Listen: Nirvana cassette demos have been unearthed and they sound awesome

An old friend of Kurt post more than 2 hours of recordings

January 9, 2018

by Merydolla // dreamstime


Manley and I were just talking about how, usually, it's lame when the estate of a deceased artist releases a bunch of posthumous recordings.

Listen: Nirvana transposed into a major key broke my brain

Unless the person died in the midst of finishing an album/release, there's probably a reason it never came out. But demo recordings are another, blurrier topic. Is it awesome to hear how a song took shape in its draft stage? Is it unfair to the artist that an unfinished product shows us the imperfections and stylistic changes? Both? I love hearing this stuff knowing how great the songs became and getting a chance to listen to a more raw recording as I wasn't old enough to see this played live in a club in Pioneer Square!

Now, almost an entire generation since his death, a Tacoma musician and friend of Kurt Cobain, John Purkey, has taken to YouTube to publish four cassettes that Cobain gave to him back in the early days of Nirvana. We get some insight into the early recordings of Bleach with Dale Crover bashing at the drums in that specifically thunderous way. Also, some of Nirvana's most familiar songs recorded with Chad Channing before he was replaced by Dave Grohl.

Dave Grohl is just a regular dude at a Metallica concert

The tapes (now videos) are accompanied by an introduction from Purkey including a tale of the original tape being ripped off when a friend's car stereo was stolen with the tape inside. Lots of these recording have surfaced before because the lore of Nirvana is insatiable, but the more than two-hours of warped, odd-sounding at times recordings feel good to listen to. They give a feeling of just how much effort Kurt was putting into the work to give us those gems of albums.

This third one has some incredible takes on Nevermind material and is my favorite of the bunch: