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Entertain Us – the Rise of Nirvana, book review

Terry Lane - Sunday 07.10.12, 11:48am

Entertain Us – the Rise of Nirvana

Entertain Us – the Rise of Nirvana

In 1991 Kurt Cobain was quoted as saying: “I don’t think we’ll get that big. Our music isn’t that commercial.”

Twenty years after Kurt Cobain’s tragic suicide the Nirvana’s popularity has not waned. Their meteoric rise to fame as part of the ‘Grunge’ movement was due to the commercial success of their classic second album, Never Mind which was released in 1991; and their lasting appeal has no doubt been crystallized by Cobain’s untimely death. Hence, in the past twenty years there has been more than enough books about Nirvana and the cult of Kurt Cobain, so why consider reading another one?

While other books concentrate on the success of Nirvana and the troubled life of Kurt Cobain and his coping with the fame & attention that followed, Entertain Us – the Rise of Nirvana by music journalist Gillian G. Gaar covers the commercial success and the events that followed but concentrates on the early years of Nirvana and their part in the Seattle music scene that became the global centre of the Grunge movement.

Seattle-born author Gillian Gaar draws on early interviews with members of the band and the local music scene with many key people in the story (including bassist Krist Novoselic, drummer Chad Channing, and producers Jack Endino and Butch Vig) and discusses in-depth early demo recordings and the first album, Bleach which was released in 1989.  By critiquing every song the band recorded in this period, tracing influences and unpicking complex relationships between members, associates and record labels, Gaar gets to the heart of this compelling story, offering her own unique perspective on Nirvana’s journey from humble beginning to grunge super stardom.

The book traces Nirvana’s formation, their early recordings & many personnel changes that eventually led to the arrival of Dave Grohl on drums to complete the familiar three-piece line up.

The book starts with a collection of early live & promotional photos of the band, including Nirvana’s first gig at Olympia on 1st May 1987 when the band were still called Skid Row. The book also includes a selected discography & a list of selected live performances of members of the band and Nirvana between 1984 & 1990.

Entertain Us – the Rise of Nirvana by Gillian G. Gaar is a well written account of one of the most exciting bands & enigmatic figures in rock of the past 30 years.  Its appeal is in the detailed account of the early years in the life of a rock band that appeared to have a certain something, even before there was a whiff of commercial fame.  Gaar has delivered an interesting book that, by its very topic will appeal to the more avid fan who has been left wanting from reading other books that skirt over how the whole story began.

Entertain Us – the Rise of Nirvana by Gillian G. Gaar is published by in the UK & USA by Jawbone Press priced £14.95 / $19.95.

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Tags: 1990s · Indie Rock · Music Books


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