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Rock Reads: Experiencing Nirvana by Bruce Pavitt

Reviewed by Kevin Wierzbicki

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Author Pavitt is the co-founder of the Sub Pop label, the imprint that Nirvana recorded for in their nascent days. He's also a photographer and this coffee table-style book is packed with photos he took of Nirvana and Sub Pop acts Tad and Mudhoney during a European tour in 1989. More specifically though, and here's where this book differs from many, the photos were all taken in just an eight day period of the six week tour. And what an eight day period for Nirvana. The photos are the stars of the show here but Pavitt's added day-by-day commentary paints just as stark a picture for Nirvana as do some of the black & white shots. While onstage in Rome, Nirvana front man Kurt Cobain had problems with his guitar, ended up smashing it and subsequently going berserk, climbing atop a stack of speaker cabinets and threatening to jump. After the unplanned spectacle Cobain decided to end it right then. No more shows, no more Nirvana. Pavitt, out of concern for Cobain's personal health and Sub Pop business interests, soothed Cobain with wise words and by offering to buy him a new guitar. Cobain agreed to continue the tour and Pavitt sent him off by train, separately from the rest of the tour entourage, to the next show in Geneva. The photos, mostly in color and featuring on-stage, candid and a few touristy shots, capture the myriad emotions of the tour nicely but coupled with Pavitt's insight the shots speak much more loudly. A keeper for fans of the early grunge scene and Nirvana fans in particular.


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