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 February 12-26, 1993 Pachyderm Recording Studio Cannon Falls, MN, US

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MensajeTema: February 12-26, 1993 Pachyderm Recording Studio Cannon Falls, MN, US   Miér Feb 03, 2010 6:39 pm

February 12-26, 1993 Pachyderm Recording Studio Cannon Falls, MN, US

Artist
NIRVANA
Cobain, Kurt (vocals, guitar)
Grohl, Dave (drums)
Novoselic, Krist (bass)
Schaley, Kera (cello)
Crew
Albini, Steve (producer, engineer)
Sigmeth, Brent (assistant)
Weston, Bob (engineer)
Set
[O] Scentless Apprentice
[O] Milk It
[O] Sappy
[O] Very Ape
[U] Pennyroyal Tea (instrumental)
[O] Radio Friendly Unit Shifter
[O] Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle
[O] Moist Vagina
[O] tourette's
[X] Heart-Shaped Box (instrumental)
[X] All Apologies (instrumental)
[O] All Apologies
[O] I Hate Myself And Want To Die
[X] Rape Me (instrumental)
[O] Rape Me
[O] Serve The Servants
[O] Dumb
[X] Dave Solo (instrumental, Grohl on all instruments)
[X] Marigold (instrumental, Grohl on drums and guitar, Novoselic on bass)
[X] Marigold (instrumental, Grohl on drums and guitar, Novoselic on bass)
[O] Marigold (Grohl on vocals, drums and guitar, Novoselic on bass)
[X] Lullaby (instrumental)
[O] Pennyroyal Tea
[X] Heart-Shaped Box (instrumental)
[O] Heart-Shaped Box
Best available sources
Source Quality Complete Runtime Lowest Gen Tracks Featured Notes

SBD #1a 10.0 No 0:41:00 Official CD (In Utero, MFSL Gold CD, catalog#: UDCD 690)
• Serve The Servants
• Scentless Apprentice
• Heart-Shaped Box
• Rape Me
• Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle
• Dumb
• Very Ape
• Milk It
• Pennyroyal Tea
• Radio Friendly Unit Shifter
• tourette's
• All Apologies Scott Litt remixes Heart-Shaped Box and All Apologies. Mastered by Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs.

SBD #1b 10.0 No 0:41:15 Official CD (In Utero, K-Mart version)
• Serve The Servants
• Scentless Apprentice
• Heart-Shaped Box
• Rape Me
• Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle
• Dumb
• Very Ape
• Milk It
• Pennyroyal Tea
• Radio Friendly Unit Shifter
• tourette's
• All Apologies Scott Litt remixes Heart-Shaped Box, All Apologies and Pennyroyal Tea. All tracks mastered by Bob Ludwig. Rape Me appears under the title Waif Me.

SBD #1c 10.0 No 0:11:10 Official CD (Heart-Shaped Box)
• Heart-Shaped Box
• Milk It
• Marigold Scott Litt remixes Heart-Shaped Box. All tracks mastered by Bob Ludwig.

SBD #1d 10.0 No 0:10:16 Official CD (All Apologies)
• All Apologies
• Rape Me
• Moist Vagina Scott Litt remixes All Apologies. All tracks mastered by Bob Ludwig.

SBD #1e 10.0 No 0:04:02 Official CD (Various Artists - The Beavis And Butt-Head Experience)
• I Hate Myself And Want To Die Mastered by Bob Ludwig.

SBD #1f 10.0 No 0:03:24 Official CD (Various Artists - No Alternative)
• Sappy Sappy appears under the title Verse Chorus Verse. It is less complete than on SBD #1j, but of superior sound quality overall.

SBD #1g 10.0 No 0:41:28 Official 12" (In Utero, Universal pressing, catalog # 424-536-1)
• Serve The Servants
• Scentless Apprentice
• Heart-Shaped Box
• Rape Me
• Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle
• Dumb
• Very Ape
• Milk It
• Pennyroyal Tea
• Radio Friendly Unit Shifter
• tourette's
• All Apologies Steve Albini final mixes.

SBD #1h 7.5 No 0:54:30 ANA(X)>FLAC
• Rape Me
• Scentless Apprentice
• Heart-Shaped Box
• Milk It
• Dumb
• Radio Friendly Unit Shifter
• Very Ape
• Pennyroyal Tea
• Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle
• tourette's
• Serve The Servants
• All Apologies
• Moist Vagina
• Marigold
• Sappy
• I Hate Myself And Want To Die Steve Albini final mixes. Marigold features some pre-song ambient noises not found on other sources.

SBD #1i 9.5 No 0:27:38 ANA(X)>DAT(X)>CDR(2)>FLAC
• Rape Me
• Milk It
• Heart-Shaped Box
• Scentless Apprentice
• Frances Farmer Will Have Revenge On Seattle
• Marigold
• Dumb
• All Apologies Steve Albini rough mixes (first week). Frances Farmer Will Have Revenge On Seattle cuts out and Marigold cuts in.

SBD #1j 9.9 No 0:05:58 Official CD (With The Lights Out)
• Marigold
• Sappy Sappy is more complete here than on SBD #1f, but is of inferior sound quality overall.

SBD #1k 9.5 No 0:43:51 Official CS (In Utero, Promo CS, catalog#: GEF/C-24607)
• Serve The Servants
• Scentless Apprentice
• Heart-Shaped Box
• Rape Me
• Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle
• Dumb
• Very Ape
• Milk It
• Pennyroyal Tea
• Radio Friendly Unit Shifter
• tourette's
• I Hate Myself And Want To Die
• All Apologies tourette's appears as Tourrets, Pennyroyal Tea appears as Penny Royal Tea. I Hate Myself And Want To Die features pre-song banter and ambient noises not found on other releases. Scott Litt remixes Heart-Shaped Box and All Apologies.

SBD #1l 10.0 No TBC REEL(M)>WAV (48kHz, 16-bit, mono)
• Sappy ×24
• Very Ape ×24
• Pennyroyal Tea (instrumental) ×24
• Moist Vagina ×24 Multitracks, covering basic tracks, as well as guitar and vocal overdubs. Each 24th track is a live track with audible scratch vocal. This source features pre-song banter and ambient noises not found on other sources. Very Ape appears as New Wave, Pennyroyal Tea (instrumental) appears as Loser and Moist Vagina appears as Marijuana. Moist Vagina cuts out.

SBD #1m TBC No TBC Official Video Game DLC (Guitar Hero: World Tour)
• Sappy
• Very Ape Stem remixes.

SBD #1n TBC No TBC Official Video Game (Guitar Hero: Smash Hits)
• Heart-Shaped Box Stem remix.

Notes
Booking in under the moniker, The Simon Ritchie Bluegrass Ensemble (Simon Ritchie being Sex Pistol Sid Vicious's real name), NIRVANA entered Pachyderm Studios in early 1993 to record their much-anticipated follow-up to Nevermind. (4)

Long before the band had even approached Albini about the recording, rumors had been circulating that he was slated to produce the next NIRVANA album; such was the media feeding the frenzy regarding the most successful band of the '90s and how they proposed to follow up an album which had shifted multi-millions of units. Albini eventually sent a disclaimer to the British music press refuting the allegations, only to get the call from NIRVANA's management a few days later. (4)

Though the band sensed Geffen were unhappy with their choice of producer, they had sufficient clout to record with whomever they wanted. The attraction of Albini, as a reaction to Nevermind, was that he would simply record them as they sounded. (19) I've always respected him as a producer, mainly, probably solely, because of the Pixies record and the Breeders record, (78) Cobain explained. That sound is as close to the sound that I hear in my head that I've ever found, so I just had to do it. (4) Albini himself famously disavows the notion that he produces records at all - he gets sounds rather than arrangements. (4)

Albini did not meet the band until the first day of recording, though he had spoken to Cobain beforehand about the type of album he wanted to make. Albini claims that Cobain requested, ...a more atmospheric sound and slightly more ominous tone at times. (9) Prior to embarking on the sessions, Albini was sent a tape of demos the band had cut in Brazil in January 1993 (1)

Albini inserted a clause in the contract specifying that if anything were to be altered subsequently, he would prefer to do it himself; believing it impossible for someone to remix songs they themselves did not record. (19)

The only others present for the duration of the session were Robert S. Weston IV (studio maintenance technician), Carter Nicole Launt (chef) and her dog, Z. (19) The band had insisted that no-one from Geffen or Gold Mountain visit at any point. (19)

Although it was ostensibly a low-budget project, Albini revealed NIRVANA were not above typically indulged rock star behavior. The band didn't actually show up with their equipment and instead had it shipped, then wasted the better part of three days waiting for it to arrive. Albini said the band wanted someone to Fed Ex a boombox to them instead of just going out and buying one; when Kurt began having trouble tuning his guitar, they wanted to fly in their guitar tech Earnie Bailey. When you've got millions of dollars, maybe you go a little crazy and start doing stuff like that, Albini quipped. (4)

Work began in earnest on February 14, 1993. The set up was the same for each song, except for the faster more abrasive ones (for example tourette's and Very Ape) where the drumming was recorded in a kitchenette adjacent to the main recording space, which was found to have its own natural reverb. (19)

According to Cobain, there were 30 microphones on the drums alone. (19) Similarly, microphones were placed everywhere in the studio. We had big old German microphones taped to the floor and the ceiling and the walls, all over the place, Cobain raved. I've been trying to get producers to do this ever since we've been recording. I don't know anything about recording, but it just seems so obvious to me that is what you need to do. I tried to get Butch Vig to do it, I tried to get Jack Endino to do it, and everyone's response was, That isn't how you record. Steve Albini proved to me on these songs, although I don't know exactly how he did it; I just knew that it had to be that way. He had to have used a bunch of microphones. It's as simple as that. Which is why live recordings of punk shows sound so good. You really get a feel of what was going on. (77)

Albini commented on proceedings: NIRVANA had been practicing these songs pretty intently and they're just intuitive really good musicians who knew each other quite well, so the basic recording was almost effortless. All the songs were recorded with a live band take and then Kurt had a little notebook that had ideas that he wanted to try. On a couple of songs he used this broken guitar amplifier that had a really brutal sound and he was talking about how he had to keep it away from the technicians that they toured with because he was afraid that they were going fix it and then the sound go away. (9)

Cobain is believed to have employed his Sunburst Univox Custom on most of the guitar parts. On one song he played a rare all-aluminium guitar called a Veleno, which Albini had brought along specifically. According to Albini the strained, distorted guitar sounds came from the use of a Fender Quad Reverb amp, with three of its four power tubes broken or missing. (19)

For the most part there was no studio trickery conjured up during recording; the only special effect Albini could recall was on Milk it, The vocal had to sound more crazy than it had up to that point, so I had to find a way to make the vocal leap forward at the end. (19)

An average day would begin at 10 O'clock with breakfast. Recording would then begin at noon and would continue until the evening. Lunch would be delivered to the studio at mid-afternoon, with dinner around a big table in the evening. Launt recalls that Novoselic was a vegan, Grohl an all-American eater and Cobain had an erratic eating schedule, particularly liking frozen pizza. Then perhaps some TV and back into the studio until about 12, maybe to 1am. The group did not diverge from this daily routine except for a few visits to the local mall and a weekend trip to Minneapolis to see The Cows. (19)

Albini and Weston estimate that it took 4 or maybe 5 days to record the basic tracks, a couple of days for overdubbing and a final few days mixing. They finished slightly ahead of the 2-week deadline. (19) This is more or less consistent with other sources for this information: Gaar commented that the band booked the studio for 14 days, but according to Albini only used 12. (1) In the Radio One documentary, Entertain Us: The Story of Nirvana, we are told that: The album took six days to record, and was recorded live (meaning bass, drums and guitar were recorded simultaneously). The band kept virtually everything they laid down. It took Steve Albini a week to mix the tracks. (9, presumably using 4)

Azerrad gives few temporal details, aside from mentioning that the album was mixed in under a week, but notes that Cobain added another guitar track to about half the songs, then added guitar solos, and finally vocals. (4)

Albini recalls: [The band] knew the material, they'd figured out all the little details ... They were as prepared as any band I've ever worked with. (19)

Novoselic concurs: We had focussed intensely on rehearsing ... We had the songs down tight. So we showed up in Cannon Falls, set up our gear and started playing. We tracked almost all the songs in the first two days. Some of the songs, I think over half the songs, we did first take ... The record was recorded real fast. (19)

Cobain later claimed in Oor magazine that lyrics finished for only half the songs and the rest came from messing around in the studio. (19) Yet in the biography, Come As You Are: The Story Of Nirvana, he claimed he again finished writing most of the lyrics within days of recording the vocals, culling most of them from notebooks full of poetry. (4)

This assertion (that Cobain wrote a considerable portion of In Utero lyrics in the studio), is readily refuted. All album tracks except Serve The Servants, Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle and Very Ape had been played live prior to recording the album, in most cases with identical lyrics, and minor additions or changes to Rape Me and All Apologies. NIRVANA has also practised many of the songs whilst in the studio in Brazil in January 1993.

Cobain told Azerrad that Dumb was written in summer 1990, just before NIRVANA signed to Geffen and debuted on the 09/25/90 KAOS FM radio appearance. Pennyroyal Tea was written in the apartment Cobain and Grohl shared on Pear Street, winter 1990: Dave and I were screwing around on a four-track and I wrote that song in about thirty seconds. And I sat down for like half an hour and wrote the lyrics and then we recorded it. (4)

The band played some practical jokes whilst mixing: they engaged in prank phone calls (to Evan Dando, Gene Simmons from Kiss and Eddie Vedder, amongst others), and indulged in some indoor pyrotechnics. (4)

A little over a week into recording, Courtney Love flew in with baby Frances Bean. Love's presence wasn't exactly welcomed. Albini said she tried to butt in on the proceedings, but wouldn't be drawn on the details. I don't feel like embarrassing Kurt by talking about what a psycho hose-beast his wife is, he said, especially because he knows it already. (4)

It did affect things, definitely, Carter Nicole Launt elaborated. I think it was stressful for Kurt. I think she put a lot of pressure on him and wasn't always as approving of the way the songs were. She was very critical of his work, and actually was kind of confrontational with people there. Yeah, it definitely was stressful. I just think it made people uncomfortable, to bring a lot of their personal things into the public arena. Because we were strangers, basically, to them. It made him uncomfortable. (19)

On playback, however, everyone was very happy with the results. (19) Albini remembers the scene after the tracks had been recorded: When we played it back in the studio everyone was just giddy. I remember thinking that we had really pulled something off, like we had really made a record that was as they had imagined it in the beginning. It had a very big ominous sound, but it wasn't uncultured. It wasn't entirely ugly but it had an ugliness built into it that I thought suited the songs really well. Everyone was ecstatic when we were listening back to it on playback. (9)

Cobain was thrilled, and admitted, It was the easiest recording we've ever done, hands down. (4)

Gaar enquired of Albini whether there were any further outtakes, besides the B-sides already known, to which he responded: I'm sure some of that stuff exists as master tapes, but I really don't know. It's normal for some stuff to be generated that doesn't get followed up on. (1) Following the release of With The Lights Out in 2004, at least two more outtakes, titled Dave Solo and Lullaby, are known to exist.

The total recording costs for In Utero were $24,000, and on top of that, Albini took a flat fee of $100,000 up front instead of points on record sales which Gold Mountain offered (and which would have netted him much more), since Albini considers this system to be immoral. (4)

After Albini mixed the album, unremastered tapes were sent off to Geffen president (Ed Rosenblatt), A&R executive Gary Gersh, their lawyer and the inner circle of NIRVANA's management company, Gold Mountain. (4)

Cobain recounted Gersh's reaction in an interview for Melody Maker: My A&R man called me up one night and said I don't like the record, it sounds like crap, there's way too much effect on the drums, you can't hear the vocals. He didn't think the song-writing was up to par. And having your A&R man say that is kind of like having your father or stepfather telling you to take out the trash. I was kind of hurt by it on a personal level, because I wanted him to like it, and it was surprising to hear so many negative things about it. And he wasn't alone in his opinion. A few other people - our management, our lawyers - didn't like the record either. (78)

Albini then received a call from a journalist, Greg Kot, in Chicago, who claimed that several people in the Geffen hierarchy, including high-placed people, (i.e. not obstreperous publicists), had informed him that the album was awful and unreleasable and it was his [Albini's] fault. (19) Albini suspected that Gersh had tipped off the journalist, perhaps to try to exert pressure on Cobain to remix the album. (19)

Greg Kot then published his article in the Chicago Tribune entitled Record Label Finds Little Bliss in Nirvana's Latest, the theme of which was then echoed in other magazines. (19)

Assumedly as a response to this media furore, and presumably under intense pressure from Geffen, Cobain called Albini suggesting that some of the songs perhaps ought to be remixed. Albini called Cobain back to say he did not think he could do any better than what he had already done. (4) Novoselic then called Albini, mentioning that he also didn't think the recording sounded as good as it had done in Minnesota. Albini reiterated that he felt that they had got the best they could from the Pachyderm masters. (19) Indeed, Albini was reluctant even to hand over the master tapes, citing that it had been agreed that the recording would be unalterable without his intervention (even though a contract was never signed). (4)

Certainly, there is evidence that Cobain had himself changed his mind, and was not just following orders from above. The first time I played it at home, I knew there was something wrong, he told the Melody Maker. I wasn't interested in listening to it at all, and that usually doesn't happen. I got no emotion from it, I was just numb. So for three weeks Chris and Dave and I listened to the record every night, trying to figure out what was wrong with it, and we talked about it and decided the vocals weren't loud enough, the bass was inaudible and you couldn't hear the lyrics. That was about it. We knew we couldn't possibly re-record because we knew we'd achieved the sound we wanted - the basic sound was typical Steve Albini, which was the sound we wanted really bad. So we decided to remix two of our favourite tracks, just as a litmus test, and we left it at that because to remix any more would've destroyed the ambience of the whole thing. (78)

The band became determined to remix the singles All Apologies and Heart-Shaped Box. Albini agreed to let someone else tinker with them, given that he didn't think he could improve on them. (19)

Novoselic elucidates why he felt this was necessary: But you know why we had to remix Heart-Shaped Box? You should hear the original version of that song, the guitar solo had this effect on it, it just sabotages the whole song. Steve and Kurt were colluding! I would go to Kurt, Why are you this beautiful song by putting this hideous abortion in the centre of it? He'd be like, Well I think it sounds cool. I don't even remember what their arguments were, some statement against commercial radio or something, the popular mainstream aesthetic ... I dunno! I guess I finally got my way. Scott Litt was an opportunity to change things. (19)

NIRVANA did remix All Apologies and Heart-Shaped Box (recording another acoustic guitar part and backing vocals for Heart-Shaped Box) at Seattle's Bad Animals studio in early May. Pennyroyal Tea was also remixed, but this remix was only released on Wal-Mart/K-Mart versions of the album and the Pennyroyal Tea single.

Newsweek then ran a story, following on from Greg Kot's, about how the record label were forcing NIRVANA to remix the songs. Geffen released a statement, quoting Kurt: There has been no pressure from our record label to change the songs we did with Albini. We have 100% control of our music. The band felt that the vocals were not loud enough on a few of the tracks. We want to change that. NIRVANA retaliated against Newsweek saying that they had gone on totally erroneous information. This letter was reprinted in Billboard as a full-page advertisement. A Geffen press-release also saw the President, Ed Rosenblatt, stress that they would release whatever the band brought them. (19)

The veracity of the above paragraph is difficult to assess: it may well be the case that the band realised that their anti-commercial stance was untenable. Love, presumably, would have been influencing Cobain to remix in a more radio-friendly direction. The pressure from Geffen (via Gersh) must also have been a decisive factor.

In Utero was then mastered at Bob Ludwig at Gateway Mastering in Portland, Maine. (1) According to Azerrad, apart from the minor modifications to Heart-Shaped Box and All Apologies (with Scott Litt), the rest of album was left as it was recorded, and all that was done at final remastering stage was to sharpen up the bass and boost the vocals by 3 decibels. (4)

However, according to Albini, a lot of remastering was done, with the process taking days instead of his usual few hours. He opined: The mastering session that was done took several days, at a studio where the mastering engineer is famous for being very manipulative of the material. A normal album mastering session is a couple of hours. So obviously they thought they should butcher it in some way to try to satisfy these people and to try to satisfy their own expectations. The dynamic range was narrowed, the stereo width was narrowed, there was a lot of mid-range boost EQ added, and the overall sound quality was softened. And the bass response was compromised to make it sound more consistent on radio and home speaker. But the way I would describe it in non-technical terms is that they fucked it up. The end result, the record in the stores doesn't sound all that much like the record that was [recorded by me]. (1)

Weston was similarly negative: [The band wanted to] change the overall sound of the album. The stereo doesn't sound as wide. The guitar has been flattened out a bit. On the original mixes the guitar would just leap out. He felt that they had done a lot in the mastering. Albini felt the same, and was disappointed with the end result. (19)

Novoselic, however, thinks differently: It's a beautiful record. I'm really proud of it. (19)

To read Keith Cameron's excellent MOJO article on the making of In Utero, click here.

Many thanks to John W. Busher for clarification on the source information.

©️ Alex Roberts. August 25, 2009
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February 12-26, 1993 Pachyderm Recording Studio Cannon Falls, MN, US
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