 148
  26. ^ Azerrad, 1994. p. 95
  27. ^ Breihan, Tom (2009-08-17). "Endino, Channing Speak Up About Nirvana's "Bleach" Reissue". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2012-06-14. 
  28. ^ a b c Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Bleach – Nirvana". AllMusic. Retrieved July 4, 2010. 
  29. ^ Wolk, Douglas (April 2008). "Back Catalogue: Nirvana". Blender (68): 88–89. 
  30. ^ a b Pouncey, Edwin (July 8, 1989). "Nirvana : Bleach (Sub Pop import US LP only)". NME. Retrieved July 6, 2010. 
  31. ^ a b Young, Charles M. (2004). "Nirvana". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian. The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. Simon & Schuster. pp. 589–90. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8. 
  32. ^ Perry, Andrew (April 1992). "Nirvana: Bleach". Select (22): 84. 
  33. ^ Henderson, Lol; Stacey, Lee (2014). Encyclopedia of Music in the 20th Century. Routledge Books. p. 263. ISBN 1-135-92946-7. 
  34. ^ Carew, Anthony "Definitive Albums: Nirvana 'Bleach' (1989)". Retrieved 2010-07-18.
  35. ^ "20 Year Old Bleach". Sub Pop. 2009-08-14. Retrieved 2010-08-24. 
  36. ^ "Bleach – Nirvana Chart History: Billboard 200". Billboard. Retrieved 2009-11-10. 
  37. ^ Roberts, David, ed. (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums. number 19 edition. HIT Entertainment. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  38. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 and 1993–2005. St Ives, N.S.W. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  39. ^ a b Pennanen, Timo (2003). Sisältää hitin: levyt ja esittäjät Suomen musiikkilistoilla vuodesta 1972. Otava Publishing Company Ltd. ISBN 951-1-21053-X.
  40. ^ Nielsen Business Media, Inc (1994-04-23). "Cobain Death Spurs Rush at Retail". Billboard: 9. 
  41. ^ "Catalog Albums – Week of May 7, 1994". Billboard. Retrieved 2010-08-24. 
  42. ^ "Catalog Albums – Week of November 21, 2009". Billboard. Retrieved 2010-08-24. 
  43. ^ "Search Results". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 2009-11-12. [permanent dead link]
  44. ^ "Gold Platinum Database: Nirvana — Bleach". Canadian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved 2012-07-20. 
  45. ^ "Nirvana - Bleach (UK)". Discogs]]. Retrieved January 13, 2015. 
  46. ^ a b True, 2007. p. 124
  47. ^ " – Nirvana – Bleach". Hung Medien. Retrieved 8 May 2016.
  48. ^ " – Nirvana – Bleach" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved 8 May 2016.
  49. ^ " – Nirvana – Bleach" (in French). Hung Medien. Retrieved 8 May 2016.
  50. ^ "Longplay-Chartverfolgung at Musicline" (in German). Phononet GmbH. Retrieved 8 May 2016.
  51. ^ Album Chart-Book Complete Edition 1970–2005. Orikonmāketingupuromōshon (2006). ISBN 4-87131-077-9.
  52. ^ " – Nirvana – Bleach". Hung Medien. Retrieved 8 May 2016.
  53. ^ "Nirvana | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart Retrieved 8 May 2016.
  54. ^ "Nirvana – Chart history" Billboard 200 for Nirvana. Retrieved 8 May 2016.
  55. ^ Nirvana - Billboard Catalog Chart
  56. ^ "Nirvana – Chart history" Billboard Top Catalog Albums for Nirvana. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  57. ^ " – Nirvana – Bleach" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 8 May 2016.
  58. ^ Chart Log UK - 1994–2010 - Nadanuf – Michael Nyman. See: BLEACH – DELUXE EDITION - 2009 entry Retrieved June 29, 2016.
  59. ^ "Nirvana – Chart history" Billboard Top Catalog Albums for Nirvana. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  60. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Nirvana – Bleach". Music Canada. 
  61. ^ "French album certifications – Nirvana – Bleach" (in French). Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique. 
  62. ^ "Polish album certifications – Nirvana – Bleach" (in Polish). Polish Society of the Phonographic Industry. 
  63. ^ "British album certifications – Nirvana – Bleach". British Phonographic Industry.  Enter Bleach in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Select Platinum in the field By Award. Click Search
  64. ^ "American album certifications – Nirvana – Bleach". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH
  65. ^ Stephen Thomas Erlewine "allmusic ((( Bleach (Deluxe Edition) > Overview )))". Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-07-18.
  66. ^ "allmusic ((( Bleach > Overview )))". Allmusic . Retrieved 2010-07-18.


  • Azerrad, Michael. Come as You Are: The Story of Nirvana. Doubleday, 1993. ISBN 0-385-47199-8
  • Berkenstadt, Jim; Cross, Charles. Nevermind: Nirvana. Music Sales Group, 2003. ISBN 0-8256-7286-4
  • Cross, Charles. Heavier Than Heaven: A Biography of Kurt Cobain. Hyperion, 2001. ISBN 0-7868-8402-9
  • Sandford, Christopher. Kurt Cobain. Da Capo Press, 2004. ISBN 0-7867-1369-0
  • True, Everett. Nirvana – The True Story. Omnibus Press, 2006. ISBN 1-84449-640-6

External links

  • Bleach at Discogs
  • Live Nirvana Sessions History – Bleach
  • Live Nirvana Companion to Official Releases – Bleach
  • Bleach at MusicBrainz (list of releases)

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